This Week, I Read… (2017 #31)

100 - Bet Me

#100 – Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie

Surprisingly funny, though it never quite made me laugh out loud. A romance built on witty banter can be a challenge to pull off, because everyone’s sense of humor is different–I imagine some readers picked this up and found it dull, because the characters’ humor couldn’t reach them.

I sped through it because I did like the style, but it was also riddled with obvious flaws. The “villian” characters were so totally clueless I had a hard time taking them seriously. That very wittiness I praised seemed to be the same for most of the remaining characters, aside from the two lovey-dovey saps among the leads’ circles of friends–they were so bland they were downright irritating, when set among the others’ revelry.

So this was a mixed bag. It’s my first Crusie work, and I have a few others in the TBR pile because she’s been recommended to me several times. I enjoyed this enough that I’ll give at least one more a try before I decide if her works are for me, or not.

#101 + 102 – Simply Magic and Simply Perfect, by Mary Balogh

I’m going to review these together because they are essentially the same book, sadly.

The basic premise: spinster schoolteacher resists falling in love with titled gentleman, and fails. Titled gentleman falls for spinster schoolteacher despite many and varied reasons it could never work out between them. They sleep together, and things work out between them.

Reading the same story back to back like this really solidified for me the previously vague dislike I have for (most) period romances, especially Regency ones. I just don’t care for social stratification as the primary conflict in a romance, and I’ve read very few where that isn’t the core of the story. (Courtney Milan’s Trial by Desire comes to mind.) While “love can overcome” is certainly a worthwhile message to send, I want more variety.

Another dislike I have for both books is the incredibly large cast of characters, all of whom have at the very least a name and a title, and sometimes a nickname as well. I can track a few characters who have three names to their credit, but not a dozen. Diehard Regency fans would probably have much less trouble, but I simply don’t know the structure of the aristocracy backwards and forwards–it made sorting out who’s who and why they matter quite difficult.

The one good thing I got from this was an appreciation for fatherhood written convincingly. In Simply Perfect, our hero has an illegitimate daughter he’s devoted to, despite the norms of the day decreeing he should shun her, and his love for little Lizzie is intimately bound up in the romance plot. Maybe I should seek out some good single-dad contemporary romances to scratch that itch?

103 - Love Songs

#103 – Love Songs, by Barbara Delinsky

DNF around page 50. This was atrociously written. I held on as long as I did to see if the characters would have enough chemistry to make it worth my time, but it was just gross, gross, gross all around. He was an alpha-hole of the worst kind, she was a spineless slave to her hormones.

I didn’t realize when I got this (used, of course) that the two books bundled together were being rereleased from the early eighties. From the author’s foreword:

Initially, I had planned to edit each to align them with my current writing style, but a funny thing happened on the way to that goal. Totally engrossed, I read through each one, read pencil in hand, without making a mark! As a result, what you have here in this dual volume are the originals in their sweet, funny, sexy entirety.


Here’s what just the first page looks like after I took a crack at line edits to bring it more in line with my writing style. Honestly, this isn’t even all I could have done–the whole style is so awkwardly over-descriptive that if I were in charge of editing it, I’d send it back with orders to cut every unnecessary detail and at least two-third of the adverbs before I even touched it to make my own changes.

104 - Runaway Heart

#104 – Runaway Heart, by Amity Lassiter

It started out as a charming, believable story about a ranch owner hiring a homemaker to help care for the house and his adopted nephew and falling for her. The instant attraction was visceral and sexy. And then they had a little tryst, and things started to fall apart.

Everything after that solid setup felt rushed and incomplete. The first major conflict should have been “should he be sleeping with the help”–and not because of any relative social status, but because she’s his employee. But, consenting adults and all that, they decide quickly that maybe it looks like a terrible idea from the outside but they’re going to do it anyway. (I’m still a little squicked out, because she’s taking his paycheck–can she really consent honestly? The story makes tries to make it clear her job’s not in danger if she says no, and he’s definitely big on active consent, but the whole mess is brushed aside so quickly I don’t think it’s explored adequately.)

