Thursday, May 03, 2007

Book Review: The Wrong Hostage

I have no complaints about The Wrong Hostage specifically. Elizabeth Lowell is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors and she's really good at crafting a phrase (okay, I'm trying to say that I like her writing style). But I do have a beef with a general theme that showed up in this book that often shows up in other and it just makes me so frustrated I'm going to rant about it.

I am so freakin' sick of heroines that are supposed to be smart, confident, strong women who marry complete losers! Unfailingly we're supposed to feel sorry for them or at least think that they're completely in the right. But most of the time I just end up wondering why they were dumb enough to hook up with such a total and complete slimeball to begin with. Sure, I know people do stupid things in the name of love, but romance authors always write about these ex-husbands like they have no redeeming qualities at all, and they've always been that way. It's so frustrating for me to admire a woman that would be so stupid as to (A) marry a guy like that, and (B) stay with him.

In The Wrong Hostage for example, the heroine is a federal district court judge that is so amazing and wonderful that she passed the bar at the age twenty-one. Please. Don't even get me started on that shit in romance novels. If you want to make you almost-forty year old heroine be a hotshot defense attorney when she had her kid sixteen years before, then turn her into a forty-something year old, okay? Don't bend the rules of logic. I'm supposed to believe that she went through college and law school by the age of twenty-one? Not gonna happen. There are not a plethora of Doogie Howsers in the world, yet they all seem to end up in romance novels. ANYWAY, back to the point. Grace, the heroine, was dating her future husband when she had a torrid weekend affair with the hero in the book. They parted ways soon afterwards, and she married her boyfriend and never told him that she wasn't sure that he was the father of the child she carried (don't worry, this is revealed very early on in the book). Turns out he wasn't, and needless to say, he was a little pissed. But she stayed married to him despite his MANY, MANY affairs for years afterwards. Oh, and he was always a shitty father to her son. WHY DIDN'T SHE JUST DIVORCE HIM? Instead she never tells her son the truth and her ex does some terrible things. I'm reading this thinking, She's an idiot. And, she has no right to be full of righteous indignation. What she did was pretty terrible and dishonest herself. The son's biological father, WHOM SHE NEVER TOLD, EITHER, accused her of using him for a stud then marrying a billionaire to be the kid's father. He was spot on! She was a loser! I like flawed heroines, but not immoral, dishonest ones! And I totally didn't feel sorry for her that she married a man she never loved because that was her own dumb choice. Am I too judgmental? Maybe, people do make mistakes, but I don't read romance novels to hear about those kinds of stupid-ass mistakes.

So please, romance writers, if you're going to put an ex-husband in the story, don't completely villianize him. It makes the heroine seem retarded for falling for such a loser in the first place. Linda Howard managed to have a perfectly nice and normal ex-husband for her heroine in Cry No More, so it can be done.

1 comment:

Dr. Strenglove said...

I completely agree with your comments. I, too, wondered why Grace didn't divorce Ted a decade before the story opened, as he was portrayed as a completely terrible person. Grace, to me, was completely unlikable, grating, whining, and irritating. I also agree that if a heroine or hero is supposed to be a doctor/lawyer/politician/CEO, than the author needs to have her/him be a logical age. Forty-something is fine.
In contrast, I very much liked the character of Joe Faroe, and just wished Grace would shut up or go away and let him do his job. Grace didn't deserve Joe. She probably will make his life miserable (again).