Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Book Review: Married by Morning

Le sigh...

It's really not Lisa Kleypas's fault. It was bound to happen eventually. It's like me and country music; I used to love it and listen to it almost exclusively. But after a number of years, listening to a genre that doesn't change or evolve is just bound to get tiring. I'm starting to feel this way about my old bastion of go-to historical romance authors. They're just not cutting it for me anymore.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Married by Morning, but there's nothing particularly right about it, either. This book is the fourth book in Kleypas's Hathaway siblings series, which, full disclosure, I have not enjoyed. I was thinking this book would be different, though, because there is more back story. The hero is Leo, the only Hathaway brother. At the beginning of the series he inherits a title and lands extremely unexpectedly, but he is a total reprobate and has been since he lost his childhood love to scarlet fever. At some point he comes to terms with those demons and starts living a better life.

The heroine is Catharine Marks, paid companion/governess to the youngest two Hathaway sisters. And, as we learn in the third book, half-sister to hotelier Harry Rutledge (who marries Poppy Hathaway). We find out in the third book that Catherine is hiding her true identity, but we don't know why. What we do know is that Leo and Catharine pester each other and bicker a lot. So naturally that means they will eventually fall in love.

And course that's what happens in Married by Morning. Everything is exactly as you would expect. She's got a problem, and he (being the titled, rich male) will fix it for her.

You know what? I take back what I said about it not being Lisa Kleypas's fault. It is her fault, really, for just relying on the tired, standard formula of a damsel in distress. And I am really tired of it. I'm tired of the virginal heroine being rescued (in some way or another) by the hero. I'm tired of the heroine who relies on the hero for her sexual awakening instead of taking charge of it herself. IT'S BEEN DONE.

Now that I think about it, I can understand why there has been an explosion of paranormal, urban fantasy, and even male-male romance novels lately. We are all tired of just reading the same thing again and again.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. A standard genre plot can be done with a compelling emotional story, humor, or excellent writing. Authors like Lisa Kleypas have this ability. Her book Again the Magic is one of my favorites. This is why I am all the more intolerant when good writers get lazy and rely on their name to sell books. As a reader, that is really frustrating.

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