Then her estranged mother tracks her (and her sister, who’s along for the ride) down–somehow that’s never explained–and kidnaps the sister and the nephew. Technically taking her daughter isn’t kidnapping, as she still has legal custody, but she takes the boy too…because? It’s not explained either, and that is obviously a crime, and there’s no good reason for her to do it when she could leave the boy at home and not become a felon.

So when she’s caught, there’s the big hubbub with the police and social workers so that our heroine can try to get legal custody of her younger sister. It’s tense, I was worried, it was a great setup for a formal hearing about her case that would be the dramatic climax of the story.

And then the next chapter fast forwards entirely past the hearing, jumping weeks into the future when it’s all settled and everything’s okay. No big court scene? No chance of the mother showing her true colors on the stand and proving she’s not deserving? We don’t get to see the resolution of the biggest conflict in the story, we just get told it’s all okay now?

That’s where the book lost its potential fourth star, and after that, it’s straight to the hero popping the question to a woman he’s known for a few short months, because “when you know, you know.” I guess I should be mollified that it was a few months and not just a few days or something, but seriously, this was so rushed.


eBook cover

What We Need to Rebuild is now available!

When Nina wakes in an unfamiliar room with a doctor watching over her, she realizes Paul’s desperate plan worked. She’s alive. Weak and still injured, but alive.

Only Paul isn’t there with her.

Surrounded by strangers she doesn’t trust. Her precious pack with all her possessions, gone. If she wants to find Paul, Nina must gather her strength and find a way to resupply herself.

Or she could stay. She could rest and heal. She could forge new friendships and settle into a way of life that promised structure. A life that seemed far less dangerous than the one she’d be giving up.

But can any place truly be home without Paul?

We’ve reached the conclusion of the story, and the series, my lovely readers. Rest assured that there is a happy ending for Paul and Nina, despite everything I’ve put them through!

When I started this journey almost three years ago, I didn’t know I’d make it this far. I couldn’t have known my first book would be even the modest success it has been, and that I could finish and publish an entire trilogy. I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement I’ve received from my friends, readers, and fans. Thank you!

For new readers, I’ve also put together a digital complete-series edition, all three books together for a discounted price!

With the business end of things out of the way, it’s time to share the first chapter!

Chapter One – Consciousness

December 7th, 8:17 am – Open Hearts Methodist Church, Louisville, KY

The first thing Nina had to do was get her hands on her backpack.

My hands. My hand. She sighed, closing her eyes and clenching her fist. Dammit.

She wanted to wear her own clothes, not an itchy cloth hospital gown or the two layers of borrowed sweaters which smelled of cedar chips and dust. She forced her eyes open to study herself, her thin body under the thick blanket, her arms laid out on top.

But her eyes skittered away from the empty space on her left side, flicking over the makeshift infirmary instead, darting from one object to another. Stacks of mismatched cardboard boxes balanced precariously atop each other. Each bore swipes of black marker: Christmas ornaments and hymnals and Easter decorations and the vague catch-all donations.

Nina had already spent half an hour distracting herself from the throbbing in her arm by trying to count how many different people had labeled the boxes, according to their handwriting. Everything in the first stack on the left seemed to be from the same time period, marked with bold, blocky capital letters. The neighboring stack began with two boxes at the bottom with the same script, while the rest were written on by different hands. One was childish, with circles instead of dots over the i‘s, and the other flowing and elegant, even in the unforgiving medium of black Sharpie.

Most of the boxes in the third stack had been packed by a fourth person, judging by the nearly illegible scrawl, worthy of a doctor’s prescription pad. The only label Nina could make out was baby clothes. Maybe.

