Author :Andrea Hurst
My readers who are really on the ball will know I posted an extract for the Always With You book tour about a month ago. My review was not quite the material you’re supposed to put in the promo tour, but now the tour is over I’d like to share my thoughts:
Always With You is 320 pages long, a very reasonable length for a book, plenty of room for things to happen, develop, resolve. But, bar the romance aspect of the book, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing, unless you count washing vegetables, which I don’t. I assumed being set very specifically in 1977 there would be some reason for it, but no, we’re just informed what time appropriate song is on any time someone turns on the radio, and get to listen to one thrilling conversation about the progression of the wine country in 1977. So for those of you looking for more depth to your reads I suggest you move along.
But when we pick up a Romance book, we’re looking for Romance, so let’s take a look at what we need for that:
First we need a main character who we can all get behind. Bit of a stumbling block here Cathy is the most righteous Mary Sue I have ever read. The blurb is pretty clear that the Romance is between her and a married man, something that wouldn’t bother me as much if she could just be honest with herself about who she is and what she’s doing. All she does is whine about how it’s wrong, but how she can’t help be drawn to the kindness in his heart, how she can’t help it because their love spans ‘infinity’. For goodness sake, you are a grown woman; take some responsibility for your actions. She even has the gall to have an internal monologue lamenting how her love interest’s wife should be ashamed because she once cheated when they were in school. People who live in glass houses, Cathy dear, but if you really want to be a stickler for it what you’re doing is much worse.
Second we’re going to need a love interest who we’re all going to fall in love with, ah, we appear to have hit another stumbling block. Jamie, the man who is so honorable and kind. You’ll excuse me if I’m not convinced by these qualities when all I see of him is him cheating on his wife, being nice to his daughter and meaningfully chopping lots of vegetables. I would not consider being nice to your own child to be proof that you are the worlds kindest person, most people are nice to their own children. Although I say that; if you took the cast of this book you’d think child abuse was a standard.
For those of you who’ve read my other reviews you will know this is a particular hate of mine, the use of child abuse to garner pity or excuse action or contrivedly create drama. Always With You doesn’t let us down here, we have one character abandoned, one abused and another in the process of being abused. I remember that part of the book vividly as this child’s abuse gave Jamie a chance to get righteous about fixing it. Cathy tells him they can’t do anything, as there is no proof. Uh – that’s not how child abuse works. Then they forget about it for the rest of the book until the end, where the problem is fixed in a sentence.
So let’s look at the final thing we need for a good Romance; pace, drama, excitement. Well, as I’ve already established pace and excitement took a serious back seat in favor of never ending paragraphs full of words that think they’re a lot cleverer than they are. Let’s talk about Drama, the closest we come is the drama between Jamie’s wife, Pam, and Cathy, who were friends in school, but I can’t call this drama as, to me, their conversations made absolutely no sense. They just said horrible things to each other, often about things that happened over a decade ago, and switch schizophrenically between what’s happening now and what happened then. Pam actually had legitimate grievances but I couldn’t understand what she was actually trying to make a point out of. There’s also a bit of Drama made of Cathy’s past, but again, this is presented too badly, full of vague references to the big bad child abuse, so even if we ignore the fact it’s a drama that happened years ago I find it hard to care.
By itself Always With You is merely tired, add Cathy, the world’s biggest and most illogical whiner (with perfect auburn hair and tanned skin, as we are constantly reminded) and you will find yourself with the world’s biggest headache.