Books I Read, Vol 41

Nov 25, 2017 | Blog, Books I Read

Two Stephanie Laurens with far too much importance, a not-amish not-midwife by Marie Starns Clark, and a friend-zoned stick-in-the-mud from Sabrina Jeffries.

 

 

 

 

Podcast Book: Amish Midwife

Author: Mindy Starns Clark

Series: Lancaster County #1

Tags: Amish, christian, adopted, family secrets, boy back home, love triangle

Format: audiobook

Rating: yuck.

 

Oh man, this book was awful.

 

Ilana and I had decided for our November book club podcast to go “Full Amish”. We had done a Space Vampire Amish book and it was AWFUL, and not really related to any of the Amish craze. So we chose this one.

And failed.

The book we read was the wrong Amish book.

Can you believe it? There is ANOTHER book called Amish Midwife out there. It sounds like a lighthearted, kitschy, saccharine sweet romance. An Amish midwife and an Amish dude have a marriage of convenience and fall in love. Dawww!

Doesn’t that sound cute? And much more Amish-y.

This book was about a kinda-not-really Mennonite midwife-nurse going to an Amish town to find out why she was given away by her biological family, who happen to be Amish.

 

She’s not Amish.

She doesn’t become Amish.

She doesn’t really like the Amish.

She doesn’t meet some cute Amish farmer and fall in love.

She doesn’t really have any love affair, really.

 

No bonnet ripping whatsoever.

 

I had this assumption going in that Amish Romances are popular because they are the Christian version of Regency: set in a world totally separate from the current world, a tiny microcosm of people not exposed to the disillusionment that comes with our jaded existence as modern humans. A fantasy world, so to speak. Just more palatable to a certain crowd because there isn’t any ripping of bodices.

These Amish had cellphones.

CELLPHONES, mind you.

UGH WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT.

 

The main character, Lexie, is a crazy person.

The cover is deceiving in that you think it’s about an Amish woman and a smiling baby, when it is actually about a crazy non-Amish woman stalking her presumed biological family. When she hears a whiff of a rumor that someone in this Amish community is biologically related to her, she hops on a plane from Oregon to Pennsylvania, and squats on her aunt’s property until her aunt gives her a job.

She’s there working as a midwife for, say, three-ish weeks? In that time, she stares creepily at houses from afar, sneaks onto property she was told to leave, encourages her aunt’s children to help her cause, goes through private medical files…SO CREEPY.

At one point, she learns that her father is a local English (non-Amish) person that passed away. His wife still lives in that town, so she actually DROVE PAST THE HOUSE MULTIPLE TIMES, DEBATING ON WHETHER TO GO IN.

Because she’s a crazy person.

 

Can you imagine that? This widow, who has no connection with Lexie other than the fact that her now dead husband cheated on her and produced Lexie almost had Lexie on her doorstep.

What do you say to that? “Long time no see”?

 

No one seems to have a grasp how law works, or also therapy.

One of my favorite lines from the book is,

“Do you think your mom is guilty of manslaughter?”

“Of course not. She would never hurt anyone.”

 

I mean, yeah, ON PURPOSE. Then it would be murder.

 

The aunt, Marta, a midwife, is being tried for manslaughter after her patient and the baby died during birth. So, thanks, Lexie for taking advantage of his highly stressful situation to further your own agenda of finding out the story behind your childhood. Marta has to hire Lexie because she isn’t allowed to work with her patients while on trial. Because Lexie is a crazy person, she doesn’t seem to charge anything for her services, so who could turn that down? Also she has to do is weather out Lexie’s nosey, constant badgering.

Marta, honey, it’s not fucking worth it.

98% of the book is Lexie saying, “tell me about my parents,” and Marta refusing to even say “no.”

 

I mean, how much of the story does Lexie need to hear? They are Amish. OBVIOUSLY she was born out of wedlock.

And how many times do you think Marta can say, “you are really stirring up trouble here” to Lexie before she realizes that Lexie doesn’t give a fuck?

100 billion gazillion is the answer.

 

98% is useless bickering, clumsy fact finding, conclusion leaping, and “you are stirring up trouble here”ing. The 2% is the utter bullshit that is the conclusion. Dues Ex ex-boyfriend shows up out of nowhere, and wouldn’t you know it? He’s studying to become a therapist.

He somehow is able to gather every family member in one room and host an “intervention.” Then, as if by magic, this repressed, tight-lipped Amish family lets an English guy tell them to spill the beans…and they do. One after another, the whole story of Lexie’s conception is laid out. They all feel better. Bridges are mended. Love that was lost is found. Closure seeps into Lexie’s bones. Sunshine and roses all the damn day.

 

I don’t think you know how therapy works, Clark.