Doctor Ryan was keeping a log of Nina’s treatment. She’d seen the woman making notes, but she hadn’t seen the notes themselves. Maybe the doctor was the one who’d labeled that stack, but maybe not. Nina hadn’t been able to find out if Doctor Ryan was one of the surviving members of the church, or not. Jasmine said the doctor was already here when she and Connor decided to stay, but they weren’t churchgoers themselves. They wouldn’t have known whether she was or not.

Nina couldn’t make another attempt to glean that information, or anything else about the church, because for once, Doctor Ryan wasn’t with her. She’d been hovering since the moment Nina had woken up the day before—or at least, had woken up aware of herself.

The doctor hadn’t enjoyed Nina’s screaming, but she hadn’t been surprised by it, either. It must not have been the first time, just the first time Nina could remember.

She didn’t remember much of anything for the last two weeks. That much, she’d been able to ask straight out—how long she’d been at the church. That, the doctor couldn’t be vague about.

Nina had woken up again to morning sunlight streaming in through two small windows set high in the wall. She’d woken alone, and she hadn’t screamed when she remembered her missing arm.

She was oddly proud of that.

But she couldn’t bring herself to look at where it should have been, where her brain still believed it would be.

Instead, she studied the dusty globe perched on a rickety bookcase, its finial at the North Pole nearly touching the room’s low ceiling. The African continent stared down at her, a patchwork of brightly colored countries. She was too far from it to tell how out-of-date the borders were.

Even if it were brand-new, it would still probably be useless. Did the plague end up spreading everywhere? Is the whole world as devastated as we are?

She had no way of knowing, but she suspected the worst.

Voices from outside distracted her from her contemplation of global disaster. The words were muddled, indistinct through the solid brick wall. A group of feet walked by the windows, a mix of newer boots and tattered ones, dirty and practical. One person—hard to tell if those narrow, pegged jeans belonged to a man or a woman–wore a pair of classic Converse sneakers, royal blue canvas with startlingly white laces.

Nina didn’t see Paul’s familiar camel suede hiking boots.

Where were her boots, her clothes, her pack? None of her things were in the room with her, unless someone stowed them under the bed, where she couldn’t see. Leaning over the side of the bed had made her too dizzy to get a good look.

Paul must have her gear. Why hadn’t he come to see her yet?

If she’d been ill for two weeks, the church probably put Paul to work instead of letting him idle by her side all day, getting in the doctor’s way and doing nothing useful. That’s what people did before, sat with their loved ones at the hospital, but Nina didn’t imagine Paul could get away with it. He’d hate to be away from her while she was ill, but he was both kindhearted and thoroughly practical. He’d work gladly for the church in exchange for the time and supplies they were investing in Nina’s care.

So Paul hadn’t been with her the day before when she’d finally come to her senses. Doctor Ryan hadn’t sent for him, either, presumably because she’d been in such a fragile state.

Why isn’t he here now, then?

Footsteps sounded from beyond the door, which opened with a faint creak. Doctor Ryan poked her graying head in and blinked like a barn owl when she saw Nina awake and frowning.

The bewildered expression became a broad smile as she entered the room. “How are you feeling today?”

The genuine warmth in her tone reminded Nina of Sarah, as did her plump build and pale coloring. Doctor Ryan’s hair was longer, twisted into a neat bun at the nape of her neck, and more silver than blonde, but she had the same maternal, caring air.

“Hungry,” Nina answered. “Cranky. Bored.”

“The hungry part, I can do something about.” She tipped her head toward Nina’s IV stand. “That kept you from dehydration, but we could only feed you when you were awake long enough.”

Memories of Paul’s black eye swam up to cloud Nina’s vision as the doctor unhooked her from the drip. The firm pressure on her skin after the needle was withdrawn provided a welcome distraction from wondering what she had done or said in the time she couldn’t remember, and from the pulsing agony in her other arm.

“How’s the pain?” the doctor asked, as if she knew the direction of Nina’s thoughts.

“About the same as yesterday. And it . . .”

Ryan sat down in the chair beside the bed and began to unpin the folded sweater sleeves at the end of Nina’s shortened arm. “It what?”

