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Throbbing with every romance novel cliche
on 5 December 2012
Buyer be warned: this is a romance novel under a different cover. If you're into heaving chests, soul-deep sighs and endless longing glances spiced up by a touch of something different, then this is for you.
If, like me, you were suckered into buying this book expecting some kind of fantasy novel then consider carefully because the cheese factor runs high in places. It's actually a romance novel. I can only assume Mills & Boon or Harlequin turned this one down.
The heroine of the novel is a typical romance novel heroine: stunningly, breath-takingly beautiful and yet, because of course she's a romance novel stereotype and not even a remote attempt at a character, she's totally oblivious to her good looks. Naturally, as all romance novel heroines are, she's damaged, vulnerable, and hides this behind an impenetrable wall of toughness. Well, she does have to make her hero work hard to get her, doesn't she?
Natually, her impenetrable wall of toughness is penetrated instantly by her best friend, her newest foster parent and just about every character (apart from the obvious baddies) she meets in her travels.
She's a tough cookie, independent woman who can't be touched by any man . . . except of course as soon as she meets her hero she melts entirely and spends her time falling over or even fainting. Yes, it's all an act imposed on her by the author. Heaven forbid she does anything butch to scare him off. This is a romance novel of course so he's the one who's got to do all the running while she just has to look like interesting bait.
So, to the hero: hard to say what he's like because he isn't given any characterisation over and above what's required of a romance novel hero: stunningly gorgeous, muscled and "a perfect specimen". Naturally, he's a tortured soul, suffering emotional pain that only his romance novel heroine can understand and rescue him from, with a minimal backstory that conveniently disappears.
Unlike any real human male, he communicates to his heroine in true romance novel hero style: he rasps, he moans, he groans, he gasps, he shudders uncontrollably, his heart beats against his chest, a muscle in his jaw twitches often and he radiates both heat and an intoxicating scent. I wish I were making this up, but I'm not: this book is filled with drivel like this towards the end.
Like any good romance novel, they suffer the twist in the middle where one misunderstands the intentions of the other and runs away. All this is required, of course, in order to force a confession of love out of them both so that they can sink into each other's arms at the end. Probably with a shudder or a moan.
It's a shame the author thought it necessary to trot out every romance story cliche because if you can shovel off the codswallop, it's actually a good story in an interesting setting that poses some very thoughtful questions.
Possibly teenagers still consumed by their first love will eat this up, but grownups who can tell the difference between lust dressed up as romance and genuine love are advised to pass on this.