Friday, March 21, 2014

Pink Slips and Glass Slippers - J. P. Hansen

Pink Slips and Glass SlippersThe more that I read free e-books, the more I realize why they're free.  While I've discovered some truly amazing (Intisar Khanani's Thorn was free when I got it, and was breathtaking) most of them just fall flat.  Pink Slips and Glass Slippers is no exception.

The plot revolves around Brooke Hart and Chase Allman, who both work at a pharmaceutical company called Pharmical.  Brooke is the vice president of what's essentially a customer support division, and Chase is CEO.  Brooke goes gaga over Chase at first sight, and he does the same for her.  After a bout of drunken sex at a hotel each is staying at--separately; Brooke for a wedding and Chase for a charity event--Brooke gets fired and the relationship-that-could've been goes up in smoke.  Meanwhile, Chase tries to deal with his missing, drug addict wife while raising a three-year-old son.

Overall, the plot, or shall I say plots, dragged.  They dragged on and on and on.  Not to mention that there was little no relation between them.  Hansen felt the need to info-dump every single detail about every single character, no matter how minor, and every single setting, no matter how superfluous.  For example, I don't need to know every detail about the North Carolina research triangle.  I don't need to know every single song every character listens to in the car.  I don't need to know the makes, models, and colors of the cars all of the characters drive.  These details don't build atmosphere, and they don't advance the plot.  Rather, they slow the narrative down with their unnecessary weight and left me nodding off when I should have been absorbed in a romance narrative.

That said, this is billed as a romance, and it's really not.  The romance is minimal.  The bulk of the book is Chase raising his son and Brooke trying to get her shit together, each of which could have been a compelling plot in a "literature" book, but not smashed together with a romance and ultimately kidnapping plot.

Hansen also doesn't have a very good grip on his characters.  First off, he apparently has no idea how old his female lead is.  He never explicitly states her age, which is fine, but his implications are all over the place.  Upon Chase's first appearance, Brooke knows he is forty-one, "yet he appeared her age--quite young to be running a multi-national company."  This sentence seems to imply that Brooke is a good deal younger than Chase is.  Yet later, when Brooke sees Chase with Oksana, who is twenty-six, Brooke is apparently old enough to be Oksana's mother.  Next, Chase is apparently a devoted father, but when his son is kidnapped he doesn't want to call the police because he's afraid of risking his job.  I'm sorry, but if you're a devoted parent and your child is kidnapped, you call the fucking police.  You don't go flying all over the country and having sex in the Cinderella Suite at Disney World while your kid is missing.  Almost all of the secondary characters are complete assholes, with little to no variety amongst them.  Another inconsistency, this time in plot: Brooke is "blackballed" from all the pharmaceutical companies in the area because she slept with Chase, but this happens before anyone else knows about it.  What?  How does that work out?  Did Chase's evil secretary travel back in time to deliver the news to everyone before she actually received it?  And another gap, this time in research: Disney World does not look or work anything like Hansen described it.  If you're going to make shit up, just use an imaginary location.  If you're going to use a real location, do your freaking research.

Also, the writing just isn't that good.  The transitions aren't smooth, but rather jump from one thing to another with no apparent connection between them.  The bulk of the book is all "tell" and no "show."  For example, when Hansen writes about Chase, he writes that "He had an alluring charisma, highlighted by piercing brown eyes with gold flecks."  What eyes are supposed to have to do with charisma, I don't know, but Chase never actually exhibits that supposed charisma.  In fact, he can't agree on anyone with anything, when a charismatic person would be able to persuade people to his side.  There is mixing metaphors.  There are an abundance of comma splices.  This reads much more like a very rough draft than a completed product.  A 336-page romance novel should take me a couple of hours to finish, if it's intriguing; this one took days.  And the weren't savory days, either.  Honestly, the only reason I finished the damn book is because I never leave books unfinished.

I have no idea why this book has so many five-star reviews and such a high rating on Goodreads.  My only thought is that the author got everyone he knows to rate it highly despite its overall poor quality.  I don't know that for a fact, of course, but it's been known to happen before, and I certainly wouldn't rule it out in a case like this.

1.5 stars out of 5.

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