“It itches.” The itching was more maddening than the pain.

“Taking care of that won’t be as easy as getting you fed, because it’s part of the healing process. But it will fade. In the meantime, you’ll have to learn to ignore it. You can’t go tearin’ at your bandages to scratch the itch.” She unwound the white knob of gauze where Nina’s elbow should have been. The innermost bandages came away stained, watery pink and yellow. “Good. Less seepage than yesterday, and the swelling’s down. Pretty soon we can switch you to a compression bandage, after I take your sutures out. Tomorrow, or the day after.”

The line of stitches curved in a half-circle around the inner edge of her arm. They were neat and small and even, a far cry from her own clumsy needlework on Paul’s skin.

It was easier for Nina to believe her hand and forearm were gone, to forbid her brain from tricking her into still feeling them, when she stared at those tiny black stitches.

They disappeared, though, when the doctor placed the end of a new length of gauze against Nina’s skin. A few silent minutes later, her arm was bandaged neatly, her sweaters refolded and pinned in place.

Ryan stood. “Do you need the bed pan?”

Nina cringed, but she nodded. She’d already tried to get out of bed once and barely managed to sit up without the room spinning. There was no way she could make it to a bathroom—there’s no way there’s a working bathroom anyway, I bet they go outside—so she submitted to the necessary embarrassment. The bed pan didn’t bother her as much as knowing she’d been wearing adult diapers during her illness, when she couldn’t communicate her needs, and knowing the doctor had changed her and cleaned her.

Once that unpleasantness was over and Doctor Ryan returned with the empty, rinsed pan, she returned it to its place on the small table of tools before sitting beside the bed. “Now that you’re awake and aware, we should fill in your medical history, so I can treat you better.”

Nina shifted on the bed, trying to push herself higher on the mountain of pillows propping her up. Sharp pain flared in her arm when she pressed the bandages against the mattress, but she fought through it. “What do you need to know?”

“Any drug allergies? I had to risk the antibiotics to keep you with us, but I haven’t been giving you anything for the pain. Not that we have much, but a few things might help.”

Nina shook her head. “Nothing I’ve run into. But . . . but I don’t want anything that might be addictive. I can’t risk that. If this is as bad as the pain’s going to get, I can tough it out.”

Ryan nodded. “We’ll try you out on something mild, just to help you sleep, if you need it.” She made a note, then rattled off a long list of medical conditions, asking if she or her parents had suffered from any of them. Nina answered as best she could remember until the doctor made one last check mark. Then the doctor cocked her head to the side. “When was your last period?”

“Um . . .” Nina struggled to fix a time frame around the missing days. “It ended right before my arm got broken, about a week before I got here.” She’d been sick three days, or maybe four, before Paul had gone looking for medicine for her. And he’d told her he’d driven three days to get her to the church. “So, three weeks ago?”

“I see. Has your cycle been regular, since the plague? A lot of the women have had issues, going off their birth control unexpectedly.”

A mild way to describe the total collapse of normal health care. “I wasn’t on any, and my period’s always been clockwork, every twenty-nine days.” Nina swallowed past a lump in her throat. “Are you trying to ask me if I could be pregnant?”

Doctor Ryan straightened her shoulders. “You’re not. I couldn’t do the full blood work I’d normally order for a patient before surgery, but every drug store in the city still has pregnancy tests on the shelves. I couldn’t put you under without checking first, not in good conscience.”

“Right, of course. I’m sorry.”

“Did you think you might have been?” Her tone was somewhere between sympathetic and speculative.

“No.” It had been weeks since Paul had touched her, and even after he’d known he didn’t have to be careful, he still had been. “No, I didn’t.”

“I can’t say I didn’t wonder, with how you and that man showed up in desperate straits.”

Nina’s skin rose in goosebumps under her hospital gown. “That man”? Why wouldn’t she know his name? “He’s not . . .”

