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[personal profile] pocketgarden
Gah. Gah. Gah. I had heard that some people were disappointed with Carla Kelly's latest, Beau Crusoe, but I avoided spoilers and got it anyway. (I had to get it from eBay, after waiting literally months for Amazon to admit that no, they didn't really have it and weren't going to be able to get it either). It was Carla Kelly, and the premise was charming; how bad could it be?

Pretty bad. I skip books that are heavy on what in RomanceReviewLand is referred to as "skanky villain sex"; I dislike the sex-negative implications, and often when the author puts her idea of Deviant Sexual Practices in the book with the bad people, the weird aura of titillation and disgust makes things I consider normal sex (by which I mean: well within the parameters of normal people, not necessarily my normal practices) into something pretty damn icky. Still, some authors, even sex-negative creepy authors, are able to write skanky villain sex that I could see people who like that sort of thing enjoying.

Carla Kelly is not that author. For one thing, I certainly do not read Carla Kelly for skanky villain sex. She writes sweet Regencies with kind characters and gentle humor. As time has gone on, she has seemed... a little less kind and accepting of her characters. However, the tone of her books (the first half of this one included) does not allow for the possibility of any explicit sex, much less the skanky kind.

Secondly, the skanky villain sex is bad, in the sense of being poorly written. The skanky villain is bad, in the sense of being a character that makes no psychological sense whatsoever; her behavior has no motivation and seems so unlikely to produce any desired result (for her) you'd think she was trying to ram cars into airports in Glasgow. She's too stupidly melodramatic to be a creditable character or villain.

Finally, the sympathetic characters aren't so great either. The hero's task of "fixing" the heroine's family involves telling them a lot of lies for humorous effect. Some of them were funny, but many were stupid, and I dislike lying, and the tasks were so easy for him to solve the heroine looks kinda dorky for not doing anything about any of them, especially her sister. The hero just wasn't that interesting, as a person or a (purported) scientist. When the most interesting aspect of a character are his hallucinations and their cause, you have a problem.

Finally, the resolution, in which a villain manages to off himself without staining the hero's hands, is stupid and coincidental.

Oh, and my music choice is a spoiler too.
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pocketgarden

May 2012

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