Monday, September 26, 2011

Her Long Lost Husband

Her Long Lost Husband
by Josie Metcalfe


The writing itself is good and solid. I like her voice and her style. So it's too bad that her take on the long lost husband shows up and interrupts his wife's new wedding involves descriptions of wheelchair use that make me think Gregor is in some clunky old hospital chair.

"The stark contrast of the trousers that only seemed to exaggerate the extreme thinness of his thighs as he sat there passively in the chair." Passively? This is the guy who just rolled into a wedding ceremony and is about to call out that the marriage can't take place. How is that passive?

"He hadn't wanted Livvy to see him in such a pathetic state; to see him having to laboriously heave himself out of the chair when all he could rely on was his upper-body strength." If he's been in that chair longer than two months, he should not be having that much trouble transferring into a car. When I think of the complaints the Avatar movie got that Jake seemed to be struggling with transfers more than was realistic, this is just ridiculously over the top.

I couldn't keep reading. I skipped to the end to see if what I feared was true and it was. There's a surgery and cure at the end of this book. I don't hate cure endings because I'm a bad person who wants the character to be unhappy. I hate the cure ending because 1) it makes people think that SCI is fixable and those who are still paralyzed must just be lazy, 2) it supports the belief that cure is the only path to happiness.

The guys in books like this are always miserable, whiny brats who obsesses about how they are "pathetic" or "ruined" and they shouldn't ruin their woman's life by being with her. This is such crap and makes me furiously angry. Books like this support negative stereotypes about life with disability and I think that's a terrible thing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lovers and Liars

Lovers and Liars
by Lilly LaRue


This is a short story, which I think is quite reasonable for the price. It tries to cover an awful lot of ground for a short piece, though.

It would have been a fine, sexy fantasy sort-of story if not for a couple of things. First, the characters were very thin. We didn't get a chance to get inside their minds and understand them, which made their behavior difficult to understand.

My liking for both of them fell fast based on comments like:

Bari: "She was bothered by Cooper's confinement to a wheelchair because he was so young. If she were honest with herself, she was also disappointed. Bari had been attracted to him from the moment she met him...perhaps it was for the best that he couldn't make love." Really? Because he uses a wheelchair he is A) "confined" and B) definitely unable to make love? This sort of thinking drips with pity, and yet later they get together and she tells him that his wheelchair doesn't bother her.

Bari: "At least he'd been able to walk at one point in his life. That was something to be thankful for." What kind of terrible statement is that? A person who has never walked is a sad, pitiable person?

Cooper: "I regained my sexual function. It made me realize that I was still a person." So if you don't have sexual function, you're not a person? I am nearly speechless with offense at that comment.

Cooper: "I'm stuck in this g*dd*mn wheelchair for the rest of my life and I won't be a liability to some helpless kid." Luckily he comes to feel otherwise. For my friends who are wheelchair users and fathers...I don't even have the words.

The thing that gets to me the most is that Cooper uses a power chair, supposedly. Never mind that he transfers out of it and folds it to put it in the passenger seat of his car (I've never known of a power chair that could do that), but he is paralyzed from the thighs down (conveniently, so of course sex is no problem). I am completely unable to believe that he would use a power chair.

I wanted to like this story and I really would have, but ignorant and hurtful statements about disability ruined it for me. It's one thing to have the bad guy refer to Cooper as a "cripple half-man," but I can't get past the ways Bari and Cooper themselves think of disability.

Bitter Homecoming

Bitter Homecoming
by Ann Jacobs


This is the usual, expected story of the bitter man who is sure that he is completely unappealing and the woman who is constantly throwing herself at him for extremely explicit sex couldn't possibly really want him. Gag.

The hero was really irritating to me. He was so insecure and whiny that I didn't find him sexy at all. The book is pretty much sex scenes plus the hero thinking "she deserves better than me, she must not really want me" followed by the heroine telling him (and definitely showing him) that she did. This pattern repeated over and over and over and over with no sense of rising tension. His use of the phrase "helpless cripple" really grated on me. At one point Gray "wondered--not for the first time--if it was worth the torture he suffered, using braces and crutches to create an illusion of mobility." And I'm right there with him wondering the same thing. Apparently he would do everything possible to avoid using a wheelchair, a medical device that is specifically designed to help with that mobility issue and that would be a much safer and easier way for him to navigate the world.

The story is that these two had an extended one-night stand before Gray went off on a dangerous mission during which he was, supposedly, killed. He left Andi pregnant, though. Eight years later he's back in town. He had been captured and tortured, but not killed. He has some sort of spinal cyst that's inhibited his ability to use his legs and he is missing one eye.

The child serves as a catalyst to get them back together and they get married after meeting again maybe two or three times. The kid himself doesn't feel real, but just a plot device (overly cute and precious). He is easy to get rid of while they have lots and lots of sex.

There was sort-of an excuse for all the hero's whining. He likes to be dominant. I would have loved to see the heroine find creative ways to show him that he can be. But he doesn't feel better about himself until he has an operation that, while it doesn't cure him, takes away a lot of the disability. Leaving me feeling upset that he can't get a happy ending with his injuries as they are.

