Lisa Kleypas – "Suddenly You"

16 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2006 (2001)

The back blurb:
“She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn’t about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettable handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible … but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.
Jack Devil’s determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London’s most notorious businessman, refused to live by society’s rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected … but both soon craved.”

I really don’t know what to think about this novel. I look at my post About Grades and read: “3 / 5 = okay” and “2 / 5 = some serious flaws” and think “I don’t call Suddenly You an okay read. I think it’s boring and bland. But does it have serious flaws? It’s more that it’s missing something.”

Maybe I start at the beginning. I knew about the story – successful female novelist in London hires male prostitute to celebrate her 30th birthday and that it takes place in the past (1836). I admit, it thought it a bit improbable but was willing to go along with it (mainly for the older woman/younger man angle). Reading the first chapters, I couldn’t shake the question why is this story set in 1836? I saw nothing that made it necessary to do that. Everything I read suggested the story would be better off set in our time. The premise, the characters, the sensibilities, heck, even the publishing details – everything seemed to me modern concepts (maybe even the older woman/younger man sensibility). It could be that I just read too much about historical accuracy lately, I don’t know. Anyway, later I discovered the reason why this story had to be set in 1836: there are rumours about Amanda’s and Jack’s affair. Jack is unwilling to marry Amanda and she breaks their affair off because of the possible scandal. Of course, this storyline wouldn’t have worked in the present time! So it all makes sense now.

Or not. You see, the whole time I read the novel I tried to get what it was about, to get a grasp on the plot. To me, Suddenly You read more like a succession of well-known and all too predictable situations and reactions without any real story to tell. The best I could come up with was that it was about a woman discovering herself. So while the whole novel centers on Amanda, with the handbook romance situations and Amanda’s constant “I’m not beautiful,” it didn’t convince as the story of a woman’s self-discovery. It didn’t help that later in the story, Amanda (for the sake of more pages?) seemed to act out of character or that the age gap between the hero and the heroine is only really a point of conflict very late in the novel and then written in a way that suggests page count (which means, instead of actual conflict you have another bland plot element). Maybe even more problematic is, that because of the unconvincing character arc, Suddenly You reads like a wish-fulfillment story. Everything you could wish for when you feel all alone and unappreciated and whiny the character in the novel gets (and that’s another kind of Mary-Sue character).

So I look at my post about the grades again. And I think that I like that Kleypas writes about people who’re not part of the aristocracy, that I like to read about writers (the whole meta-thing going on) and that the writing itself is not bad. And then I think that there are things that could have been handled in another, more thoughtful and better way. And really, what it comes down to probably is that in the end, Suddenly You just didn’t work for me.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably not.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not.

Grade: 2 / 5


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