Wendy has a Romancing The Blog post up that made me re-think this one in the midst of writing it. I had started it thinking my problem stems from an aversion to re-reading--a book or even a plot or story arc. But that's not true really. The problem with these particular DNFs--thinking along Wendy's lines--is that they no longer suit my evolving reading tastes.
Ride The Fire by Pamela Clare
Couple of things happened here. First, I was reminded of how violent historical westerns can be, particularly when there is scalping (and far, far worse stuff) to fear. The early scenes in this book were extremely violent (in the degree of torture) and are still giving me trouble. Second, when I reached the part where H/H meet, get acquainted and begin to desire one another I felt like I'd been here before. Back in my old Harlequin days. Like as a teen. It left me feeling...tepid and bored. I knew (or presumed to know) exactly how this story was going to unfold and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was going be a total pollyanna telling. When he bartered a reading lesson for a kiss each day I groaned and put the book down. More than 100 pages into it.
Not without some little bit of hesitation though. Lot of blogger buzz about this set of Clare westerns. And Lori liked them. And it's Pamela Clare afterall--writer of contemps that I love. I asked Lori the next day if I was making a mistake. What do you think? Pollyanna? Or is there grit in there (not violence, but grit)?
His Captive by Diana Cosby
This was a blogger rec that made its way to my TBR stack. In the mood for another Highlander romance (after Howell's Highland Warrior), I picked it up. In this instance, I went in knowing that I've read this story before--just the prior week in fact. I wanted to experience it again (think Scottish historicals are the only instance of this for me; thank Garwood). Unfortunately, Cosby's version fell flat. The hero did not seem at all sure of himself (on any level) and hence did not fit the warrior body and role Cosby assigned him. The heroine was equally inexperienced and Cosby's formulaic vulnerability (she's afraid of confinement and thunderstorms) felt paperthin. IOW, where Cosby may have succeeded in re-creating beloved Scottish characters, she failed to breathe her own life into them. Not sure why I hung in there so long--at least halfway through--but I ultimately put it down when Cosby hinted at a touch of paranormal (magic rocks or something). I'm not big on the paranormal in my Scottish. (Probably because Garwood didn't do it.)
The Seduction Of His Wife by Janet Chapman
This premise had great potential, but it too suffered a pollyanna tone and could well have been penned in the 80's. It lacked today's realism. The hero is lost and presumed dead in a Brazilian jungle and is unable to reach his family via phone as he makes his way home. The heroine has led a ridiculously isolated existence, previously trapped in a sexless marriage (complete with evil MIL) and apparently unable to exercise her own will to get out (it's available to her; she is not imprisoned) and regain control of her bed-and-breakfast business. Now safely removed from that situation, she is remarkably passive about getting her business or its monetary worth to her back. Throughout, neither avails themselves of technology to stay connected. Silly really.
Their characterization was also silly. He shouts a lot--a habit I didn't find charming or endearing. And she sets her timer so she won't miss Oprah--which yeah, made me question her maturity. She also lives for cooking shows, quilting and, for a brief period, romance novels. And she can't drive. Seriously, Chapman does not paint her as the brightest bulb. What Chapman does, unsuccessfully, is try to portray her as cute and sassy. Didn't buy it. I couldn't. Not when the telling reminded me of my teenage daydreams wherein I constructed the perfect--read unrealistic--romance stories. But again, I hung in there well into it. Don't ask me why. I can't explain myself.
The really, really good news is that I've picked up Jo Goodman's The Price Of Desire. Wow. I am, at present, a happy and awed reader again.