This book may be for you, even though I disliked it. If you like very explicit sex, this might be a book you'd enjoy. If you like a guy who spends every waking minute brooding and feeling not good enough for the heroine, you may enjoy this book. If you like a heroine who never tires of being the perfect partner, the person to constantly reassure her insecure man, you may enjoy this book.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Daredevil's Run

Daredevil's Run by Kathleen Creighton


This is, to date, the best romance genre novel that I have read.

The action was believable, but exciting. It was paced well and the entire book took place over just a few days. I loved the way the author described each moment and movement of the characters. It drew me right into the story. There was a subtle suspense plot running under the surface and it provided just enough extra tension to really enhance the love story.

It is the story of former partners and lovers who have not seen each other for five years, not since Matt was paralyzed in a freak climbing accident. Alex (the girl, most of the girls in this book have boy names) tried to stick by him at the time, but he wasn't able to deal. His brother convinces him to go back and try to make up for it, but someone else has another agenda.

Impressively, this is the most believable portrayal of paraplegia I have ever seen in a romance novel. I found Matt very real and thought the descriptions of how he moved were accurate and well written. I also completely bought it when he performed some amazing, daring rescues!

My complaints are minor. This, as seems to be a tradition with romance novels, is part of a series of related stories. It's clear there was a previous book about Matt's brother Cory and his wife. I haven't read that one and it was not necessary to enjoy this book, but there were a lot of references to things that must have happened in the other.

Two minor points about the SCI. It was strange to me that Matt was driving a van with a wheelchair lift. I've never known a t-10 para to waste time with a slow lift, not to mention the expense, all the guys I know drive a regular car. Second, there's a line: "flexed his hands in the leather gloves all people in wheelchairs wore to protect..." I don't know of a single thing that ALL people in wheelchairs do. Certainly not gloves. Some do and some don't wear them.

The devo factor was high for me. Matt's movement was described, he was an appealing man and not a jerk, and the love-making scene at the end was not glossed over with a simple "he's a low level injury, so everything is okay."

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quid Pro Quo


Quid Pro Quo tells the story of a paraplegic radio reporter Isaac Knot (Nick Stahl) who receives a tip about a local group of wannabes and pretenders.  He discovers that the tipster is a woman named Fiona (Vera Farmiga), who, with Isaac’s accompaniment, finally realizes her dream of being a wheelchair pretender. 

Isaac is a sexy wheeler and you likely won’t be disappointed by the sight of him wheeling around the city, and the character earns our sympathy when he gets stood up on a blind date by a woman who didn’t realize she was being set up with a disabled man.  Unfortunately, Fiona’s portrayal of a pretender didn’t seem entirely realistic to me, but at least the movie didn’t make pretenders seem evil… just hopelessly kooky. 

The movie could have been a solid dev film, but a ridiculous ending involving “magic shoes” ruined it.  But it still deserves three stars for the very appealing image of Isaac in a wheelchair.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Judging Jayden

Judging Jayden by Emma Daniels


Very engaging at first. The sexual tension is high and drawn out in enjoyable detail. It's a really promising start.

It's a bit difficult to believe that this gorgeous man is as insecure as he is due to such mild Cerebral Palsy that it's hardly even noticeable (the main character thinks he might have a sprained ankle, that's how subtle his limp is). The number of bad things that have happened to Jayden stretches credulity.

The beginning is very solid, but it loses focus half way through. Typos start cropping up, though I didn't find those too distracting. The arc of the plot gets lost, and it's very hard to figure out what we are rooting for, as it goes on and on after it seems the initial conflict is resolved.

There are strange moments of telling things that are huge plot points that I would expect to be shown in a scene, but I don't want to go into detail of that because of spoilers.

In devo terms, I was disappointed by how very subtle his disability was. He was hugely insecure and upset about his disability, but it seemed way out of proportion. There were some good opportunities to talk about how he walked, but there was only maybe one description of it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Heart of Little Faith

A Heart of Little Faith by Jennifer Wilck

A standard romance story with a paraplegic hero and a widowed heroine. I enjoyed the writer's style. She was very descriptive, engaging all the senses. The sexual chemistry and tension between the main characters was vivid. The secondary characters were all fun and interesting.

As is typical in these sorts of books, the hero's paralysis is incomplete and does not affect sexual functioning at all. He is insecure about his disability and wanders into a bit of melodramatic ridiculousness on occasion. Mostly he's a good, solid character, though.

I found the dev moments few and far between, but they were still there. No miracle cure, so that was good. I had some difficulty losing myself in the story because of a throw away line early on. Gideon's boss suggests setting him up with a woman he knows who thinks wheelchairs are hot. Gideon dismisses the idea, saying that these kinds of women are usually "curiosity seekers." This struck me as a very strange description. As a woman who thinks wheelchairs are hot, I am not really all that curious. I've dated and known many, many men with SCI and know more about it than the average person. I was distracted by that moment and it felt like a bit of a slap in the face, as though to say "This isn't written for you."

Overall, though, a very solid offering that follows the conventions of its genre and does so well.