Sunday, 12 June 2011

Lust in the dust: In search of a new genre


The day I saw a book cover of a cowboy with a large stetson, his shirt open to the waist, and a glistening six pack on view, I wanted to find out what this was!!  So with the help of some friends, I decided on three titles to gain an insight into a new (for me) world.

First I attempted  The Twelve Month Marriage Deal by Margaret Mayo.  This is not a cowboy romance, but I think it needs to be said that we have to have something to compare the other two with, and that isn’t hard, as it is probably the worst written piece of drivel I have had the (bad) luck to get my hands on for years, if not ever.  Her thong was discarded with a flick of the wrist” is a real sentence in this book,  and it’s one of the better ones.  The story of Elena, a Spaniard home to Seville from Los Angeles because her sister has just run away from her fiancĂ©  the dark and handsome banker Vidal Marquez,  has to be read (or not, is my recommendation) to be believed!  Hearts beat so hard that they nearly leap out of chests, gasps are common, whooshes of pleasure are experienced  (I kid you not),  emotions are all over the place, and so is the author.  Considering that all but one of the characters are Spanish,  I found it very odd that for a breakfast business meeting Elena and Vidal chose to eat toast  in a cafe in Seville...... With the odd Spanish word or three, the idea that these are Spanish characters are conveyed, but all you need to know is that she is asked to take the place of her errant sister and marry Vidal to save her parents’ bank. I gave up at page 70 because it was so bad, and skipped to the last sentence just to see what had happened.  Dear reader, I leave it to you to decide whether you want to read this pile of old tosh or not, complete with errors of all kinds (was the proof reader drunk?).
Next came  Cinderella and the Cowboy by Julie Christenberry.  No sex in this one, but lots and lots of kissing, which made hearts beat faster, and made our hero  Jack more determined to win Elizabeth than ever!  Very large print which meant it was all over in two hours, but unlike the book above, was not badly written;  it was just written for a certain kind of reader (who is not me, but I gave this one a chance).  It involves a widow arriving at her father-in-law’s house, with the clothes she and the two kids stand up in after the death of her errant, rodeo star husband.  Her father-in-law takes her in, and is glad to do so, not least because with the two children he has a ready-made family now, and someone to leave the farm to.  Jack, his foreman and close friend, falls for Elizabeth as soon as he claps eyes on her, but she’s having none of it.  Having experienced life with her  ne’r  do well husband, who didn’t stay round much and left for ever straight after the announcement Elizabeth’s second pregnancy, she cannot possibly become involved with another man.  It is enough that her father-in-law knows how badly his son behaved, and wants his family with him.  Light and fluffy nonsense, and no sex before marriage (except for the kissing).
Finally I read Marriage, Outlaw Style by Cindy Gerard.  A quick dip into this and I knew I must expect lots of sex.  A heavy sigh, a pleasured groan, and the sensual journey of lips and breath and stubbled jaw began a downward descent”.  Well, don’t all cowboys have stubbled jaws,  I thought as I started at chapter one?   There’s more of the same:   burning, sizzling, hot, sweet, etc.... you get the picture!  Written by someone who really enjoys describing  sex, but isn’t quite as good at writing a book... too many references to Stetsons (I know this is America, but the guy is a builder, for gawd’s sake, not a cowboy!), feelings that cannot be stated, steely eyes, grim determination – and from this you   have probably realised that the two main characters love each other but just don’t know it.   Even a week up in the mountains in a log cabin with no transport can’t get them to see it!  Not as bad as book one, and I did get to the end by skimming over the oft repeated denials  of love in the loneliness of the dark hours of the night until, like all of those books beloved by people who are romantics at heart, realisation dawns for the two lead characters.  I made it sound so good you nearly wanted  to read it, didn’t you?!   Although the author has won several romantic writing awards in the US, for me it was badly written, repetitive,  and  I must be wrong because obviously there is a good living to be made out there writing this kind of dross.  I can’t recommend it, although the lusty bits might give some people ideas.......
Will I read any more of the like?  NO!  It was the discovery of that book cover that made me think there was a whole new genre out there.  But I think not.  Mills and Boon and similar publishers (Marriage, Outlaw Style was publised by Silouette Desire)  have always  had themed stories:  Doctors and Nurses, Executives and Secretaries etc, I just missed the fact that a man in a Stetson has a great appeal to the readers of these books!

Book  1 scored half a point out of a possible 10 and that because it is a book.
Book 2 scored 5/10 because believe it or not, there was a half decent story in there.
Book 3 scored 3/10 because there was a story.
The opinions expressed in the above article are purely my own and are not aimed at any author in particular.  In advance I apologise for any hurt my opinions may cause, and now I am going back to reading some good stuff.  Hallelujah!