"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Monday, July 25, 2016

Review #25: The Sweet Spot, by Stephanie Evanovich

I remembered reading another of Stephanie Evanovich's books (Big Girl Panties) awhile ago, but didn't remember too much about it, other than it was kind of a serviceable romance, and I needed something to listen to on my commute, so I downloaded The Sweet Spot from the library's website. 

And then I remembered that I didn't much like Big Girl Panties.

And then I remembered why.

The Sweet Spot was written after Big Girl Panties, but is set a couple of years before it, chronicling the story of a baseball player named Chase, and Amanda, the woman he's set his sights on. Amanda is a buttoned-up young restaurateur - she owns the hottest place in town - and Chase spots her while at dinner with his agent one night. Amanda intrigues him, but she's not interested, and so he sets about chasing after her.

Chase is a little bit stalker-y, but that's a common theme in a lot of romance (why, I have no idea, but it is), and Amanda eventually caves because she secretly loves him. And all is well for a little while, until the night that they're alone in a hallway at the baseball stadium and Chase is caught on security video spanking Amanda, which of course, hits the national news. Humiliated, certain she'll be responsible for the death of his career, Amanda takes off and disappears to the beach to hide, befriending an older woman, and takes the time to figure herself out. Spoiler alert (not): they end up together and live happily ever after, making an appearance in Big Girl Panties, which, to be honest, I'd completely forgotten about until I went to find my review to link back to it.

So why didn't I like The Sweet Spot? It seems like a pretty normal contemporary romance. Except it's not. Or at least, it's not in the way I'd want my daughter (when she's older than 12, thankyouverymuch) to read. This is the second book of Evanovich's that I have read, and in both, her characters are overweight. It's never really fully discussed, other than to say that they are "curvy" or "plump" or "have a lot of booty" (probably it doesn't actually say it that way, but you get the drift). All of which is fine - nice, even, to read about women who are perhaps a little bit closer to my body type than, say, Cindy Crawford's. But it was the way Evanovich went about it. There was a very much a message that Chase liked Amanda despite her curvy bottom or her ample bosom, that he was able to look past it. Chase, as a baseball player, was described as pretty much physically god-like, and wasn't Amanda lucky that he was able to see past her "flaws" to the real her? That didn't sit well with me, because the underlying message is that Amanda wasn't quite good enough for him, and that was the same message that I got from her other book.

Additionally, I think if you're going to introduce spanking (and all its related things) to a relationship, you should, you know, have a conversation about it beforehand. Sure, it's a bit awkward, but I think it's probably a lot less awkward than getting your relatively conservative new girlfriend to finally talk dirty in bed after she's expressly told you that it makes her uncomfortable and then pick her up, put her over your knee, proceed to spank her until she cries, and then have sex with her. Which is an actual thing that happened. That's...that's not how that works. And while we're on the subject, if you do royally screw up and do that, then your immediate reaction should most definitely not be to leave and then be upset when she doesn't understand.

Also? The more I think about it, even unrelated to the whole horrible introduction to spanking thing, Chase was a jerk. And I'm way too worked up about how much I dislike a guy in a romance novel, which just makes me more worked up.

To keep the baseball theme going, this was absolutely not a home run. 

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