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This book has me so conflicted. There were things I liked. One or two things I loved, and a fairly long list of irritations. So where to start?
I liked Vinnie. He’s earnest and his heart is in the right place. His loyalty (and affection and love) for his boss Dan is adorable. That his loyalty lands him in a heap of trouble is inevitable. Pretty much everything about Vinnie was endearing. That he fancies himself a PI and goes on the internet to learn what to do is laughable and yet fits the earnest young man. He sees wrong in the world – injustice – and he believe it is his responsibility to fix it. Nice in theory, horrible in reality. I’m happy he got his HFN (Happy For Now) and am interested in the next two books.
The women who work in the firm with Vinnie and Dan are also a hoot, especially Blanca. These women are accepting of Vinnie and protective of each other. Catty? Of course. But only toward those who deserve it.
I loved Ben the body builder. He could have been a stereotypical meathead body builder, but author Charles Puccia gave the character depth. Once I learned Ben’s backstory, I wanted to wrap him in a big hug. His honesty was wonderfully refreshing – he has no artifice. He’s a genuinely good guy.
Ben is selfless, offering help even when he has no obligation. He feels this might provide redemption for a past wrong. He listens to Maria Callas perform Madame Butterfly and quotes The New Yorker.
At this point, I want to mention the narration. Derrick McClain is one of my favourites and I’m always pleased to see his name attached to projects. His performance with this book was admirable. Aside from a few mispronounced words, he shines. His laughter for the character Bill, “har har, har har,” drove me nuts. But it was supposed to, so that was a good job. That he managed to say some of the lines without cracking up is also admirable.
So, now the complaints. These aren’t spoilers, but the next section is very explicit – which I think necessary. As I listener, I think you deserve a warning. First of all, the ‘c’ word used to describe a part of a woman’s anatomy is dropped at least twenty times by the villain. Appropriate? Possibly… Excessive? Absolutely. Some listeners are offended by the word when used to refer to a woman in derogatory terms. When used in certain contexts – BDSM and erotic books – and used in a sexual context, it can be hot and sexy. There are some women who are trying to reclaim the word. This author’s gratuitous use of it feels like a cheap trick. J.D. Robb, for instance, does use the word – but only in rare circumstances and only once. Judicious use provides it with impact. Repeated use is just icky.
Then there are the physical descriptions. Ginny has sthenolagnia, a compulsive obsession with muscles – usually other peoples’. I swear this illness was just an excuse for the writer to wax poetical about bulky, muscular men. It was just too much (unless you have the same obsession). I’m also not a fan of endless repetition. How many times do characters have to admire and squeeze Ben’s biceps? I don’t think there was one person who met Ben and didn’t feel him up. Vinnie was a breath of fresh air because bulging veins and huge muscles were a turn-off for him.
Here is a sample of some of the descriptions of women:
- Torpedo tits, hubcap derriere, vulva (which wouldn’t be so bad except in the middle of the sex scene, every part of the female anatomy is listed as if the author was following pictures in an anatomy textbook. The two lines that almost did me in were: “she wanted him to insert…her vagina was ready,” and “she felt his squirt on her cervical wall”. My notes said respectively: GAG and GROSS. (For the record, the cervix does not have nerve endings.)
I’ve read hundreds of erotic novels: male/female, male/male, female/female, m/m/m, m/f/m, and several other combinations, so it’s pretty hard to annoy me. For the record, I have never read anything like these lines. I don’t know if it’s because the author is male and he thought this was sexy, or he really thought readers would enjoy this.
The men aren’t spared:
-Mushroom tip, throbbing penis, pulsating penis, pulsing penis, double decker bus (Ben). Given the level of crudity in this book, the repeated use of penis was jarring. C*@k would have worked much better. Also, gyrating walnut balls and a pectoral cleft (whatever that is) left me…unimpressed.
So can you separate the writing from the story and narration? No, I don’t think so. Plus, the ridiculous sex scene between Dan, Ginny, and Ben is just beyond over-the-top. Literally.
Okay, characters I didn’t like. Ginny. She was just plain irritating. Yes, fetishes and obsessions are real. Yes, some of them border on pathological. So, to be clear, I am not belittling her illness. How she tries to ‘cure’ herself? I don’t think there is a single psychological professional who would approve. The devastation left in her wake is staggering. And her treatment of Dan, her husband? Blowing hot and cold, depending on how ‘manly’ she perceives him to be – in that moment! Uh, not good for any relationship.
There are lots of flashbacks into the courtship of Ginny and Dan. Why warning bells weren’t going off in his head…for a guy who’s so smart, he can be clueless. Now, Ginny’s mother’s explanation of sthenolagnia might, perhaps, explain her daughter’s obsession. The Ice Cream Man story does feel a little far-fetched, though.
At first, I was excited about the length of the audiobook. A good thriller or mystery can easily carry ten or more hours. Unfortunately, this was not a good thriller or mystery. At one point, the group of administrative assistants were trying to retrieve some information. It is nice that the author made it so detailed…but fifteen minutes to find some information? The back and forth was just, frankly, boring. A reader can be trusted to believe a character can accomplish something without having been shown each little tiny step.
Also, there are a lot of interior monologues that do nothing to develop the character or advance the plot. Candidly, it’s just characters whining. A point of warning – this is a head-hopping point-of-view narrative without any clear delineation, so sometimes you’re not sure whose point-of-view you’re supposed to be in.
There were some good parts – the use of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, for example. The theoretical ideas about economies rebounding after crashes was also informative. I like books that make me think and sometimes this book fit the bill. Other times, I had to push through.
Remember, though, that this is only my opinion. I know there are listeners out there who will enjoy this book. It’s a little campy and often funny. I might even consider reading the next book because I love how Vinnie’s relationship is developing and I can’t wait to make sure he gets his Happily Ever After.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
the book is hilarious a lovely and funny story I liked it very very much a beautiful story with amazing characters each and everyone of them and nice story to behold and listen to
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."
1 of 1 people found this review helpful