Title: Delicious, Not Quite a Husband
Author: Sherry Thomas
Publisher: Bantam Books (2008, 2009)
Just a warning here, folks, if you're a fan of these this might not be a post you're interested in.
I first picked up Delicious because of all the positive chatty associated with Sherry Thomas and I thought the book was just ok. I certainly did not understand why everyone was raving but I thought maybe it was just that this one didn't quite catch my interest so I decided to try another. Bad decision.
In Delicious Verity Durant is the creme de la creme when it comes to cooking up the good stuff. She could work anywhere but she stays on the estate owned by her ex-lover. She's fairly infamous for being the cook he had a relationship with but she stays on cooking for him and his lovers of the month. When he dies unexpectedly and his brother, Stuart Somerset, inherits, Verity realizes hiding her secret will be impossible and decides to move on. When the sparks start to fly between her and Stuart she finds it harder and harder to leave.
I'm not a foodie but I was charmed with the magical satisfaction diners obtained from Verity's meals just as I was in that 90s movie, Simply Irresistible. I also liked the well-done back stories for all the characters. It was clear how current actions were informed by past experiences and definite priorities. I was really impressed with Michael's character as he was featured so few times yet came across quite vividly. Verity annoyed me a bit in her "I really am leaving in about five minutes but while I'm here I'm going to be deliberately enticing and torture Stuart and myself with what I've decided we can't have." So her thinking was correct in that they didn't make a good match for his life goals but her inability to follow through when, in every other way, she was very staunch in her decision making was irritating. I guess that's the crux of the story, can't stay away and all, but it just didn't wash with me. I also thought the ending was too easy. All this, "no, no, no we can't" and such a big deal made of everything but here we are at the end of our page count so let's get out our bows and tidy everything up. Ugh! just too easy. And wtf was up with Verity getting behind that screen? Can you say privacy violation? She really did not strike me as a person who would eavesdrop. I mean, I know she's got to hear the big speech and all, but really, that was just too easy and too lazy. So, solid potential but a few pitfalls along the way. This is what led me to pick up Not Quite a Husband so as to give Thomas another try.
side note before I move on: The courtship of the side characters (Marsden and Bessler) was just freaking weird. Their interactions, especially in the beginning, gave me the heebie jeebies. Anyone else have a different take on the two of them? In the end, I decided it was worth it for the "symphonic concerts" and "music halls." hehehehehe
In Not Quite a Husband Bryony and Leo were a surprise match. Bryony, an obsessed medical practitioner when it was not the thing for women to work, and Leo, handsome, cavalier, sought-after, would not ever have been paired by society but marry they did. It ended in an annulment and now Bryony is half a world away working. Leo is sent to fetch her back for her family. I was immediately sucked in by this storyline. I luuuuurved the idea of not quite getting it right the first time and trying again a few year later, older and wiser. Yummy! Again, back stories started to develop nicely and I was gearing up for good times. Then, horrors!, really inappropriate sexual scenes reared their ugly heads.
Dubiousness set in when Sickness forced a situation of intimacy but, whatev, what is romance without some tropes? And, not a big surprise, they got into a bit of the humpty hump. We're still ok here, people - nothing particularly innovative but the story is still intriguing me and everyone is acting in character and with free will intact. Bryony asks not to speak of the first "indiscretion" again and even goes so far as to rebuff Leo's advances later. Then when he's almost entirely better and slumbering peacefully she starts taking liberties with his person. I wanted to throw the book across the room. You've already been all "keep your hands to yourself, pardner" and now he's asleep and you're going to take advantage??? ASLEEP!!!!!! Fucking asleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you say inappropriate????!!!!!!!!!!!????????? Non-consenting sex is ew! One must be awake to consent! And even if you know someone does actually want to do the Deed with you s/he still needs to be awake! Holy damn! This reminds me of when I had to read that piece of trash Water for Elephants years ago and was flabbergasted when the guy was raped and no one ever commented on it and my book club members didn't even notice! Wha?????????????? I very politely asked my fellow members how they would have responded to the scene if the guy had been a gal and the same things had happened. I swear I actually saw the light bulbs appear atop their heads. But anyway, let's not get me started on Water for Elephants. Let's get back to the inappropriate on display here...
These types of dodgy encounters just irritate the shit out of me. I find they are too often glossed over PERIOD but especially when men are on the receiving end. I like romance novels because they are positive depictions of emotional and sexual relationships not because people are so overwhelmed by their burning loins that they can't be bothered to wake a person up! Grrr! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
So, anyway, as you can imagine nothing could redeem this story me for after that. It was just too irksome. Again, this book had so much potential and then even bigger pitfalls than Delicious. There was more I didn't like but I'm all irritated again and would rather go focus on something I do like rather than something that makes me angry.
Delicious 3 of 5 stars
Not Quite a Husband 1 of 5 stars