PONDERING: In Which Reading Out of Order Pays

Friday, June 4, 2010 1:00
Posted in category Ponderings

Limecello I haven’t had a good long blog title in a while. I love the meaty ones but learned early on to shorten them because of link issues. And spacing. Also short and pithy gets more attention, right? I should know – I have the attention span of a two year old. No really. I’m happy to be having five different conversations at the same time. With a single person. (The other person is generally less thrilled.)

book cover But! This is a post/review/defense of reading out of order. Exhibit A: Broken by Shiloh Walker. (And for any of you who think I’m biased – which is the good thing, not prejudiced- which is bad – I read this book before I ever met her. In fact, in the interest of honest disclosure, I bought this book to enter a contest to try to win a nook. A nook! I really wanted it. I didn’t win.) But the blurb looked good and I’d thought the previous titles I’d read by Ms. Walker were okay as well, so I gave it a go.

This is the premise/blurb:

Quinn Rafferty is working as a bounty hunter and bail bondsman in St. Louis when a new neighbor catches his eye. He’s tempted by her beauty—but he knows from experience that anyone desperate enough to live in his building is damaged goods. Besides, he has his own soul to mend before he can worry about anyone else.

Desperate
Sara Davis is on the run, but not for the usual reasons a woman goes on the lam. She’s not an abused wife, and she’s not a criminal. But she does have a plan for her future. And as much as she finds herself attracted to her gruff, tough neighbor, she can’t risk telling him the secrets she’s hiding. There’s just too much at stake.

Driven to desire…
But Quinn must get closer to Sara when she turns out to be the target of his new missing persons case, and he discovers that there is something more complex and dangerous to her than he thought. Now, both Quinn and Sara will have to expose their true feelings—as well as their fragile hearts—if they hope their love will survive…

Admittedly, parts interested me, and others didn’t. Bounty Hunter and bondsman didn’t really move me one way or the other. But the fact that Quinn fell in love with his target, Sara… well I love the forbidden romance stories. The angst and yearning – the delicious wanting… I eat it up.

So, we have the characters. First of all, Quinn is incredibly likable, which is strange because… he’s definitely not a people person. In fact, he’s down right surly and mean. I’d say that’s part of his charm, but it really isn’t. He’s a brick wall. What saves him, is that he has a huge heart. It just takes a lot of digging – and it’s not easy going. I liked that Ms. Walker kept him true to himself. Quinn isn’t friendly. He doesn’t want to be friends, and rather dislikes people. But in all that, you know he’s a good and decent human being. That his coldness isn’t complete. He’s definitely not a marshmallow, but he isn’t soulless.

Sara… I like, in a way because she fooled me. I won’t go into spoilers here, but Ms. Walker tricked me but good. I generally figure out books quickly. Too quickly, which is yet another reason why I don’t go for romantic suspense. Ms. Walker, however, had me snowed. I definitely didn’t suspect right off the bat. I also like Sara because when we meet her, she’s taking charge, and ready to make a change. She’s also lived and is living a hard life, and you just want good things for her.

A reason for that is because Sara is so real. She’s definitely not perfect, and makes mistakes. She isn’t always put together, but she’s driven. Part of that is clear in how disciplined she is.

Suffice it to say, I really liked the characters, and the plot, and the book. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year. I’d give it an “A.”

Because I enjoyed the book so much I immediately bought the book that actually comes first in the series. Actually, I was enjoying Broken so much, I bought Fragile about halfway in, riding the high of a good read.

book cover I did not like Fragile as much. At all. The beginning of Fragile was very different to me. The whole tone, everything. Of course the setting was different, but for Broken it was authentic, and made sense. For Fragile I felt that I was expected to suspend my relief more often that I’m prepared to. I also felt that Quinn stole the show – pretty much as soon as we met him. And, the problem is that Luke Rafferty’s story comes first. Yes, there were some slight spoilers in Broken (which I obviously picked up on) that may have contributed to my less than love of Fragile. However, I contend that it didn’t truly matter.

Here is the blurb/premise of Fragile:

Sometimes the last thing you want is exactly what you need…

BATTLE SCARRED

Six years after trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs, Luke Rafferty still hasn’t found what he’s been searching for: a normal life. At his job, Luke is faced with things just as heartbreaking as those on the battlefield, none more so than the abused children brought in by a pretty red-headed social worker.

HEARTBROKEN

For Devon Manning, being a social worker is a rewarding job, but also a constant reminder of her own troubled youth. Devon takes everything one day at a time—unable to form a relationship with anyone except the children she rescues.

A DESIRE TO HEAL…

When Luke meets Devon, he thinks he might have found what he’s been looking for, but in order to get the life he wants, Luke has to break through Devon’s emotional barriers and make her realize that his healing touch might be just the complication her life needs…

I started out liking Devon a lot. Liked her more than Sara, even, and was all in. And then… she got hit with a stupid stick. It’s a phrase that I think should come back. Because, she really and truly was. Yes, there were parts I liked, but Devon essentially cut off her nose to spite her face. She decided to avoid Luke, and was just awful… for no good reason. In fact, she knew it was the wrong choice and was unhappy. Generally, I can respect such stubbornness. In fact, that was fine.

And here, we come upon spoilers. I’ve whited them out for you if you haven’t read the series and/or can’t stand spoilers. (If you’d like to see the text, just highlight it.)

Devon is/was attacked. She’s a social worker and had a crazy dad out to get her. Not. Cool. She sensed it, and knew something was out there, but sneaks around because “she can handle herself” and avoids the people trying to protect her. Maybe I’m just overly paranoid, but if I felt that someone was stalking me, I’d be keeping close to whoever was assigned to protect me. And ask a security guard to walk me to my car, instead of trying to brazen it out. Seriously – it’s not fun walking at night from point A to point B wondering if someone is going to stab you. Devon understand this… but doesn’t follow it. *Even though she knows there’s a threat.*

Even more… crazy stalker dad dies. She passes out, and (to my mind) didn’t think she killed him – yet somehow crazy stalker dad is dead. So… she obviously did it, right? Even the book doesn’t spell out a third party does the deed, but come on now, Miss Devon. I’m getting frustrated just writing about this.

And then – to make it all worse, Devon breaks up with Luke. She thinks he’s attacking her. Well, you know what? Ok fine. Our girl is finally showing some survival and protective instincts. But, things don’t get better. In fact, they get worse. She dreams someone is doing horrible things to her. She wakes up with her clothes off. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never stripped off my clothes while I was asleep. And I’m not one of those sleeps like the dead people either. Strange occurrences like that don’t give her a clue. I could not believe that. It was too much for me. The fact that she had “waking nightmares” – couldn’t distinguish dreams from reality it seemed… but the fact that physical objects were moving – things she hadn’t done, when she was supposed to be the only person in the house?

Anyway, the ending was fine. It was great and everything was resolved and happy. Unfortunately at that point I wanted to smack Devon upside the head and say “look, you idiot, if you had any sense at all you wouldn’t have let it escalate to this degree. Set up a nanny cam. Something. Anything.” I suppose she did suffer enough… but it annoyed me. And so… if I had read Fragile first… I’m not sure that I would have read Broken. I likely would have suspected a similar story or device… which would have been a shame because Broken is fantastic.

So there you have it. And, if you don’t have the book? Go buy it. Honestly. I think you should. And then come back and discuss the plot with me.

Now, your turn. Will you read books out of order? Do you read the end before reading the book? Did you ever have a good experience reading out of order? Bad?

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