Friday, August 19, 2011

Blind Attraction

Blind Attraction by Myrna Mackenzie

Wow, this was a terrible book. I was really disappointed, because it had so much potential. Handsome young inventor, blind since birth, and a book that is a romance/sci fi/suspense hybrid, sounds intriguing. But no, it fails on every level.

First, as believable fiction. All the characters are completely flat, and act and speak like no human ever would. The story seems to take place in some alternate world where orphanages dot the landscape as if it were 19th century England, but the abandoned children there grow into genius multi-millionaire inventors who live in houses with armies of servants and supermodel social workers (our hero and heroine). Alyssa quits her modeling career to become the caretaker/head cook of the orphanage Conor funds. Seriously, what is up with the orphanages? Note to author: for the past 50 years, orphanages have been replaced with foster care and group homes in the United States. Oh and realism in the representation of blindness? Zero. Several times Conor even "looks" at people, what lazy writing. There's no miracle cure, but still the devo factor is low.

Second, as romance. Not only were the characters totally flat, they were weirdly obsessed with pregnancy and children. The big conflict is that Conor feels he will be "donating flawed genetic material" (he actually uses that phrase several times) and believes he should never reproduce, which he assumes Alyssa not only wants but deserves as an attractive woman. Ok, marriage (and eventually children) is the main goal of most romance fiction, but even in the rarified world of romance novels, the characters don't usually start discussing their reproductive plans on the first date, and then obsessively thereafter every time they even think about having sex. It's creepy and weird. Even creepier: what begins to change Conor's mind is sitting next to a heavily pregnant woman on an airplane who talks loudly to her fetus during the flight. WTF?!? I also couldn't take the extreme sexism inherent in the story. Conor is contacted by his genius family to help find the genius bad guys, placing him in extreme danger and under unbearable stress for some reason. To help him, Alyssa leaves the orphanage to move in with Conor in order to service him sexually and see that he eats and sleeps regularly, in other words, to take care of the female stuff while he does his manly man work, even though he does have a house full of servants (again with the 19th century lingo). And it's not just that, she's so passive around him, even "tilting her head up to be kissed" rather than kissing him herself. It's actually quite rare to find romances from the past 15 years this blatantly sexist, I was surprised.

Finally, as suspense. Like a lot of poorly-written romances, NOTHING HAPPENS (except some awkward sex scenes shoved into the plot at the requisite 1/3 and 2/3 marks). The backstory of the genius family is barely fleshed out; the main bad guy's crime is something called the World Bank Heist (seriously, that was the best you could come up with?). For all the talk of the EXTREME DANGER Conor and by extension everyone else is in, nothing ever happens, not even the slightest hint of a real threat. Once the romance part of the plot is resolved, the suspense part disappears completely. I thought there were pages missing at the end. Maybe the next installment takes up the gripping mystery of the WBH (they seriously call it that) but I can't be bothered to check.

This book is part of a series called Family Secrets, which seems like a genius marketing move: come up with an overarching suspense/romance story, and have a bunch of different authors write each installment, meaning that there is one installment published every month. It's much faster than any single author could write. But the quality of the writing is so amateurish, and it's clear this author didn't have any connection to the larger narrative. Even the cover is half-assed--why is there a picture of Conor playing a piano? He never does in the novel. It's like they got blind-guy clipart for the cover. Just one more indication that nobody cared about the quality of this book.

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