Before she could decide how to finish the question, the doctor broke in. “Nobody got the story out of him before he was gone. We didn’t know what happened to you.”

“Gone?” Nina whispered. No, no, no . . .

Something in Doctor Ryan’s expression softened. “Oh, no, dear, he’s alive. Or at least, he was two weeks ago. Once I shooed him off so I could take care of you, Derek put him in one of the empty rooms over at the motel. The next morning, he was gone. Disappeared without a word. Nobody saw him leave, but the car you came in was gone, too, so he must have packed up before dawn and hit the road.”

Nina opened her mouth, but no words came out. Tears pooled in her eyes, but she didn’t cry. She wouldn’t, not in front of the doctor.

Not in front of anyone, ever again.

She couldn’t hide her shaking, though. “He meant something to you?” Ryan asked.

“A friend.” Nina forced the words out through numb lips. “He was my friend. Or I thought he was.”

Ryan patted Nina’s shoulder. “Some people aren’t made for sitting still. But he got you to us in time, and you’re welcome to stay, even if he didn’t.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll go get some breakfast for you, then.”

Being a doctor must have put her in the middle of all sorts of difficult emotional situations—she knew the value of a tactful retreat. But Nina still didn’t allow herself to cry when she was alone. She turned her face to the windows and stared at the sunlight.

Paul had promised he would never leave her without telling her first. Doctor Ryan hadn’t mentioned a note or a letter or even a verbal message for her. If Paul had meant to leave one, the doctor would be the obvious choice.

Nina had made a promise, too.

How on earth am I going to find him?

Her gear was gone, apparently. Her spare clothing, her food, her small stash of medicine, the flashlight she’d barely had long enough to think of as hers.

Half of her left arm was gone, too. She made herself study what remained, raising it off the bed. Movement of any kind made the throbbing worse, bringing tears back to her eyes, but she lifted her arm and focused on it. The rounded swell of bandages beneath the intricately cabled sweater occupied the space where her elbow used to be. Even after endless minutes of staring straight at it, Nina still thought, if she tried hard enough, she could tell her arm to bend, and it would.

It didn’t.

She could raise it or lower it or wave it in little circles. Those caused a pulling tightness in her shoulder muscles, but the ache was pleasant compared to the throbbing pain.

I’ll do this as much as I can stand, whenever I’m alone. And the doctor will probably have exercises for me to do, even if she wasn’t specialized in physical therapy. That seems like something she’d have to know anyway. I need to get my strength back.

She’d already started over once, and it was the last thing she wanted to do again.

The first thing she’d need to find was a new backpack.

This Week, I Read… (2017 #30)

98 - The Dark Tower

#98 – The Dark Tower, by Stephen King

Really, it’s more like 2.5 stars. It’s better than Song of Susannah, though not by much–it shares many of the same flaws.

The pacing sucks. TDT plods along, spending way too much time introducing new minor characters and minor antagonists and fleshing them out, only to have them exit the story soon after. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE LITTLE OLD LADY WHO DRIVES ROLAND AROUND IN THE “REAL” WORLD BECAUSE HE CAN’T DRIVE HIMSELF. I JUST DON’T.

And, without getting too much into spoiler territory…Mordred. What was the point of him existing at all? He never did much of anything. Sure, he offed two characters, but a) one didn’t necessarily have to die and b) the one that did met a spectacularly disappointing end at Mordred’s hands. I was truly let down by that.

In fact, I was let down by pretty much all the character deaths and departures. Only one actually made me tear up a little, and the others simply fell flat.

What was good, though, was really good. Even if it took me eight days to get there, I actually really enjoyed the ending! It felt satisfying in a bittersweet way that appealed to my sense of balance. And really, that was the only end that made any sense for Roland. As for everyone else, it was just sweet, without the bitter.

