My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Oh my god…
Do you ever have one of those experiences with a book where you binge-read it, put it down for a bit, pick it up again, and it’s totally different? This happened to me twice recently and with two completely different reactions.
Over the winter I read most of Louise Penny’s Still Life and really didn’t like it. I just didn’t understand the hype. But then last month I was trying to wrap up some half-finished books to up my count for my annual goal and I finished the story late one night. It was so much better than I remembered it being! I’m totally happy I finished it.
Tonight, however, I had a completely different experience with Lisa Kleypas’ Again the Magic. I love Kleypas–she’s the best, and I would read just about anything by her. I’m trying to read off my shelves of books I already own, and last weekend I chose Again the Magic at random. I fell in love with the story and read about 70 or so pages a day until yesterday, when I put it down until I picked it up again today. And it was completely different. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I suddenly saw all the flaws, among them:
1. Conflict just to have conflict. I still don’t get why Aline was such a wishy-washy bitch to McKenna. Why? Why!? The conflict to keep them apart was contrived, especially when they [Spoiler] shared a passionate encounter anyway[/Spoiler]. If there’s one thing I absolutely cannot stand it’s angst just for the sake of having angst.
2. Two too many romance plotlines. Kleypas has no problem with writing series featuring interrelated characters, and in fact this novel is a tangentially related Wallflowers novel. I love the Wallflowers. They’re really great overall, so why cram two storylines into one novel? Is it because Kleypas suspected or knew that the conflict and flimsy storyline for the primary couple was a) uninteresting b) shallow c) void of purpose beyond a quickie? I don’t really care for stories where two or more couples get a HEA. It’s a little too much confidence for me, that oh in the end everyone pairs up and lives happily ever after. Like Love Actually. I just don’t buy it. It’s a problem I have time and time again with Jill Mansell. Focus on one couple per story. If it’s any good it can stand on its own.
3. Some of the dialogue was just ridiculous and over the top. The “blink if it’s a yes”–wtf!? Oh my god, kill me now. I thought no writer would actually use that device, especially not one as talented as Lisa Kleypas. She knows how to write a sex scene, by god, and she knows how to write amazing flirtatious dialogue that makes you grin like an idiot when you read it…but oh lord was this an obstacle for this novel.
Grr. I’m pissed but what are you going to do? I don’t regret the time spent reading the book, because I did enjoy the witty banter. Oh, and I pictured Kit Harington aka JON SNOW as McKenna, so that was a nice mental picture to keep in my mind.
Otherwise, this was an underwhelming and disappointing reading experience. I guess I have 391 more pages and 1 more book added to my annual reading challenge, but it was a painful process full of many aggravating moments. Kleypas is so much better than this, and this novel is one I would strongly recommend skipping.