Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nerd Gone Wild

Romance novels would be okay if it weren't for all that "Romance."

I don't mean romantic fiction. What I mean are novels where the plot is consumed by the fluffy, shippy plot elements like a fat lady on pie--Romance novels.

I'm a dumbass. Though I know I hate the formula, I keep trying, hoping to find a light romance with the hilarity of a Stephanie Plum (Evanovich) novel wrapped up with a happy ending.

All said, Nerd Gone Wild by Vicki Lewis Thompson isn't that bad.

Ally Jarret is a rich girl-turned richer girl when her grandmother passes away leaving her a vast fortune. Grandma was a controlling old broad, so Ally takes her newfound freedom and heads for Alaska to pursue a career as a wildlife photographer. Hot on her heals is Mitchell Carruthers, a PI/bodyguard disguised as an accountant--the nerd. Ally's plan is to meet up with Uncle Kurt, who "claims" to want to help her with her career. Ally thinks Mitchell is just an overzealous accountant and resents his attempts to protect her from folks like Kurt. The inevitable sparks fly.

This is where most light romances totally fail. Light romances are typified by adolescent dialogue. Many romance writers are soccer-moms-turned-authors, so perhaps prolonged exposure to van loads of children is to blame. The most consistent problem with light romances is the confusion between "independent woman" and "hormonal harpy."

Typical scenario: A fanged, tentacled Cthulhu beast is bearing down on hero and heroine. Hero says, "Let's get out of here." Heroine crosses her arms over her chest and snaps, "You can't tell me what to do!"

Die, bitch, die!

Thompson's dialogue is...glarp...grownup and Ally is refreshingly sane and possesses a brain. No too-stupid-to-live moments. But, alas, all that romance gets in the way. Thompson gives herself a zany cast of characters in the population of Porcupine, Alaska. Uncle Kurt, a sex addict, and his S&M obsessed girlfriend Vivian are ripe for hilarity. But instead, the first half of the novel plods along with Ally and Mitchell playing in the snow, raiding the fridge and exploring the town. Uncle Kurt and Vivian don't show up until more than halfway through the novel.

I'm all for building a credible relationship between the H/H, but there has to be more. The point of reading is escape; an escape to something I've never done or can imagine. I've dated. I've built a relationship. But I've never been a heiress with a slimy Uncle out to steal my money. Give me more of that and then fold in the romance.

Perhaps I need to accept I'm not the demographic for this kind of book. Perhaps the demographic is soley women who have lived in the safe comfortable suburbs and been middle class all their lives. Women who don't demand much of an escape.

The cover blurb said that Kelly Ripa picked the previous Nerd book for her book club. Kelly Ripa, who has the mental acumen of a pumpkin. Yeah, I'm so not the demographic.

On Deck...
The Unhandsome Prince by John Moore (F [comedy?])
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (Dark F/comedy)
Hunter's Moon by C.J. Adams and Cathy Clamp (para Rom)
Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden (H)
The Good House by Tananarive Due (H)

Pat K.


Graphics and Content Copyright © Patricia Kirby 2005