So, at the end of this seven-book journey, am I happy with the series as a whole? No, not really. Book 1 was weird, 2 and 3 pretty good, 4 ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, 5 okay, 6 terrible, 7 only slightly less terrible. While I was still reading, I told people I was happy I didn’t have to wait years in between installments, and I was–but now, I’m even happier, because it makes my disappointment more bearable, that I wasn’t waiting years for this.

99 - Again the Magic

#99 – Again the Magic, by Lisa Kleypas

This felt bland compared to the other Kleypas books I’ve read. Granted, that’s only the first two in the Hathaways series–but this lacked the emotional depth and characterization I was expecting. It’s an earlier work, so I guess she’s improved over the course of her career, which is understandable.

Also, oddly, I liked the secondary romance plot (Livia and Shaw) much better than the primary couple, Aline and McKenna. Too angsty for me, I guess.

Love Songs Are My Favorite: Inside the Music of WHAT WE NEED TO REBUILD


Every book of mine has a playlist, it’s the way I roll.

If you weren’t around for the first two, you can catch up on your listening here:

What We Need to Survive :: What We Need to Decide

The final installment in the series has its emotional ups and downs just as the story does, so be prepared for a rollercoaster.

What We Need to Rebuild playlist

The Promise — What better way to start things off than with a song about strength and survival? Nina did make Paul a promise, after all.

Satellite — Paul’s always been watching Nina, in one way or another.

Sweetness Follows — Once again, they can’t all be love songs. Family’s complicated.

Colorful — Love doesn’t expect someone to be perfect; love accepts them as they are.

Peace — A song that covers all the bases of Paul’s hopes for the future.

Hold On Forever — The first time I heard this, I knew it would be something Paul would sing to Nina.

Losing It All — What they both want most is to be together.

I’m excited to get to finally share this, I’ve been sitting on some of these songs for two years now…and I’m even more excited to finally share the rest of the story! Next Monday, everybody, and you can finally find out how it ends!

COVER REVEAL: What We Need to Rebuild!

eBook cover

The third and final installment of the What We Need series will be released on August 14th! Just one week from today!

When Nina wakes in an unfamiliar room with a doctor watching over her, she realizes Paul’s desperate plan worked. She’s alive. Weak and still injured, but alive.

Only Paul isn’t there with her.

Surrounded by strangers she doesn’t trust. Her precious pack with all her possessions, gone. If she wants to find Paul, Nina must gather her strength and find a way to resupply herself.

Or she could stay. She could rest and heal. She could forge new friendships and settle into a way of life that promised structure. A life that seemed far less dangerous than the one she’d be giving up.

But can any place truly be home without Paul?

As with the previous books, paperbacks will be available through Amazon, and digital editions available through all major retailers.

In addition, a digital boxed set will be available for newcomers to the series, all three books together at a discounted price!

I’ll be back on Wednesday with the book’s music playlist, a tradition I wouldn’t dare give up now…

This Week, I Read… (2017 #29)

94 - Song of Susannah

#94 – Song of Susannah, by Stephen King

What a disappointment. If it had just been one thing that irked me, not half a dozen…

To some degree the book felt like killing time before the end of everything, stretching out the event cliff-hangered in book 5 (the delivery of Susannah/Mia’s child) all the way to the end. It doesn’t drag its feet as much as A Song of Ice and Fire does in books 4 + 5, certainly, but I still felt like this book took longer than its plot deserved.

The narrative is fractured, leaving each character or pair of characters entirely in their own section of the book, with incredibly little overlap. Okay, fine, if the story demands it, but we’ve spent the last four books seeing these characters getting to know each other and working together, so yanking them apart for an entire book feels weird. Cheap, even.

Mia is annoying. There. I said it. I thought I liked Detta least of all of Susannah’s personalities, but now, Mia takes the cake. And her backstory makes pretty much no sense.

Hand-waving all sorts of small mistakes in the overarching narrative by blaming it on the increasing chaos of the multiworld…well, that does make sense. (This is actually a quibble I didn’t mention from the previous book, but Detroit is not on Lake Michigan, as it is in one of Father Callahan’s scenes. I was really scratching my head at that one–now I know IT’S ALL DISCORDIA’S FAULT.)

