VINE VOICEon 5 August 2008
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Leo Tolstoy
No-where is this quote more true than all these 'happy family' romances. You know those ones, where the matriarch/patriarch decides that, "Forsooth, alone is the same as being lonely, and no -one can choose the right mate for you but I. Because I know that you're going to object my lovely, I'll do it behind your back, because all is fair in twu wuv".
In addition, you have...more "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Leo Tolstoy
In addition, you have the nosey sisters, over protective brothers (is there any other kind? What happened to the, "Okay, I'll leave you well enough alone, but if you need a shovel and a shallow grave, I'm there" brothers?) and by the time you get to the fifth book in the series, there are so many characters around that you need a stick, register and family trees to keep them in line.
Oh and in the end, when the character thinks that s/he found his/her own (wo)man anyway... well, see first paragraph above.
Unluckily for me, I started with Only You the fifth book in the Grayson family series.
I knew I was in trouble when I read this line: "Since she was a direct descendant of an African high priestess and a Native American shaman, Sierra didn't question how she knew he was hurting, or her own actions."
On reading this sentence (in the first five pages in the book), I went, "Oh snap, Jazz! She's part Pocohantas, part Aida, with a bit of Mulan for spunk... all Disney princess. Jazz, Sierra Grayson is a Mary Sue, the only character deficit is recklessness, Americans like recklessness, I'm doomed! Doomed!"
It was the last romance novel on my camping trip. I had no other choice but to push on.
It doesn't help that Sierra charms everyone that she meets, she bubbles, and emotes and empathises. I expected her to start speaking to animals a la Cinderella. If Sierra couldn't have afforded Versace, Escada or Ralph Lauren black label lines - she'd have gotten her animal friends to make it for her- and it wouldn't be sweat shop labour, no, because they were doing it for Sierra. The Mary Sue comparison is not shaken that in a pinch at the wedding reception she was able to play harp, with the dexterity of a Joanna Newsom, thus saving the day.
Anyways, for what its worth, here's the plot: Sierra Grayson gets put up for one of those auctions for 'charidee' - she gets won by Blade Navarone, they fall for each other hard and fast. Of course, Blade is emotionally distant, due to some tragic accident in his past, and is a bit of gruff. Sierra sets to woo him (cue the *Beauty and the Beast* Disney soundtrack) and find a way to make him want to break through the ice of his emotions and love her despite himself.
Snarking aside, the book is fairly well written. I actually liked Blade Navarone - it's rare that you see a descendant of 'the first peoples' that isn't a noble savage ala Cassie Edwards, and relatively three dimensional. He's pulled himself up by his footsteps and is a relatively sympathetic character - I can't stay that about Sierra, since despite her supposed recklessness, she comes out better than before. When I'm reckless, I have credit card bills up the whazoo and wondering when I'll be able to squeeze my size 12 body into a size 8 two piece tiger striped bikini on a beach in Britain.
I'm hesitant to put this as an IR romance, since Sierra Grayson is the descendant of an Indian shaman and all. The sex scenes were pedestrian - I really expected Blade to have some technique in the bedroom (it was implied, okay?) - and thought the only reason why Sierra was impressed because she was a virgin (oh, yeah, I forget to put that in the Disney princess ticky box). Because the sex scenes were clumsily done, I thought the writer would have been better off making the action fade to black, or just go poetic. Then, the plot twist at the end of the book was so obvious, Stevie Wonder could have seen it coming (I did).
Oh, and it's could NOT care less. NOT could care less. Editors of these books, I'm looking at you.