Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Photographers: A Review of The Look of Love by Bella Andre

Sometimes a reader, especially a romance reader, finds herself wanting something...silly. Pointless. Something full of cheese and so sugary sweet it's almost unbearable. I wanted the book equivalent of cheesecake. So I went looking and found The Look of Love and thought, what the heck, I'll put this on the March reading list.

I got what I wanted.

Let's take a look at the plot, using the Romance Cliche Counter.

Chase Sullivan comes from a huge family of siblings, who are all of marrying age but not married (1), and who all have interesting jobs like vineyard owner and photographer (2). Choe, on the other hand, was an only child who has always felt alone and longed to be part of something bigger (3). She's recently escaped an abusive relationship (4), only to have to flee into the night when the abusive ex returns. She crashes her car and Chase rescues her (5). Because he wants to help her, he makes the irrational call of coercing her to stay with him (6) at his brothers guest house until she sorts out her life. The two fall in lust instantly (7) and love not long after (8). Chloe wants to insist on a friends with benefits fling, while Chase wants more (9). Chloe helps Chase with his photo shoot and in doing so gains new purpose and self confidence (10). They have lots of steamy sex (11). Eventually the ex pops back into the picture, and...I think you can guess where this is going.

Positive Comments

There's nothing inherently wrong with using cliches in this type of book. It's almost expected, and honestly certain cliches and tropes are things that I seek out and hope to find in all of my romance novels--#11 being an important one. I knew what I was getting into with this book, I saw the cliches coming, and I was able to immerse myself in the story anyway. That's the sign of a good, or at least passable author.

And #11 was so very, very well done. I didn't expect this book to have that going for it, based on the cover and title, but it's chalk full of hotness.

There's no point in pretending that I don't like to read about heroes with interesting jobs. That's part of the fun of contemporary romance for me. And even though I wonder why there are so many gorgeous firefighters and business men and so few, I don't know, evolutionary geneticists in romanceland, it's nice to escape to those different lives. I like the details about Chase's photo shoot, and the fact that it takes place on a vineyard in California.

I liked that Chloe wasn't a complete melted blob of insecurity. I really, really hate seeing heroines pull the melted blob routine. I got worried when the pencil thin models for Chase's photo shoot were introduced, after we'd been told that Chloe is more curvy. I thought "Oh God, she's about to worry over her weight and how Chase sees her, and she'll start eating nothing but watercress and eventually Chase will have to prove to her that he finds her attractive...probably through sex." That's one cliche I can't stand. But it doesn't happen! Chloe looks and the models, looks at herself, has a tiny moment of "I suck" and then shrugs it off. She has an ass and she's just going to live with it. Thank you. I really like Chloe overall--she's spirited and fun and not predictable.

Critical Comments

The pacing is just way the hell off. The instant attraction thing is fine. But the lightning speed at which the emotional relationship progresses damages what little believability a book like this has. Chase goes from single and fine with it to "I will marry this woman and make adorable babies with her!" in under a week. It's hard to even get to know a person in that sparse amount of time, let alone for strong emotional ties, let alone decide that they should be your spouse. The relationship building is sloppy and rushed.

This book is not grounded in anything remotely close to reality. The pace is too fast, the characters make decisions that no one in their position would make, their reactions are unrealistic (but plot convenient), and their personalities and world views are far too clean cut and straight forward. It's contrived and full of wish fulfillment.


If, like me, you want something silly on occasion, and you like contemporary romance, give this one a shot. 3 stars.

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