But Stephen King writing himself in as a character Roland meets? I was trying to suspend my disbelief, and laugh at King’s cleverness, but I was also waiting for it to turn tongue-in-cheek, and it didn’t, not really. I just can’t take it seriously, even though I usually love it in TV/movies when the fourth wall gets broken. Here, it made me uncomfortable, and vaguely sad, because King writes openly about his (former) addictions and the impact on his life. It was really the final section of the book that got to me, a collection of (hopefully) fictionalized journal entries by the author detailing the events surrounding the writing of the series and how it almost didn’t happen at all. Ending that section with the collision that nearly killed him IRL, which he writes so movingly about in On Writing, but turning it into a character death? I honestly felt sick. I don’t think I was supposed to, but I did.

I’m crossing my fingers that the final book makes reading this one worth it.

95 - A Game of You96 - Fables and Reflections

#95 + #96 – A Game of You and Fables and Reflections, by Neil Gaiman

I participated in a Tumblr read-a-thon on Sunday, where my goal was to finish Song of Susannah (check) and read as many of the Sandman volumes as I could. I got through one and a half that afternoon, and finished Fables the next day.

A Game of You was charming, thrilling, and ultimately sad in a cathartic way. I loved the characters, especially Wanda, who could hold a conversation with a flayed face on the wall (eww) but still be frightened of more personal matters. I loved Barbara, who created a vivid fantasy land from her childhood stuffed animals–totally relatable to me, I’d do that in a heartbeat! I enjoyed it from start to finish, which sadly I cannot say of the next volume.

Fables is a mishmash of single-story issues from all over the comic’s run, and it shows. There’s very little holding them together, and the quality varies greatly between them. Honestly, most of the vignettes bored me, aside from The Song of Orpheus (brilliantly written) and Ramadan (brilliantly drawn). The rest I waded through because I hoped they might give me hints to the larger workings of the story, but they don’t reveal much about Morpheus I didn’t already know, and they’re bogged down with excessive historical detail. I might have liked them better if I’d read the comics in published order, and gotten them one at a time, so they didn’t blur together in a repetitive mess of exposition.

97 - A Long Fatal Love Chase

#97 – A Long Fatal Love Chase, by Louisa May Alcott

It’s exactly what it says in the title, no more. It’s a good title, I’ll grant it that–but it’s a bad story.

Even when I read Little Women first at ten years old, I knew that Jo (mine and nearly everyone’s favorite sister) was a thinly veiled self-insert character for the author. I didn’t have the terminology to call her that yet, but I still knew. And reading Chase has only strengthened that–this is exactly the sort of pulpy, sensationalist trash Jo was writing as a “scribbler” for the weekly papers.

It’s got no foreshadowing, no depth, no subtlety of any kind. Rosamund runs from her “husband,” believes for a time she’s safe, and then WHAM! there he is. (Or his manservant, either way.) She’s forced to meet with the man she is trying to get out of her life, and he tries to win her back/threatens her/both. She finds a way to escape him.

THAT’S THE WHOLE BOOK. The characters are the most papery-thin of nearly anything I’ve ever read. The action is forced and unsatisfying. The ending is abrupt but predictable. There’s no justice, no remorse, no guilt, it’s just over.

The coverleaf and the end matter present this book as a lost novel of Alcott’s, rejected by her publishers because it was too sensational a story to print at the time. However, that doesn’t mean it was worth publishing now–it could also have been rejected because it’s bad.

It’s Giveaway Time!

To gear up for the release of the final book in the series, What We Need to Rebuild, I’m giving away one paperback copy each of the first two books, via Goodreads!

What We Need to Survive giveaway :: What We Need to Decide giveaway

While you’re there, why not follow me or be my friend? That way you can ask me questions, and keep up with what I’m reading, my book reviews, and my blog posts all in one place!