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booboohead

Just reactions to books I read. I don't really summarize the book's content, because how hard is it to click on the cover and read the description?

 

So I just write my response.

SPOILER ALERT!

Well written, but I had a hard time caring about the characters

Frenched - Melanie Harlow

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So this is the kind of book I hate to run into -- a book that's well written, funny in places, where the author takes the time to really develop and look at her characters ... and yet, it doesn't take long before I want to start skimming.

 

Mia is jilted a week before her expensive, huge wedding and she's hiding in her apartment when the book starts. Her besties come and persuade her to go to France (since the honeymoon is paid for, why not?) and so she goes.

 

Still upset over the cancelled wedding (not really upset that she lost her future husband, but just upset that her plans are ruined) she's further irritated by all the lovey-dovey couples in Paris, and is prepared to fly back home the next day when she walks into a bar and meets, Lucas, who is filling in as a temp bartender (because he's really a professor at NYU). He's also a psychology major, and has the (irritating to Mia) habit of questioning everything she says and does. He persuades her to stay in Paris another day, so he can show her the city, and maybe interest her in staying longer.

 

He does, they have explosive sex that night, and I had a hard time staying with the story after that. But I trudged on. 

 

It's difficult to articulate exactly what my problem with this book was -- partially because I don't want to open up my Kindle again and pull out examples. 

 

It started with Mia. Now, I like difficult characters. So it didn't bother me that she was wrapped up in the wedding and the disappointment of having her plans smashed, or that she was wallowing in it in Paris afterward. But all I could think was: Jesus, I wouldn't want to spend more than a few seconds with this woman. I understand being selfish and self-centered and focused on your own pain (who isn't, sometimes) but the last thing I want to do is spend so much time with someone like that. And guess what we do in a first-person narrated book? Spend time with that person.

 

Actually, no. Let me back up. The whole problem with the whole dang story is the guy who jilted her -- because he's a rich, good-looking, narcissistic, shallow, boring piece of work. We're hit over the head with how narcissistic he is. We're hit over the head with how boring in bed he is (he doesn't like the wet spot and won't go down on her.) 

 

So when we meet Mia, she's been with this guy over a year and was planning to marry him. She kind of knew all this stuff about him but was ignoring it because everything else was just so perfect (see rich, good-looking). 

 

And we know she's not really upset that she's lost HIM when the wedding was called off, because we're told that repeatedly. She's upset that her plans are ruined. She was supposed to be on her honeymoon. She was supposed to be having a romantic time in Paris instead of being alone. 

 

BUT SHE WAS WITH HIM FOR THAT LONG, KNOWING HE WAS A NARCISSISTIC TOOL and she didn't care. She didn't care.

 

Which means my sympathy for her is -- and my trust in her judgment regarding men -- hovers somewhere around the level of a sewer.

 

Anyway, the whole thing about Mia is that she likes to plan stuff out. She likes to make lists and put her ducks in order. And when things don't go the way she wants them to and people don't conform to her plans, she gets completely thrown and basically breaks apart. 

 

...as much as I understand the need to be organized (obsessively) and how it's an issue of control, I'm sorry: that's the reaction of a freaking five-year-old. Because we aren't talking about a disorder, where if things go wrong she has to deal with anxiety and all of the terrible consequences that someone with serious control issues can have -- no, her reaction is to feel sorry for herself and basically throw a tantrum, because her plans are ruined and she hates the world for it.

 

So we've got a spoiled brat for a heroine. Okay. I can STILL work with that.

 

Except the new love interest, Lucas ... my god. Everything about him is STILL about the ex. 

 

Lucas basically the anti-Tucker (the ex's name, I think. Not opening my Kindle again.) He's fit and lean, but he doesn't spend hours in the gym like Tucker. He plays the guitar. He's kind of scruffy. He gives orgasms. 

 

His characterization is SO EFFING ridiculous. He's such the complete opposite of her ex that I feel like he wasn't actually his own man; he was just a composite of the qualities her ex wasn't (except fat. Because of course he could never be fat.)

 

And I can't even see why Lucas would be interested. She shows up in the bar, irritable and hating Paris, and he's like: I want to know more about this woman.

 

But even worse, I can't see why she'd be interested in HIM. He's all of these not-Tucker things, but he's not particularly witty or fascinating. They have a pleasant day together in which he basically caters to her, they have amazing sex, and yet he still comes off kind of bland and passive. 

 

So the book goes on, they fall in love, and when the black moment comes -- guess who doesn't want to fall in with Mia's plans of love and marriage after only knowing her for a few weeks? -- she goes off the rails again. And the thing is, EVERYONE KNOWS SHE'S OFF THE RAILS. Her friends talk her down and point out how ridiculous she is. 

 

In other words, the author knows and the friends know and I know how stupid the heroine is being, but I'm supposed to give it all a pass because ... why?

 

I don't know. :-(

 

SO IN CONCLUSION: 

 

I tried another book by this author -- the third book in the series, FLOORED. Although in some ways it was better, there were other issues with it. I almost couldn't get over what a freaking jerk the hero was. Like, he's borderline emotionally abusive with comments that he says are only supposed to be teasing, but instead they were the kind of shit that I can only imagine would slowly tear someone down over the years they are together. 

 

And although the heroine of that story is more sensible most of the way through, when she finds out the hero's secret (SPOILER: he has a kid) you'd think that he confessed to murdering someone. Her sense of betrayal is so over the top, it kind of killed any goodwill she'd built up with me.

 

We also find out that he was really freaking terrible to his ex-wife and kid, and when he finally turns his life around and falls in love with the heroine, we're supposed to believe he really has changed. Obviously the heroine believes it, but because the reveal comes so late in the book, it was hard for me to really believe it. That's the kind of thing that should be introduced at the beginning of the book so we have time to believe he'll change, too. But, nope. 

 

WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND INSTEAD: 

 

For another book (with another Mia) in Paris, I'd suggest trying SWEET FILTHY BOY by Christina Lauren. It's a far superior book in every way, from the characterization of the (somewhat feeling sorry for herself) heroine to the hero, who is all the things Lucas wishes he was.