 

The love triangle is actually Lexie learning to settle.

And let’s take a moment to talk about her ex-kind-of-current boyfriend. James lives in Oregon, was a bad boy in high school and found his faith later on. He has been courting her forever, and she just, kind of like, I don’t know, is okay with it, I guess?

Bad boy turned man of faith? High school crush turned into actual dating? Working his way through school to help people?

THAT is the story right there.

How in the hell was this glossed over in favor of this dumbass adoption plot?

 

I feel bad for the guy. He seems to be a perfect gentleman in every way. When Lexie goes on her quest to become of crazy person, they decide to “take a break,” which is such a weird concept in general.

Turns out that means she can date an atheist doctor.

 

Oh man, this doctor. What the FUCK is she doing with him? He is kind of a dick. He makes fun of the Amish and Mennonites to her, a midwife for Amish and Mennonites. He even discredits her work as a midwife. He was like “no offense” and her thought was “I understand.”

Really?? That whole thing you have decided your life to? You understand that this doctor, who doesn’t know you at all, looks down on your profession.

There is NO reason for her to hang out with this dude, other than to feel wanted while her boyfriend’s hundreds of miles away. Red flag straight off was that he seems to look down on religion, and religion is a part of her life. Hell to the no. And yet she gives him her number.

There’s this bullshit conflict that comes up, completely created by her own attention loving, wish washy mind. He wants her to move to Pittsburgh with him (why? they have only kissed once, have known each other for a couple weeks). SHE’S THINKING OF GOING. He’s pressuring her into becoming a doctor. SHE’S THINKING ABOUT IT.

At one point, she’s like, “I can’t believe I’m thinking of moving with him.”

Uh huh.

If a stranger that’s cute smiles at me, I have already fast forwarded to imagining growing old together, surrounded by a passle of adorable grandchildren.

It’s called imagination. It doesn’t mean that you are ACTUALLY considering it.

 

The only redeeming quality this doctor seemed to have was that his eyes “sparkled” and “danced” all the time. In fact, they did that so much, I was starting to worry that he had some eye twitch.

You only get one instance of sparkling and dancing eyes, and that’s if you’re Santa. Everyone else has muscle spasms.

“Midwives are undertrained. No offense,” he teased, his eyes dancing.

What the fuck?!

 

Eventually she goes back to James, because there never really was a choice, because it was all in her head, and there was no way she would actually seriously consider the doctor, much less know if the doctor seriously considered her (“hey, I have this weird friend that’s a midwife.” “he’s in love with me!”). Also James is supportive and stable and caring and helped Lexie with her whole adoption thing, so shouldn’t she show him how grateful she is, even though she doesn’t love him? It’s probably enough that he loves her, right?

 

Assumption #2 destroyed: I thought that Amish books would look upon Amish culture favorably…? She was pretty much “this religion is fucked” the entire time. I agree. Don’t go past an eighth grade education? Nooooo thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Study of Seduction

Author: Sabrina Jeffries

Series: Sinful Suitors #2

Tags: historical, Regency, stick-in-the-mud, automatons!, ptsd, sexual abuse

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

Okay, I’m getting the hang of Sabrina Jeffries now. I know enough of the characters to follow along. Bonus: she’s not writing about a not-really-a-rake this time!

Stick in the muds might be Jeffries’s forte. Aw, I liked him! What a sensible fellow Edwin is. He’s stodgy without being completely boring, an upstanding fellow. I like his and Clarissa’s catty relationship. They are always bantering and betting each other.

 

It’s a opposites attract story. Edwin (stick in the mud) and Clarissa (charismatic free spirit) have been family friends for ages, but it isn’t until a creepy suitor of Clarissa’s throws them apart. He marries her to keep her away from him (and not at all because he has had a crush on her for a long time). Turns out she has some sexual abuse in her past, and has a hard time trusting him. He’s really quite sweet and patient about it.

Good for you, Edwin!

 

I realized I had sisterly feelings toward him when he accepted a duel. A duel, Edwin?! Really?!

I was so disappointed in my nice, sensible, logical Earl friend doing something stupid like accepting a duel.

Shame on you!

 

Side note: I wonder how often I have platonic feelings towards these romance heroes. Other options include:

  • I don’t like him at all.
  • I can objectively appreciate him even if he isn’t for me.
  • I wish that we had a relationship where we could play video games together and high five every time we see each other.
  • I’d do him, like once. Then save his number under “Booty Call.”
  • I’m attracted to him, but respect the sanctity of marriage, as well as the sparking chemistry between the two, so I will settle for being the nonsexual partner to their relationship so I can giggle with glee from the sidelines.
  • GIVE. THAT. MAN. TO. ME. RIGHT. NOW. Rawrr.

