Men Reading Romance

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  Men Reading Romance by Jean & Paul Mason
------------------------------------------------ Yes, readers, all your emails did the trick! Jean was able to convince Paul to read another romance!

Jean says (by way of explanation):

Last Saturday a new package of books to review arrived which included Stella Cameronís latest release, More and More. At dinner that night, there was a long discussion of Cameronís books. (Yes, I know, most of you probably donít discuss romance novels at dinner, but when you get two avid fans and one author of the same together, the talk inevitably turns to our addiction and the husbands just have to grin and bear it.)

Having never really read Cameron, I asked my friends what they thought of her books. Their comments so intrigued Paul that he decided it was time to read another romance. In fact, he read the book before I did. What follows is a report on his (and my) response to More and More. But first a bit about the book.

More and More is set in London in 1820, specifically at numbers 7 and 8 Mayfair Square. The former has been turned into a high class lodging house, much to the distress of its builder. He decides to rid the house of these interlopers and decides to begin with Finch and Latimer More, a sister and brother, who have rooms on the first floor. Sir Septimus decides that the Mores relationship with the next door neighbor, Ross, Viscount Kilrood will serve his purpose in removing the couple from the premises.

Finch and Latimer run a fledgling antiquities business and Kilrood is their best customer. But Kilrood is not merely a collector of antiques; he is involved in dangerous doings, doings which involve the Mores and endanger both of them. When Finch is attacked, Kilrood tries to determine whether his purposes have been discovered. This brings this most unusual woman to his attention, and what attention! Finch is not like any of the women he has ďadmiredĒ in the past. She is older (29), slim rather than voluptuous, red haired and freckled. Yet there is something in her spirit that attracts the viscount and he is not slow to respond and act on his attraction.

The relationship between Finch and Kilrood is played out against a backdrop of danger and skullduggery that has something to do with the antiquities which he is importing into England. His involvement leads to Latimerís kidnapping and Finch must turn to Kilrood to save her brother.

Paul and I had a number of lengthy discussions about More and More. (Well, it was more fun than discussing Kosovo!) and I will try to distill the essence of our conclusions.

The Plot

Jean: I found the plot incredibly implausible and not very easy to follow. First, you have the ghost who is trying to rid 7 Mayfair Square of the lodgers.....

Paul: A ghost? I didnít realize there was a ghost! I just thought all those passages in italics were the the author trying to be clever.

Jean: Didnít you understand that Sir Septimus was a ghost?

Paul: No, I missed that, but then I was confused by many of the characters. I didnít think they were very well drawn. I had a hard time keeping track of them all.

Jean: Well, what did you think of the antics of the other inhabitants of 7 Mayfair Square and their attempts to interfere between Finch and Ross?

Paul: It didnít bother me much. This kind of thing is very common in lots of comic and suspense stories.

Jean: To continue my point about the plot, I really didnít understand why Ross was doing what he was doing and who was trying to help him and who was trying to interfere, and by the end, I was pretty lost.

Paul: Me too. In fact, I found the story very hard to follow.

The Heroine

Paul: I liked the heroine. I thought the author succeeded in creating a woman who was competent, brave, and who delighted in her discovery - here I am paraphrasing the author - of her carnal nature. I did think that maybe this happened a little too suddenly. But, thereís no doubt about it. Stella Cameron can write good erotic scenes.

Jean: Thatís for sure. Still, to tell you the truth, I found some of Finchís behavior verging on ďtoo stupid to live.Ē I mean, Ross kept telling her that the people who had kidnapped Latimer were really dangerous, but she kept insisting that she had to go along to save her brother, even though she wasnít quite sure what she was going to do.

Paul: But thatís not unusual in stories like this. Donít you remember the end of Poltergeist when, as soon as the child is rescued from a demon, the mother remains in a haunted house, leaves the kid alone in his room and takes a bubble bath? If I may enter a thought here, it seems to me that in popular writing or movies, you can usually count on people to do stupid things.

Jean: I donít care how ďconventionalĒ this kind of behavior is, I donít like it in my heroines. Just my personal taste, I guess.

The Hero

Jean: I thought the hero was kind of interesting. He was something of a 19th century James Bond who took on dangerous missions for the good guys. Of course, the fact that he had loved and lost and had lost his belief in true love was somewhat commonplace. Still, his puzzled surprise about his reaction to the unusual Finch was nicely done.

Paul: I agree. Though even in a book which is clearly erotic, I did find some of the behavior of the protagonists a little hard to believe. Do you remember the part where Finch is really upset that Kilrood has involved her and her brother in some plot without even bothering to tell them about it? It is a little hard to believe that his only response, which she seems to accept without further ado, was to feel her up.

The Relationship

Paul: Something about the book really bothered me.

Jean: What was that?

Paul: Well, the predominant relationship between Finch and Ross in the first half of the book is unremittingly sexual. All of a sudden, that just totally disappeared.

Jean: I agree. Cameron sure knows how to build sexual tension. That scene on the table was pretty hot. But I was really startled that she closed the door when the consummation finally came. After all the erotic ďforeplayĒ (although foreplay is a mild description of what happened between the two), I really expected fireworks when they finally went all the way. Instead, nothing. It didnít make sense to me, given what went before.

Paul: Yeah, it was just reported as a matter of fact.

Jean: The whole concluding section of the book seemed to be a rapid and not very satisfactory and convincing tying up of all the strands of the story.

Paul: Yeah, I agree with that. And something else is strange too. Remember how Finch says something to the effect that she and Ross will be spending the rest of their lives with their best friend? Does it strike you as strangely as it does me that, given the initial nature of their relationship, that there isnít even a suggestion of lots of . . . fun? I mean, not even a wink.

And in Conclusion?

Jean: So what do you think?

Paul: Well, to repeat myself, Stella Cameron can write really good erotic scenes - and I donít mean this disparagingly. But that to one side, I guess Iíd have to say that overall, this is the least satisfactory of the romances you have gotten me to read. Whatever one thinks of Connie Masonís Sheik, it was not hard to follow the story. And Amanda Quickís With This Ring combined charm and wry humor which I enjoyed.

Jean: Good heavens! I agree with my husband! I didnít find More and More particularly satisfactory either.

Note from Jean: Just to demonstrate that great love scenes can be part of a well told story and a well developed relationship, I gave him Robbís Naked in Death to read. I donít know what he thought about the love scenes, but he did say to me, ďThat woman can write.Ē Glory in Death next!

Readers, this is an experimental column. Please tell us what you think. Would you like to see more men reviewing romance?


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