>> Saturday, March 11, 2017
.I was on my way to buy another of Belldene's books based on a review, but as soon as I saw that she had a novella set in São Paulo, I got that one instead. Urban Latin American settings are remarkably lacking from pretty much all sorts of fiction in English (in fact, the only other two I can think of are a Kathy Reichs mystery and Ann Patchett's Bel Canto). There are plenty of books with jungle or Mexican desert settings, some rural towns, but almost no big cities. This was irresistible.
Cassie Wilson has traveled to Brazil for her brother's wedding; yet she's the one with cold feet. She's all set to begin seminary, but she's sick and tired of being treated like a saint, especially by the best man. What she really needs is one sexy night with him to ease her jitters and give her a taste of normal life.
The book is about Cassie Wilson, who is about to enter the seminary to become a priest. Her brother is getting married to a Brazilian woman, and the wedding will take place in São Paulo, where her family live. Cassie is delighted to be there for the wedding, except for the prospect of having to spend time with the best man, her brother's best friend Adam. She has long been attracted to Adam and it seems the attraction is reciprocated. However, her vocation seems to have made him put her on a pedestal as someone who is halfway to being a saint, someone he clearly shouldn't touch.
I found myself extremely annoyed right at the beginning of this novella. What annoyed me was the butchering of the Portuguese in the dialogue. I am getting more and more intolerant about this. It's always bothered me, but I used to just be able to let it roll off me. Now, not so much. It's just that really, if you're taking a culture not your own and using it as a setting in one of your books, the very least you can do is do some basic checking to make sure you're getting the language right. I'm fine with a few mistakes -typos do creep in! But here it was way too much. Within the first couple of pages we have: a Portuguese woman saying "Obrigado" instead of "Obrigada" and receiving the heroine by saying "Cassandra, bienvenudo", "fejoida" for "feijoada", "Pao de quejo" for "Pão de queijo", and many more. The most annoying thing is that I got the impression that Belldene must actually have spent some time in São Paulo, because this felt otherwise pretty real.
The language issues were just an irritant, which I could have got over if I'd otherwise liked the book. However, the romance did not work for me at all. It's possible that being annoyed by the Portuguese right at the start might have affected how I read the rest of book, but I don't think that was it, or at least not the whole of the story. The most frustrating thing is that I was interested in the basic conflict as it was theoretically set up. A woman who has a vocation to be a priest, and struggles with men not treating her as a real woman, but as some sort of pure, untouchable saint because of it... that's interesting. The thing is, it didn't really feel like that was Adam's problem. It felt more like the stupid, old-fashioned perception that women are the possession of their male family members, so he can't have anything to do with Cassie because it would be an offense against his best friend, her brother. He even goes and asks the brother for permission, for pity's sake.
There's also zero chemistry between Adam and Cassie. We're told there is, and we immediately have this scene where Cassie basically pounces on Adam and grabs his cock. Whoa there, maybe you could just ease me into the romance? I didn't feel I knew the characters, therefore I didn't care about them, therefore the sex was boring.
Yeah, this one didn't work for me at all.
MY GRADE: A D.