Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Laughter Reviews #20


Unbridaled by Eileen Rendahl

There Goes the Bride by Lori Wilde

Bride makes a mad dash out of her wedding and then tries to figure out why as she deals with life and extended family.

Bride arranges for her own kidnapping during her wedding when she can't figure out how to deal with life and extended family.

Clever title. Cartoon-like drawing of a bridal gown in a trash can - good fit between image and content.

Clever title. Partial image of departing woman in gown and veil, wearing a running shoe. Strictly speaking this is more reminiscent of the Julia Roberts movie "Runaway Bride" than the book's content, but it nevertheless underscores the title and gives the gist of the premise.

What Works
Despite her near-ludicrous departure from the ceremony, Chloe is not a ludicrous or impulsive person. She is a thoughtful person doing her best to deal with (to put it mildly) highly complex family dynamics and emotional baggage; her efforts to understand what made her take such uncharacteristic action take the length of the book, and are convincing.

The aspect Apprentice Writer liked best of Delaney's story was the striking cover.

What Doesn't
One of AW's pet peeves is being forced to endure speaking accents for the length of a book. Just tell her when a character is first introduced that he/she speaks with a Scottish brogue or a French throatiness or a German consonant roll. Please don't make her endure endless rounds of "Och!", "Zees!", "Vich vay?", etc. This was made all the worse by the Cajun character not only persisting in his torturous accent, but made to look like an uneducated slob as well, with references to habits of urinating in the heroine's flower garden, not washing hands, leaving garbage strewn about, etc. These details were not only perplexing (they added precisely nothing to the story) but, one would imagine, unwelcome from a Cajun person's point of view given the length of time they have settled in the American South after being hounded out of more northerly parts of the Continent some centuries ago partially due to prejudices against French-speaking Acadian people. Depressing to think these generalized negative views followed them south and still persist so long after. But to be fair, this was a minor irritant; all other elements of the story worked well for AW.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for TGTB. Despite being competently written, the story never came together for this reader in a way that made her engage with a single character or care what happened. The best explanation that AW has is that she read the whole thing as a writer, rather than a reader. She was never able to lose herself in the story, because the sense of recognition of how the component parts were manufactured was so strong. Paranormal element - check, hero and heroine from opposite ends of social ladder and large/small family situations - check, secondary female characters lined up to be heroines in upcoming installments of the series - check, opening hook providing a dramatic moment taken from the final climactic scene - check, first meeting done in a memorable and romantic sparks flying manner - check, many long passages of hero and heroine angsting about why they were attracted to one another but couldn't be together - check. Perhaps the story would work better for readers who don't write themselves. Or like stories with much, much introspection. AW is more of a 'get on with the action' kind of girl.

AW first encountered Eileen Rendehl's name as one of the "Literary Chicks", a now-disbanded grog (group blog) of women's fiction authors. This story was a thougtful, unpredictable, satisfying read about people one might encounter in daily life.

The claim to fame of TGTB was that as a mere concept, it had the power to unleash a bidding war for movie rights. If AW recalls correctly, there were at one point eight parties competing to secure the option before the book was even written. How can a reader resist such a story? So AW purchased the book with mucho anticipation. Though in her view the story did not live up to the clamor, she has nothing but admiration for an author who can inspire such industry reaction, and who has a few dozen printed titles under her belt.

But does it make you laugh? YES / NO

"Unbridaled" is not a laugh-out-loud, mile-a-minute story. It is quiet slice-of-life tale with moments of wry humor, such as when the heroine is called a 'wetback' by some bar patrons and wonders to herself whether she should point out what the correct ethnic slur would be in her case. AW would look forward to reading other books by this author.

"There Goes the Bride" has moments that seem intended to be funny, but didn't work that way for this reader. The way the hero and heroine meet, a wardrobe malfunction at an amusement part, the zany outfit choices of a ghost - all felt too manufactured. Based on her Two Book Rule (reading at least two before deciding to bypass an author permanently) AW would read the second in the Wedding Veil series.


Thomma Lyn said...

Excellent review, as always! And like you, I just don't care for formulaic books.

Wylie Kinson said...

Nice, thorough reviews, M.

I appreciate that books/movies must adhere to some kind of formula (at least in romance), I don't like when it's so obvious. Sometimes less is more.

M. said...

Hi, TL! I know you're a fellow writer, but I don't know anything about your literary tastes. What book has knocked your socks off recently?

Hi, Wylie! That's it exactly - for me, less is more. I have no problem with protagonists expressing or experiencing a little emotion, I just don't want to have go through an analysis every five minutes. For me, that is a more important kind of 'show, don't tell'. I should be able to figure out from the context how the person feels, or only need a minor hint.

Julia Smith said...

It's funny how an uninspired book can create such a firestorm of aquisition. Is it because the buyers have problems with real creativity? Or are they truly into those books? Both possibilities make me sigh.


Amy Ruttan said...

There are ways to write accents with out the OCHS, Zees and the Vich Vway.

Cause those drive me nuts. Och canna yoo tell wut I'm talking about lassie? Verra weel!

M. said...

julia - your follow-through on intention to sigh made me laugh.

amy - clearly you get it! not to mention i've never heard ascottish person speak like that. except for the 'lass' part.

Abby said...

I have the second Wedding Veil book - also very manufactured. It features (I assume) one of the friends from the first.

I didn't love it, didn't hate it. It passed the time.

Love your reviews, M. Wish I could get the hang of reviewing like you do :)

M. said...

abby - so it looks like my first impression likely won't be altered by reading another book. this reinforces something i've noticed on other occasions; sometimes, i really like the way an author talks about the business of writing, even if i am not the target audience for that writer's books.

and i think your comments on books read are illuminating. i think you do have the hang- it's just on a different angle.

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