sábado, 13 de febrero de 2016

Reluctant Romantic Review: Deep in the Valley (Grace Valley Trilogy #1) - Robyn Carr

June Hudson grew up in Grace Valley, the daughter of the town doctor. Leaving only to get her medical training, she returned home and followed in her father's footsteps. Some might say she chose the easy, comfortable route... but June knows better. For June, her emergency room is wherever she's needed - or wherever a patient finds her. Always on call, her work is her life, these people her extended family. Which is a good thing, since this is a town where you should have picked your husband in the ninth grade. Grace Valley is not exactly the place to meet eligible men - until an undercover DEA agent suddenly starts appearing at all sorts of strange hours.

My first Reluctant Romantic read was Robyn Carr's Deep in the Valley. After reading Virgin River last year and rather enjoying it, I decided to start safely with an author I've already read. I decided to start with the original trilogy, Grace Valley, because I'm one of those persons who need to read everything in order or go nuts. In this case, it was a bad idea.

Deep in the Valley is really light on romance. In fact, shelving it as romance is probably a mistake. It's more like a mashup of small town and medical novels, if those were genres at all. The undercover DEA agent who is going to be the hero? Doesn't appear until midway through the novel. And he interacts with the heroine a grand total of three times. He has no more than ten sentences on the whole book! It's not a relationship in which one can become invested, definitely. If I hadn't read Virgin River first, I couldn't care less about the budding romance between June Hudson and Jim Post.

The rest of the novel is all over the place and unfocused. The first half drags and it's a bit boring. There are too many characters with similar names and similar voices, and it's difficult to keep track of everyone. Then things finally start happening: an adulterous pastor, a secret pregnancy, two cases of abuse, a DEA raid, a rough birth, the heroine possibly saved by an angel... It was enough to keep me entertained, but it's ultimately a forgettable novel. 

Where Carr really shines is in the short romance scenes. She's really good at conveying true emotion - it's easy to believe the characters are really falling for each other. However, as she gives the hero no room for characterization, he comes across as quite stalkerish. I mean, if someone I've just met twice before entered in my house while I'm gone and left flowers on my pillow, I would lock myself inside the house and install alarms asap. And he is 'an impatient lover', which is something June finds very attractive, but that together with his stalkerish stroke and his lack of sentences, makes him look a bit like a psycho.
There was nothing quite so sensual as impatience, nothing so titillating as a man with a weak grasp on self-control, as a lover just dying to posses.
That sentence has the honor of being the first in my newly created collection of awkward romance quotes.

Verdict: I should have kept on reading the Virgin River series.

5 comentarios:

  1. haha. I'm sorry, but it's quotes like those that keep me away from romance novels. :)

    1. To be honest, it's the first time I've found a quote like that one. Let's check again when the challenge ends, but I'm positive my list of awkward quotes isn't going to grow that much.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that this wasn't as good as your first book by this author! I also prefer to read series in order and am planning on starting at the beginning of a series by the author whose book I've enjoyed the most this month. Even though a lot of my preconceptions about romance have been proven wrong, I do feel as though some romances expect us to accept stalkerish behavior or even sexual assault because we know that the main characters like each other and are going to end up together.

    1. I've found that attitude in YA, too, and it's something that bothers me A LOT. Stalking and possessiveness are never romantic traits - they are scary! You could argue that both traits play a role in some romantic/sexual fantasies for many people, but if they are attractive is because we know they are not real and don't expect them to become true.

      I do find their prevalence in literature quite disturbing. Why should we downplay their danger when there are a million other traits that could also bring excitement to a budding romance? They make some of this novels feel same-y, and at worst they send a very awful message.

      Back to the book in question: if you decide to give a try to Robyn Carr, forget this trilogy and start with the Virgin River series. The story in the Grace Valley trilogy is not really necessary to understand the events from Virgin River, and I do think Carr is wonderful at writing believable romance in contemporary situations.

    2. So true! I'm even more bothered by downplaying of stalkerish behavior in YA. I feel young adults are probably slightly less equipped to realize that the behavior being described is far beyond what's normal.