Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Recent Reads and a Rant to go along with them

Questions of Honor by Kate Welsh

Why this one: New to me author, Western, it was a given

Steam Level: Can’t rate – reason to follow

Amazon Blurb: A stern, rock-hard man stood before Abaigeal Sullivan. No sign of the boy whose playful teases had once turned to stolen kisses and something much, much more. Why, in all the years Joshua Wheaton had been away, had he never made contact, acknowledged her astounding news—that she carried his child?

Abby no longer trusted any man, but could she believe Joshua when he claimed he only ever meant to act honorably toward her? There was no doubt he wanted to get closer to her and the son that they had created together.

My Thoughts: I don’t do this very often – it makes me sad. But lest anyone think I enjoy every book I read – ‘tis not so, despite my almost Pollyanna approach. This book is an example of a DNF. And it’s an odd reason why not. The story was engaging, the writing was quite good and the hero was wonderful.

So – with all that going for it, you are wondering while scratching your heads, why is it a DNF.

It’s the heroine. I’ve often said it’s the heroine that makes or breaks a story and once again the heroine broke this one for me.

Joshua Wheaton and Abigail Sullivan had been sweethearts with Abby on the wrong side of the tracks. But Joshua needed to escape his wealthy but loveless home life and learn all he could so he could make the mines his father owned safer for all involved. He begged Abby to go with him but she refused. She was only 17 and she needed to stay and take care of her mother.

Ten years later and Joshua is back. But things happened in the meantime. Unbeknownst to him because of his vile father, all communication between him and Abby had been stolen and he was left not knowing she had given birth to his son and she thought he had abandoned her and she married another only to be widowed very soon after.

She was understandably bitter towards Joshua. I didn’t blame her. But it didn’t take long before they discovered the evil scheming of his father. And while Joshua was quick to get over his hurt and anger at Abby, she was another story. She kept up with her anger long past what I thought she should have. Not to mention she allowed her and Joshua’s son Daniel, to treat Joshua horribly. Joshua came across to me as a very lost soul who very much wanted to improve the conditions of the mines and to find the love he still had all these years later for Abby.

What really got to me and made this one a DNF was the way Abby allowed their son to behave with nary a word to him. Instead she would tell Joshua ‘you have to understand, he’s angry at you.’

Well yes – and until Daniel’s MOTHER steps in and is straight with Daniel – his father and mother loved each other and were unfairly divided and still do and he better not continue his brattish ways. I found her to be quite passive aggressive in this area and it got me hot under the collar. In addition, this is one of my hot buttons – the heroine who doesn’t want the father involved in their child’s life. If the father is a good man – which Joshua Very Much is, this plot device drives me out of my ever loving mind.

Joshua is really a wonderful hero and maybe that’s why the treatment he received from everyone when he returned was so hard to read. I actually got pretty far into this one before the son pulled one cruel action to many and Abby just fluffed it off and that was it. I couldn’t read any of any more cruelty to this really good man.

I’m not going to say I’m not going to finish it some time. But just for now, because I don’t like the heroine – though the hero is great and I think he deserves better, this one’s a DNF.

But!! That’s me and someone else could really enjoy this one. I can so see that.

The Great Scott by Donna Kaufman

Why this one: I could say it’s because I’ve read a number of her books and enjoyed them – that wouldn’t be a lie. I could say I’ve been watching The Bachelor (more on that) off and on and this seemed to be a bit of a takeoff on that show and that wouldn’t be a lie.

But in the interest of full disclosure I must confess that probably 80% of the reason I got this book was ‘cause of the Real Hawt Guy on the cover. Yes people – I am shallow and he is Gorgeous. And I want one of him to come home too.

Steam Level: It took a while but this one came to a nice boil.

Author website blurb: Location coordinator Erin McGregor knows she’s finally found the perfect setting for her romance reality show, Your Prince Charming. The Chisholm clan stronghold in the Scottish Highlands has it all—romantic moors, windswept cliffs, misty lochs, a four-hundred-year-old castle, and possibly the most gorgeous man she’s ever laid eyes on in chieftain Dylan Chisholm. Nothing like a guy with a sexy accent and a big…turret to make a girl all wonky-kneed. Right. No time for wonky. Time to get over her fixation with the Hot Scot and get back to business. And Erin will…any
minute now…

With his three youngest brothers spoken for, Dylan Chisholm is at the top of his village’s matchmaking list. Now they’ve sent some impish, forthright American lass up to tempt him into a devil’s bargain: He can let the Yanks use his castle to film their foolish romance show, and in exchange, he’ll get the money his village desperately needs. It took a tragic loss to get Dylan to embrace his heritage and his duty. He can’t turn away from such a promising offer. But keeping his thoughts off Erin McGregor is another matter. She’s everything he never wanted in a woman, and suddenly, she’s everything he craves in every way possible…

My Thoughts: This was a real sweet read. I’ve enjoyed other books by Donna Kauffman and I’m glad that a Real Hawt Guy convinced me to give this one a read.

