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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Against the Paw
Diane Kelly
Progress: 194/352 pages
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World
Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library
Progress: 67/473 minutes
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
Progress: 448/553 pages
The Naked Sun
Isaac Asimov
Progress: 20/187 pages
Fluency
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Italian's Ruthless Marriage Command - Helen Bianchin I was a little bit wary of this book, because of the word "ruthless" in the title. Sorry, but the title doesn't sound very romantic. Still, good romance novels sometimes have very bad titles, so I decided to give this one a shot. For such a skinny book, it took me forever to get through - I just couldn't settle down and enjoy it.First, I didn't really like the writing. I can't quite say what it was about Bianchin's writing that put me off, but there were areas that felt like they could have been better worded or just cut out altogether. I kept getting the urge to mark annoying passages, an urge that made it hard to get into the story and try to like the characters. For instance, here's a quote from page 135: "Sex, she viewed logically, then qualified...very good sex, was one of nature's aphrodisiacs." An aphrodisiac is something that increases sexual desire, so Taylor is basically thinking here that sex is one of nature's ways of increasing sexual desire. Was this sentence really necessary? Or was it maybe meant to show that sex decreased Taylor's brain cells, making her think stupid things?Second, I disliked Dante - it's never a good thing when I'm reading a romance novel and don't like the hero. It wasn't until after Taylor and Dante were married that I was able to think of Dante as more than just an overbearing jerk - he saw how much his presence upset Taylor at times, did he really have skulk around her so much? The only reason I didn't think of him as a total monster was because he didn't force himself on her, at least not with sex, although he did kiss her without it being truly clear that she wanted and was ready for him to kiss her.I should be fair, though: I didn't really like Taylor, either. I don't know what it was like for Ben, living with her, but to me she seemed moody, damaged, and capable of sucking the fun and life out of everything. Although I understood why she was like that, what with the recent death of people she cared about and the attack she survived (which I initially thought involved rape), understanding didn't translate into liking. After a while, I had enough of her frightened/cornered animal reaction to Dante and her insistence that only she knew what was truly right for Ben.I never really ended up liking Taylor, although I tended to dislike Dante more than I disliked her - I just couldn't stand how overbearing he behaved around her. Their marriage, the joining of two characters I didn't really like, wasn't much fun either. While Taylor and Dante are on their honeymoon, doing a little shopping, Taylor refuses to let Dante pay for things she wants to buy (even though there's not a peep out of her when he pays for their room, their room service, and their food). Dante's thoughts on this: "Any other woman of his acquaintance would expect him to pick up the tab for anything that took her whim...most often angle prettily for an expensive item" (p. 137). I found Taylor's spotty adherence to her "I'll pay for myself" rule somewhat annoying, but I really hated this thought of Dante's, because I felt it showed that he still thought of Taylor in the same way as all the arm candy he used to date and sleep with.Supposedly, Taylor grows more comfortable with Dante, and this is apparently exemplified in her reaction to seeing her attacker again. All Taylor knew was that Dante...did something to or with the guy - she didn't know if he just talked to him, or if he beat him up. And yet, she feels safe, because Dante makes her feel safe. Even though he spent a good chunk of the book skulking around her and frightening her. Right.Overall, there was just too much "too little" going on - too little of the book was from Dante's perspective, making it even harder to like him and connect with him emotionally than it already was. What little of the book was from Dante's perspective was too shallow, making him seem like a flatter, less fleshed out character than Taylor. The whole thing with "Dante's many former lovers" could have been fun, but, since it was so brief and formulaic, it just came across as cliched. Even if Bianchin had done that part better, it would probably have been too little, too late.I felt that the book got a bit better as it progressed, but that, unfortunately, isn't saying much. This is not going on my "keeper" pile.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)