Friday, March 22, 2013

On Strawberry Fluff: A Review of Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

Kiss of Pride (Deadly Angels, #1) Today for your reading delight, I have this...well, it's meant to be a romance novel, I think. I bought this when it was $0.99, thinking that it would make for light-hearted amusement some day. And then I got into this reading funk, and I sort of realized that I wasn't going to become fully immersed in anything, no matter how awesome, so why not choose something shallow?

The book jumps right into the back story, so I'll start there. Prepare yourself for some silly-ass world building. Vikar and his merry band of brothers were all vikings, and that made them pagans, and so God wanted to wipe them out. The archangel Michael pleads their case, and they end up as vampire/angels in training instead, doing penance until they make up for their sins (there are seven brothers, seven sins, DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?). Vikar's sin is pride. Anyway, they've been time jumping for awhile (for some reason), but now they've settled in present day Pennsylvania, in a town that subsequently becomes a vampire themed tourist trap.

Alex is a jaded reporter with a tragic past--her daughter and husband were murdered. She wants nothing more to take revenge, but her plans are interrupted when she's put on an assignment to interview Vikar. Almost immediately after arriving in Transylvania Pennsylvania, she is bitten by the resident bad vampires--they're called lucipires, and they work for the devil. Consequently, the hero has to start cleansing her of the inherent badness that lucipires spread, and he does said cleansing through a lot of sucking, which is even less sexy than it sounds.

I assumed from the start that I wasn't meant to take this book seriously, and that it would be more of a light PNR. But at times, a serious fact or moment would be thrown in there, and I got the impression that I was supposed to become invested, that I was supposed to find the romance in the midst of the ridiculous. Instead, the whole book is just awkward. The tone is way off, like the author has no idea how to balance horror, sex, and humor. Kresley Cole is the queen of that balance. Gena Showalter is not bad either. J.R. Ward has some seriously awkward bullshit in her stories, but the tone is still mostly cohesive. This book? This book is a mess. The author wants to be funny, but she doesn't understand how to be--she thinks that referencing Twilight and Micheal Jackson and all of the other pop culture things she knows about will make it funny, but all of those jokes are just flat and annoying. Then she wants to be serious, she wants us to feel sad or concerned for Alex, or to find Vikar sexy, or to get caught up in their relationship, but she ends up being hilarious by accident with her awful world building and purple language. You end up laughing at the author and not with the author, laughing at all of the wrong things.

Even if the world building were not unforgivably silly, it would still be terribly unoriginal. I'm entirely sick of seven deadly sins books. If you're going to use Christian/biblical mythology, pick something that hasn't been done nine million times already. Don't get me wrong--angels and demons make interesting characters, but you have to have a good feel for how to write them and how to make them seem both real and different (the same principle applies to vampires0. Hill doesn't seem to know what to do with the mythology, and she doesn't want to bother digging up some fresh and new concepts from it, so she's deriving everything from other PNRs in a way that's too obvious and too sloppy for a traditionally published author.

The Christain nature of our vangels is then used as the main obstacle keeping the hero and heroine from getting their freak on, and is the reason they decide to have lots of near sex. It's only a real sin if there's actual penetration, apparently. You know who thinks like that? Teenagers. Stupid, horny teenagers who believe that celibacy through technicality is just as good as actual self-restraint. Seeing adults rationalize in the same way is just plain stupid --either sexual acts are a sin, or they aren't. Whatever you believe is fine, but don't try to have the cake and eat it too--you're just being hypocritical.

Delicious, and versatile.
The sex (or almost sex) scenes in themselves are the most unintentionally hilarious things I have ever seen in a modern romance novel. At one point, the heroine thinks she sees a halo around the hero's dick. She pronounces it "cute", and the sex continues. Yeah. Later, the author treats us to the silliest purple terms she could think of--including, but not limited to "woman channel", "woman dew", and my personal favorite "strawberry fluff" (which described the heroine's pubic hair). When the strawberry fluff came into play, I had a small and not altogether quiet break with reality where I collapsed in a fit of giggles. In my world fluff is a marshmallow topping you put on peanut butter sandwiches--so you can imagine what my mind cooked up in the context of the sex scene. Sorry, NEAR sex scene.

When I finally finished this book, it was with the feeling of relief that comes with being fairly certain that you've hit rock bottom. I have found the worst of the books, there is nothing more awful, and anything else will be fantastic by comparison because I have lived through lucipires and strawberry fluff. Do I recommend this book? Well, I don't know, it did make me laugh. Not at the right moment, and not in the way it meant to, but by God did I laugh. So, yeah, if you have a good strong bullshit shield and you like "so bad it's good" books, maybe. Overall, though, it's probably not worth it. 1.5 stars

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