Erin McGregor is scouting locations to use as a bachelor type show. When she visits the small Scottish town of Glenbuie, the residents convince her to look up the estate of their clan chief Dylan Chisholm. At first he’s dead set against it. He is planning on turning the estate into a B & B and he doesn’t want a lot of Hollywood types invading his territory. But his brothers and the townspeople finally manage to convince him otherwise – despite his reservation. This newly returned to town widower and the location coordinator of a television reality show are very attracted to each other – even though Erin is wrapped up in her career and she is not the type Dylan is usually attracted to. They finally give in to their attraction though both figure it will just be for the duration of Erin’s visit. But things don’t quite turn out that way as Dylan realizes that Erin is just the woman for him.

Both the hero and heroine were quite likeable. Dylan was on the gruff side, preferring not to get involved in the town’s plans for him and their matchmaking ways. But often a gruff kind of hero is adorable underneath and such is the case with Dylan. And while Erin seemed a bit too focused on her career, we eventually learn more about her and what makes her tick and I quite enjoyed her too. If you are looking for something that will make you smile and feel good at the end this one fits the bill. There are apparently a couple of books before this one - trade sized unfortunately - that tell his brother stories. I'm going to be keeping my eyes out for them!

Grade: 3.75 out of 6

Hawt cover: 5 out of 5


And now....... a Rant

So – I said there would be more. Off and on this past season I watched The Bachelor. The only reason I watched it on occasion was because my nearest coworkers were watching it and I hate to be left out of any conversations. One of them learned a new word today when I said the show made me feel real squicky. I think I either made that work up or I’ve seen it on line. But it means uncomfortable, squirmy, feeling off.

And that’s exactly what The Bachelor makes me feel. For the life of me I don’t understand why ordinary women would subject themselves to something I just find demeaning in the extreme. I don’t know how popular I am at work because every time I watched it, I voiced this opinion. Although they agreed with me – they still watched it as alas I did too L

I just find it insulting that 25 women all compete at the same time for one guy – or in all fairness – vice versa. The bachelor gets more and more kissy face as he whittles down the competition. I know I sure wouldn’t want the guy I’m seeing (and no – I’m not seeing anyone – I mean hypothetically speaking *g*) getting all kissy face while I’m around. That’s just wrong!

And how can any of that truly be any kind of honest – being on the television like that. I listen to my co workers discussing the negatives and positives of both the bachelor and the harem they give him and kind of scratch my head thinking “It’s fake – it’s all fake. And after I turn the telly off at 10:00 on some Monday nights I could kick myself for wasting that hour that would have been better spent.

I can’t help but feel that the 25 ‘contestants’ are more like sheep being culled from the herd by a an overeager, sheep-lonely sheep herder. And I cannot understand the appeal – either to be on the show knowing you only have a one in 25 chance of being some jerk’s love interest, or why it seems so many people watch it.

This is the first – and the last – time I’ve watched it with any consistency and I just don’t get it.

But the rant really starts with last night’s episode. Melissa was totally one when she called Jason a bastard. Part of me was thinking ‘you tell him girl’ while the other part of me wanted to turn it off to spare this poor young woman the embarrassment of being dumped by some phony, cry me a river a$$hole. Sure – she set herself up for it – they all did. And what self respecting woman would do that. But other then that, what kind of selfish, mean spirited, slimy man-whore would do that nasty a thing. All season my coworkers were cooing along thinking what a great guy this Jason was while I bit my tongue.

This show is embarrassing – from the women cat fighting with each other, to one of them picking her nose after crying, to all of them boohooing that they weren’t the one chosen, to the last group confiding they had fallen madly and deeply in love.

Bull shit!! You don’t ‘fall in love’ with someone while the cameras are rolling catching your every emotion in some fake, phony set-up designed to get ratings.


Barbara said...

I think I watched like one episode of the Bachelor waaay back when it started. I don't know. I don't see how a bunch of grown women could bicker and fight over one guy, lol. There's plenty of fish in the sea. Not to mention, I agree, how romantic can it be sitting in front of a camera crew while having a romantic dinner?

Wendy said...

OK, now I regret not making the Welsh book my next read. I'm going to be reviewing it for Sybil, but it has to wait for a little while because I've got some Obligation Reading to plow through for work and an RWA chapter contest.

I'm naturally dying to see what I ultimately think of it. Kristie with a DNF? Say it ain't so!

MB (Leah) said...

That first book- Questions of Honor would drive me nuts too.
I dislike all the same issues that you brought up as well. A character who will not forgive or just keeps trying to punish will piss me off like nothing else.

And, like you, I dislike if one parent doesn't try to facilitate a relationship with an estranged parent especially when the child wasn't known about and the other parent is an honorable person. Ugh. I would have thrown this book against the wall probably.

I watched The Bachelor on and off but not a full season ever and like you, feel it's rather dumb and that all parties ask for what they get. I would never compete like that for a guy. Certainly not seriously. And the guy involved? I could never respect him.

Kristie (J) said...

