Three short reviews for three short books

>> Friday, September 28, 2018

TITLE: The Reluctant Nude
AUTHOR: Meg Maguire

Max Emery is a sculptor. His latest commission is a strange one. He's supposed to be making a nude sculpture of a woman, Fallon Frost, who doesn't seem to want it done, yet insists he proceed. Turns out that's because Fallon is being coerced into it by a man who's threatening to demolish the one place in the world where she was happy as a child, unless she poses for a nude statue for his private collection.

I liked this. The romance between Fallon and Max is slow and gradual in developing, and pretty intense. The conflict, for all the external stuff, feels character driven. The whole thing felt quite fresh and new to me, not the same-old, same-old. At the same time, though, the external premise felt a bit pointless to me, kind of unnecessarily strange, considering the use that is made of it in the end.

MY GRADE: A B-.

TITLE: Aquamarine
AUTHOR: Catherine Mulvany

Several years ago, a heiress disappeared. Our heroine, Shea, is a dead ringer for her. Teague, who used to be the heiress's fiancé, is convinced she was murdered. He asks Shea to impersonate her in an effort to draw out her murderer (and make her dying dad happy). Shea is all "hell, no", until she sees a photo of the sick dad, and realises he looks exactly like her supposedly dead birth father.

This one just felt off to me. The tone was wrong. It all felt awfully casual, way too cheery when we're talking about murder and duping a dying father. Plus, I found Shea's motivation for going along unconvincing. Mulvany tries to justify her agreement to this plan, but it feels flimsy. There is no reason why she couldn't just ask this man questions directly once she's got access to him, instead of purposely putting herself in what is obviously quite a dangerous position. I also felt wrong of Teague to ask this much of a stranger. Finally, the book felt pretty dated in the way the heiress's character was assassinated in order to make Teague look better.

Bah.

MY GRADE: A DNF.

TITLE: Intrusion
AUTHOR: Charlotte Stein

Intrusion is about two people, Noah and Beth, who were affected by violence in a way that still shapes their lives today. Both are very damaged by it, and it affects their day-to-day existence. They meet when Beth takes the immensely courageous step of confronting Noah, thinking he's done something to her dog, only to realise they have a lot in common. Things go from there.

I tend to love Stein's books. I usually adore her almost-stream-of-consciousness writing style and find it builds intensity beautifully. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me this time. I found it a bit distracting and hard to follow, even hard to understand what on earth was going on sometimes. I also didn't like the ending, where I felt the book turned into something completely different and I found it all preposterous. So an odd miss for me with Stein here. Eh, well.

MY GRADE: A C+.

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