 

 

The Perfect Lover

Author: Stephanie Laurens

Series: Cynster #10

Tags: historical, Regency, forthright female, murder mystery country party

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

 

OoOoh! Country party murder mystery.

If I ever got an invitation to a country party at a large estate with various, unknown characters as guests, I would be rub my hands together and say “Alright! Who’s gonna die?”

 

Spoiler alert: the hussy will.

 

Good thing my personal life is so banal. Sexual deviance is always an invitation to become the murder victim.

 

So, there’s a murder, and stuff. Meanwhile, our heroine has decided that she wants to have babies and get married. She sets out to find her husband. Unfortunately, he super hot childhood friend is hounding her to…I guess, marry him? Oh, what horror! I’m not sure why the problem wasn’t solved immediately.

Our heroine might be a little on the spectrum. She’s super smart, doesn’t understand social niceties, and kind of doesn’t understand other people. Bonus points for a smart heroine, though you don’t really see evidence of it throughout the novel.

Mostly, she’s just fiercely independent and wants to take things on her own terms (as much as a heroine in a Laurens novel can, which is not much). She comes up with this bullshit scheme of having the hero teach her “why women are so interested in this marriage thing.”

On with the sexy times!

They fool around a bunch, which assuages her independent spirit, though everyone else takes one look at them and thinks, “they are totally doing it.”

 

These Cynster boys are extremely attuned with their heroine counterparts. He knows the only way to have her is to let her (think she) have her own way. I can appreciate that, as stilted as it is in this form.

One of the most romantic parts is when he thinks to himself something to the effect,

“He knew that as much as he felt he needed to protect to her hide her from all bad things, the only way to win her was to give her her own space and let her make her decisions.”

Otherwise known as: I begrudgingly accept that you are a human with independent thoughts and inclinations, so I will try to keep my caveman-like behavior of knocking you over the head and hiding you in a cave to a minimum. Like, once a week. Conservatively.

 

Good for you, Cynster. Try not to kill anyone.

 

I may have liked this book a little bit better than other Laurens books because of the narrator. She had a very no-nonsense voice, so it may have added some no-nonsense-ness to the characters. Her narration was out of the ordinary. It felt like it was someone reading it to you, rather than an audiobook actor. She didn’t do any voices, the hero and heroine sounded pretty much the same, and most everything was in the same pace and monotone.

It was interesting, until we got to the sex scenes. I felt more than usually awkward about listening to them. An audiobook, you can trick yourself into thinking you are reading, but this was like if your sister was reading it aloud to you. No-thank-you.

 

Temptation and Surrender

Author: Stephanie Laurens

Series: Cynster #15

Tags: historical, Regency, buried treasure!, tavern owner

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

 

Ohhhh, here we go again.

Laurens, we may need a break.

You are too ridiculous.

 

Okay, so not great of characters, again, no surprise, but at least this time there were supporting characters that were mildly interesting. Our heroine moves to a small town to take over a tavern/inn and support her three younger siblings, BUT REALLY TO FIND SECRET BURIED TREASURE.

Yes, there is buried treasure in a sleepy town somewhere in England.

She knows a nursery rhyme passed down her family that cryptically tells a tale about her ancestors hiding spoils from war. She’s on a mission to find it so that she can support her family. That sounds as about as smart as using the lottery to plan your retirement.

 

She’s sneaking around in the fancy manors, making friends with weirdos to get books to read about the history. Meanwhile, our hero takes one look at her and says, “She’s so hot. I want to fuuuund our wedding to be married forever.”

 

90% of romance novels hinge upon the hope that the hero will leap immediately from “she’s hot” to “marriage” in the space of a moment.

I mean, that’s kind of fucked up, right?

An industry made for women by women, and most of the stories have plot lines that rely heavily on the man choosing, out of the 99 different ways to have a relationship, marriage first, foremost, and forever.

HRM.

I’m developing a theory right now, but it’s in its baby stages, so stay tuned.

 

Anyway, while he’s playing house, she’s Goonies-ing it up, wandering around trying to be sneaky, though everyone fucking knows she’s up to something.

Jonas, the hero, also happens to be psychic. He interprets every expression on her face with startling accuracy.

 

Laurens’ story telling is lackluster at most, but what mainly pisses me off is that everything takes so fucking long. Thinking the thinks iz hard, people. Mysteries are really hard to solve when you don’t know how to think.

The whole town gets really stuck on the description of it being in the “lowest part of the house of the highest.”

Is it that house? Or that one? How tall is that one? Can we compare the two? Can someone get out a tape measure?

 

THE HOUSE OF THE HIGHEST = THE HOUSE OF GOD, ya heathens!

 

Geez, this is what the Anglican church does to people.

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