Barbara: I Knoooow! I really am puzzled as to why so many people seem to watch it. I don't know how many they've had but how many of the relationships have worked out??? One that I know of. So obviously they are really finding the loves of their lives.

Wendy: I'll be curious what you think about it too!! It was well written and the hero was excellent - but it just hit my hot button. And *laughing* there are a number of books I don't finish - I just don't blog about them that often.

Leah: I'm always torn when I I don't do a good review - or even worse - don't finish a book. But I just couldn't quite like the heroine and the hurt she caused and allowed to happen to a really caring - yet lost soul hero. If it's outside forces that cause the tension - I don't mind that at all - or if the tension is caused by either the hero or heroine for a good reason - I can buy that too. But not the kind in this book. Still - it wont' keep me from trying another book by her.

Renee said...

What a bummer, Kristie! If I can't like the heroine, what's the point? It's such a disappointment, too when I really want to like the book.
I only watch a little reality tv, but one's like The Bachelor really seem to bring out the worst in people. (My mom's addicted to is, and always wants to discuss it. It just depresses me.) Though we do tape American Idol, and fast fwd thru the fluff, and watch the performances and judging. I like it when there's an actual skill involved. :-)

heidenkind said...

My mom got me started on watching it. It really is painful at times, though. I don't why I watch it... anyway, I totally agree with you on the "After the Final Rose, part 1" show that was on Monday. It's ridiculous to break up with someone on national television; what kind of glory hound is that guy? I really don't comprehend how women can find Jason attractive AT ALL.

azteclady said...

Well, I have never watched reality shows because, frankly? don't see what can be real in such an artificial environment :shrug:

The premise of The Bachelor seems mercenary at best, and pretty effin' sexist at worst. And then there's all the ego stroking; i.e., "I'm pretty enough to be on tv" for the gals and "I'm handsome/smart/wealthy enough to be on tv" for the guys.


Yeah, so not my thing (can you tell I'm the radical opposite to an exhibitionist? heh)

Hey, Kristie, any packages yet? *drumming fingers impatiently on desk*

Lea/AAR said...

I am so happy to read someone putting to words my exact feelings about The Bachelor. I have only watched a few minutes here or there (and stared at my husband that he would even dare keep it on that channel for that long) but I mark it up to showmanship. How these women can so disgrace themselves and "let" some guy chose them as the best leads me to ask "What is so great about a guy who would play into this??" What an ego trip. But I sooth myself by thinking the participants must be seeing their involvement as an audition for some greater role in their future and hoping to be discovered by some director. Honestly, what other reason is there for humiliating oneself in such a manner?!

sula said...

ugh, the mere premise of that idiotic show makes me sick to my stomach. I generally feel that any woman who has such lousy self-respect as to go on it deserves whatever humiliation she gets.

yeah, i'm a biyotch. ;)

nath said...

Too bad for the first book. It would probably have been a DNF for me as well. What I hate from what I read in your review is that Abby is partially responsible as well. she should have left when Joshua asked. Oh well.

As for the Bachelor... Do these women really expect to find love? Hello?!?! Sure it could happen, but not year after year after year.

I haven't really watch it, but I agree, it's stupid and demeaning.

Kristie (J) said...

Renee: *chuckle* see - this is why I hesitate to mention books that didn't work for me 'cause one person's keeper is another person's wall banger so I just might be talking someone out of a book that might really work for them.
And there are only two shows that are real don't miss for me - Lost and The Mentalist :)

Heidenkind: judging by what I've read on line today and even in our local paper it seems Melissa and I are not the only one to think he was a bastard!!

AL: Honestly - this was the first one I watched with any kind of regularity. If *snort - when* it comes on again, I don't care how much I don't want to miss the next day's watercooler talk - I'm NOT watching. And no :-( no packages from you yet. I keep hoping something shows up.

Lea: That's what really puzzles me!! Why WOULD these seemingly intelligent women do this??? Even I - desperate as I might get - wouldn't even consider this kind of thing.

Sula: I'm with you. So what the hell makes it so popular??? Is it the train wreck factor?? Listening to coworkers I don't get that impression. They really seemed to take it seriously and I was left wondering what was wrong with me that I think it's offensive to the utmost.

Nath: I wouldn't say she was responsible in any way for their ten year separation - but after she learned how they had been lied to she still was very unwilling to give Joshua a break. And I really, really liked Joshua. For readers who are more hero-centric, they probably would enjoy this book.
And I was looking at something earlier today - a where are they now kind of thing on former bachelor/bachelorettes and only 3 couples are still even seeing each other - and one are married. That sure isn't very good odds for the declarations of undying love they proclaim for the one who wins the rose is it?

Tracy said...

Yeah the Welsh book would have bugged me too - it's one thing to have the heroine treating the hero badly even if she shouldn't. But to have the child behaving badly as well is going a little to far for my liking. Bummer. If you ever finish let me know.

That second book sounds really cute.

Ah the Bachelor. I watched this the first couple of seasons and was glued to the friggin tv. Why? I now have no idea! lol It is fake and the thought of the bachelor getting kissy face with all those other women and then with me? ew. Just ew.