Friday, November 06, 2009

Show And Tell by Jasmine Haynes

Title: Show And Tell
Author: Jasmine Haynes

Type: Erotic Romance
Published: 2008

Why: Blogger rec.

Blurb (misleading, BTW): Trinity Green always dreamed of uninhibited passion, but pleasing her husband meant never having a hair out of place—or so she thought. The day she found him getting down and dirty with another woman, she decided to stop pleasing other people—and start pleasing herself…

Now she’s indulging in everything she used to deny herself—from great food to a few sexy encounters with a man who doesn’t even know her name. Having total control gives her a thrill she never imagined. But with true passion comes real connection, and soon Trinity must admit—and accept—who she really is…

Thoughts: Really, really mixed. On the one hand, Trinity's sexual connection to Scott resonated big with me. Can't explain it, but I felt, understood and accepted, needed the connection. Unusual for me--because while I enjoy erotic romance, I find very few that unerringly convince me of the sexual compulsion(s). I'm a person who needs more than that initial physical zing of attraction to act. So it's rare that I fall into an H/H that START with sex. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the sex, LOL. It just means I'm rarely, if ever, emotionally vested in the characters. Here, I was that and more.

On the other hand, I found characterization lacking. I know, totally mixed up. I was emotionally vested, but frustrated beyond words at how little depth Haynes gave these characters, Trinity specifically. I spent far too much time trying to determine why I felt this way. Was it that I simply couldn't relate to this heiress who still calls her father "Daddy?" Or was it that Haynes actually wasted such a fabulous premise on a paper thin character? Or....did poor storytelling ruin it?

Haynes tells readers that Trinity suffers an heiress/debutante-imposed need to be perfect. All the time. Even in bed. She never lets go, even during sex, if it means her mascara will run or her hair tangled. I didn't buy it. Thought her shallow for it. Haynes also tells us (primarily through internal thought--another problem for me) that Trinity's ill-fated marriage was a Vegas quickie a month after she met him. Here, I thought her stupid as well as shallow. That she worries how her Daddy will react to her divorce announcement only adds to it all. Bottom line, Trinity's issues are of the self-esteem variety and Haynes absolutely failed to garner my sympathy.

Deanna Raybourn borrowed a phrase and shared it on her blog awhile back. The phrase was "those are princess problems." In Raybourn's example, she compared her own problem--that of a husband working too many hours--to another woman's problem--a husband deployed a year or more to Iraq. It was about perspective and so damn true.

Trinity's problems? Princess. Even though they didn't have to be. She catches her husband of 6 months having sex with another woman in their home. Devastating on its own. But immediately undermined by Haynes when she reveals their month-long courtship, quickie marriage and lack of true intimacy. Undermined even further when Haynes devotes all of 20 minutes to the conversation Trinity has with her father about her need to divorce. She doesn't tell her father about catching him cheating. And he doesn't ask. Just says he's glad and will take care of all of it. If Haynes couldn't take Trinity's problems seriously, I sure as hell couldn't. In the end, Trinity didn't really love him, had foolishly devoted herself to trying to please him and took the ugly work of divorcing him straight to Daddy.

Still desperately trying to find something deeper in this character, I held onto the idea that she really was struggling to find herself. Having never been truly responsible for herself, Trinity felt adrift, a stranger to herself even. I held onto that, despite my continued and growing dislike of her.

Next, she asks Daddy for a job. He gladly assigns her Accounts Payable / Accounts Receivable Supervisor. She starts work and immediately butts heads with an over-the-top nemesis--a stacked AP clerk named Inga--whom she lets walk all over her for the better part of the book. There was on-the-job sabotage, behind-your-back whispering and excessive use of the Wonder Bra to trump assets. Every step of the way, Trinity acts like an awkward pre-teen girl negotiating junior high mean girls. It was embarrassing. And Haynes weak depiction of this accounting department--its tasks and caricature-like employees and managers--only made it worse. I found Haynes' inability to build this simple setting a huge flaw.

Sounds like I pretty much hated this book, doesn't it? But I didn't hate it. I couldn't totally hate it because the relationship Trinity embarks on with Scott was...gripping. After finding her husband doing another woman, Trinity retreats to a hotel room for the night. Lamenting all that is her life in that moment, she looks in the mirror and decides she is going to do what she wants now--starting with eating what she wants and having orgasms, the kind of orgasms that muss her perfect makeup and hair. So room service and masturbation ensue.

In the room next door, a businessman hears Trinity's moans and guesses she is alone, pleasuring herself. On a bold whim, he knocks on her door and asks if he can watch. The new, bolder Trinity agrees. It is the start of a highly erotic relationship wherein she withholds her true identity and he allows her to call or email him when she wants to meet. Of all her behavior, this actually seemed the most real, the most compelling to me. In these scenes, I saw a woman, not a caricature.

The businessman, Scott, never came close to caricature. In him, Haynes succeeded in creating a living, breathing man, trying to get on with life after his wife of 22 years has divorced him. He is older, more mature and quite sexy. He is realistically self-assured and vulnerable at the same time. Oh how I wish Haynes had accomplished the same with Trinity. Had she done so, this would have glowed perfect for me.

To detract just a bit from Scott, Haynes gave him an accounting job as well. One complete with a smarmy, unrealistic VP and an obviously amorous, stalker-like co-worker. Sigh.

As their relationship unfolds, both Scott and the reader are sucked deep into an emotional connection, wanting more than anonymous sex and thrills. Trinity is there too, giving of herself and finding herself little bit by little bit. Compelling. Until Haynes takes us back to Trinity's cubicle, or back to Daddy's office, or wherever, and shows us that shallow, naive and not a little stupid girl. Worse, at one point, Haynes lets the idiot in her out in front of Scott and his college-age daughters. It was jarring.

And I don't think I can go on about this book anymore. Bottom line (I think) is that Haynes gave us a woman truly in search of herself, a woman who has spent her entire life trying to be someone she is not. When that woman forges an astonishingly honest and sensual connection with a man happy to love her for herself, Haynes gives readers a love story that captivates. Trinity indulged her physical senses and grew to appreciate her body, her own will. And Scott loved that woman. That's what got me. Really got me.

Then...Haynes ruined Trinity (and very nearly Scott), intellectually, with poorly constructed setting and awful, awful caricatures for secondary characters. Ruined them. Trinity's work experience should have fed her growing independence (as Haynes likely intended). Instead, it served to showcase her empty head. Scott's work experience should have simply added layers, background for him. Instead, Haynes' cartoon accounting world actually dumbed him down.


  1. I guess Ms Haynes tried to do too much by adding all the subplots... what she should really have done was work on her characters instead.

    There's kind of a prequel to this book... I can't remember the title now... But I enjoyed it. Did you read it?

  2. I think The Fortune Hunter comes before this one and Fair Game after it. Unfortunately, given the references to the couple featured in The Fortune Hunter (throughout Show And Tell), I'm not inclined to read that one. Is that the one you read? And liked?

    Fair Game is also on my TBR list (via a blogger rec)...and I haven't decided if I'm going to read it...

  3. Hmmm... doesn't exactly sound like my cuppa.

  4. Honestly Lori? I don't know if you'd like it or not. I had huge issues with everything BUT the romance. Others may not be as put off by the same things. Course now that I highlighted them, LOL.

  5. I'm talking about the Fortune Hunter. but then, I like marriage of convenience plot.

  6. Hmmm, I may try the Fortune Hunter then Nath.

  7. LOL, no guarantee that you're going to like it though :) but yeah, if you enjoy marriage of convenience plot, I think you should give it a try. The story is quite light, but enjoyable.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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