Saturday, March 14, 2009

Save the Contemporary Romance?


AAAAAHHHHHHH... Make the bad words go away!!!!!

As I said previously, THREE out of the five books I’m judging for this year’s Passionate Plumes are Contemporary Romances.

Book one is from an author whose paranormal I judged VERY highly before. But this Contemp? Not so much. The heroine female lead has a nasty personal hygiene problem. After a double penetration ménage scene that involved condoms and copious amounts of lube, she pulls on her clothes and leaves. After another scene that involved anal sex and no condom, she again merely pulled her clothes on and left. Then came the complete gross out scene— after an entire night of marathon sweaty sex, her alarm goes off in HER HOUSE, and she gets up, gets dressed and goes to work.

Now, I can hear you saying, “Bev, REALLY, do you honestly expect an author to detail every trip to the bathroom?No, no I don’t. However, when an author describes in great detail every little thing the female lead does—from what drawer she pulled clothes out of to what she pulled out of each drawer and what color each item was- I think it’s reasonable to expect at least a brief mention that this woman also stopped by the bathroom to finish getting ready. I mean, they were awake BEFORE the alarm and she got out of bed as soon as it went off, so it’s not plausible that she was too rushed to pop into the bathroom to hose herself down. Instead, this author had the heroine pulling on each item of clothing as she talked to the hero and then rushing downstairs to feed her dog (I’ve chosen to presume she had a doggie door and the poor dog wasn’t expected to hold it all night and all day) and then out the door to work. At no point did she make ANY stops to take a shower, comb her hair, or even wash off. Note that there was also NO TEETH BRUSHING either and this skanky smelling woman WENT TO WORK THAT WAY! EEEEWWWWWWW! Can you imagine working beside this oozing spooge queen all day?!

However, I DID make it through the book because the storyline wasn’t completely awful. Mind you, it wasn’t great, and I’d have a tough time calling it good, but it wasn’t awful. On the Passionate Plume Judging Scale of 1 to 9, I gave it a 5.8. I think I would let it just barely slip into the bottom (heh) of my M&Ms category with a Flame Height of 7” out of 9”. Wait, I take that back, the hygiene issue was a complete turn-off so I’m deducting Flame Height for that. So let’s say 6.5” out of 9” Flame Height.

I decided to break up the Contemporaries with the two Historicals between each of them. They are both by the same author and are books 2 and 3 of a series. I finished the first historical (book 2 of the series) and it really wasn’t bad- VERY erotic and definitely pushes the envelope for mainstream press. If it was from an epub, I’d say it probably would receive one of their higher heat or flame ratings. As for the storyline, I often felt like chunks of the story were missing. Not characters or info from the previous book that I haven’t read, but sections that would help make more sense of the plot of THIS book seemed to be missing and I often felt like I’d walked into the middle of a conversation or scene. All in all though, I liked the characters despite their professed arousal at body odors (Yes, I’ll cut the historical SOME slack about hygiene), and I was COMPLETELY surprised by the identity of the villain and their motivations. So, this one gets scored 6.8 out of 9, and I’d place it firmly in my M&Ms category with a Flame Height of 8” out of 9”.

But then I picked up the third book (second Contemporary Romance) I needed to judge. Oh Great Balls of Badness! By page 22 I had already chalked the book off as a DNF at least three times. Let me repeat—BY PAGE TWENTY-FREAKIN-TWO, I had already REPEATEDLY fought back the overwhelming urge to flush this craptastic tome down the toilet. But I didn’t want to fuck up the plumbing so here it sits and the thought of picking it back up causes gagging dry heaves in much the same way that the thought of drinking any more of the GALLON of thick, slimy, salty bowel prep before my December colonoscopy did.

The premise is silly; the coincidences absurd- a woman who can’t achieve orgasm decides to try uninhibited sex with a stranger AND DOESN’T USE A CONDOM. And oh yeah, the stranger just HAPPENS to be the professor who will be teaching her upcoming sexuality class (of course she doesn’t know this yet) that her ex-boyfriend signed them up for before they broke up (I understand he shows up later in the book for a ménage). Yet, during this CONDOMLESS RIDE ON A STRANGER, she bumps and grinds but gets frustrated because she can’t reach the Big O with this guy either. Yet neither Ms. TSTL nor the Sexpert ever touch her magic luv button. HellooooOOOOO... the clit, the clitoris... ever hear of it Mr. Sexpert? Ever read Cosmo magazine, Ms. TSTL? Shit, even my kids’ health classes at a Catholic high school show the clitoris in their female genital illustrations.

Look again...Or wait, maybe the author is saying that women who can’t achieve orgasm without direct clitoral stimulation (which includes all but about 27% of women) are sexually dysfunctional. Hmmm... or maybe the author doesn’t have a clue WTF she’s writing about.

At this point I was desperate and hit the interwebs to find out if there was ANY chance- even an eentsy, weentsy one- that this sludge heap got less stinky if I could just force myself to read further. Okay, as expected the usual culprits are saying it’s one of the Best.Books.Ever. in exchange for being quoted in print. And RT gave it 4 stars (WTF?), but what’s REALLY scary is that the last Contemp I need to judge was only given 3 STARS by RT! ::*meep*:: So if this fecal matter is a FOUR STAR, then speaking in relative terms, the last Contemp WILL be flushed and damn the plumbing bill! Or there’s some m/m interaction in it. Because when it comes to m/m, an RT 3 star is the equivalent to a straight romance’s 4 or 4.5 star. ::*sigh*:: Somehow I doubt I’ll be that lucky.

A search through my Google Reader subscriptions turned up only one “regular” blogger who mentioned this piece of crapola- Kati and she gave it a D+. So, I’m assuming it doesn’t get any better and I don’t know WHAT I’m going to do about this book. And how the hell am I going to get through that LAST Contemp? NO ONE in my Gooogle Reader has reviewed it! But the blurb sounds like it might lean toward romantic suspense so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. At least I should be able to get through the last historical since it’s a sequel to the other historical I read.

In the meantime, these books had almost completely wiped out ANY urge I had to read. Now keep in mind that I haven’t read an entire book in TWO FREAKING MONTHS (just bits of anthologies) so I SHOULD have been open to ANYTHING and devoured it like a ravenous beast. THIS WAS NOT GOOD, PEOPLE!

Blue Diablo Book CoverBut I had one hope and I had deprived myself long enough. In case of emergency, open eARC. GOD BLESS ANN AGUIRRE! Within just the first few pages of Blue Diablo, I said to myself, “THIS is why I love to read.” Seriously, I’ll write my full review shortly (Ann will be guest-blogging here on April 20th), but my mental movie reel started up right away and allowed me to escape the awful Contemps. And it hasn’t stopped (Yes, Jen and MB, I’m a dork). Even though I have had to frequently put Blue Diablo down and tend to other matters ::grrrr::, the movie stays in Pause mode in my head just waiting for me to hit the Play button again. No, wait, that’s not quite right... it’s also as if I need to hurry back to it so I don’t miss anything. Okay, I realize that probably makes more sense in my head. Nonetheless, halfway through and DAYUM I’m enjoying the hell outta this one! Like I’ve said before, I’m not able to read many ebooks on my PDA anymore, but this one is well worth the risk of eye strain. Unfortunately, I had a queen sized headache all day yesterday and didn't dare try to look at that screen.

However, I STILL don’t know how I’m going to be able to read those last two Contemps, but right now I couldn’t care less because, even though it APPEARS that I’m sitting here in front of my computer in the Land O’ the Grey (NE Ohio), the truth is that I’ve escaped to Mexico and Texas. See ya in Laredo!