My Experience with the Romance genre: Draconismoi Reads a Romance. From Start to Finish.

Filed in 1 Star , Draconismoi , reading challenge , Romance and Me , Susan Mallery Posted on November 26, 2012 @ 3:00 pm 18 comments

Wow, crazy month. Full of firsts.

First wedding I didn’t want to object too. First time off work. First completely spontaneous vacation. First time in New Mexico. First time separated from my laptop. (I know, I’ve been neglecting my fellow book lovers. But not my glorious books. 🙂 )

During my trip, I found an old school book exchange. Predictably filled with romances. Not one single non-romance title. And there I was, stranded, for two hours. What to do?

Is it possible that I am unfairly biased against an entire genre based on a few notoriously ridiculous tropes? This is my chance to give romance a fair shake. I WILL READ A ROMANCE! One without rape, iffy issues of consent, minors, or hideously awful misogyny.

There go the historicals and bondage. Which leaves me with two choices. One of which involves a cowboy. The other a chef. Cheffing it is! I am hungry, so we’re off to a good start.

Romance readers, use this opportunity to guess which book I read! Let me know in the comments at which point in the post you were able to correctly identify the book. Which is revealed at the end.



Chapter 1: We open with two career-minded ladies reveling in professional success so amazing it is forcing the ex-husband to come back begging for her to save his business. Hah! Love it! Love the heroine.

This is me on page 1. READY TO KICK ASS.

Strike that.

“God, WHY didn’t my ex contract a degenerative ailment causing him to prematurely age in my absence? LIFE IS SO UNFAIR.”

Chapter 2: He deliberately tried to keep his wife from pursuing her career? How long did it take her divorce this asshole?

Dude, she stabbed a member of her staff for being a sexist shit. Maybe you might want to lay off the power and control dynamics.

Chapter 3: Grandma’s a bitch. Obviously. You can’t be the lady CEO of a billion dollar food empire unless you are a ball-buster who ruins lives.

Is she supposed to be the villain?

Chapter 4:  Did you or did you not hire the supposed best chef in town? Then let her do her fucking job.

Chapter 5: “Yeah baby, I just get so hot chatting with you about all the places my brother’s doing it, while trying to visualize my sister doing it, and joking about the last time my grandma got some.”

Are you perchance related to the Dollangangers? Because if this is your idea of foreplay, you need to work on your game.

Chapter 6: Time to drop the pregnancy bomb. Show me some maturity, show me some professionalism, show me….

You withheld material information from me. I could fire your ass and you know it.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act has been around in the U.S. since 1978.

Psst, let me let you in on a little secret. You can’t fire or refuse to hire women for being knocked up. Get the fuck over yourself. You’re just pissed off because different sperm traversed your ex-wife’s vagina without your consent.

Jesus, your brother has been spying on her for you? What. The. Fuck. I was expecting Pasta, not Sleeping With the Enemy.

Chapter 7: Enter Damaged War Veteran Brother! Because the one thing this story was missing was stereotyped side characters.

Chapter 8: We’re getting along now? Was there a chapter where he was respecting your expertise and life choices that I totally missed?

Chapter 9: Good call Mr. Manager, all 5 star restaurants have cats in the kitchen. There is nothing patrons like better than picking cat hair out of their teeth.

Now he’s stalking and sexual assaulting her? Whew, someone get me a glass of ice cold water.

Chapter 10: Back to chef land! Where the boss is MIA because he’s creepily stalking the teenager he gave up for adoption. It’s amazing he has time to work in between dominating and controlling his ex-wife’s, ex-daughter’s, and half-sister’s lives.

Chapter 11: Sexy Best Friend Has Tragic Past. Women are only sexually confident when there is trauma.

Chapter 12: She sets boundaries, he ignores them. Charming.

Chapter 13: They talk about how he’s an emotionally manipulative pathological liar. That sort of baggage makes relationships HARD.

Grandma’s back banning sex with her precious grandson. This is still freaky. Family members should not be that interested in your junk.

Chapter 14: “Sorry ladies, in this family we men decide what you do and do not need to know about your careers, parentage, marriages, children, and cancer. Just accept it.”

Chapter 15: Stop rewarding him with sex for completely unacceptable actions! Admitting to abuse is NOT SEXY.

This book should have ended with the two women running off together to open their own restaurant and telling all the men to fuck themselves.

Chapter 16: Yeah, you’re a real fucking hero for not telling the critically ill teenage girl that you’ve been stalking her.

Chapter 17: Sex. Because you are never randier than after a bone marrow transplant.

Chapter 18: Cheffing interspersed with family soap opera drama. I’m finding it hard to believe any of these people have the brain capacity to run multimillion dollar empires.

Chapter 19: Time for a brotherly brawl! Each of these men have different opinions about the best way to control the women in the family. And they shall decide who is right with their fists. As you do.

Chapter 20:  Happy ever after?

Dear Romance: We need to talk. I gave you a fair shake. Really I did. I wanted to enjoy you. There is nothing better than a little escapist fiction when cooling your heels in an airport. You, however, have some issues glorifying and rewarding truly horrendous behavior.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good villain. But all your villains get sex for their bad behavior. This is unacceptable. Have you heard of the Power and Control Wheel? No, I didn’t think you did. Take a peek.
When your love interest’s behavior can, without exception, be placed on this wheel, you are romanticizing domestic violence. 
Fuck that.
Can anybody guess what book I read?

Format Read: Paperback.
Number of Pages: 377.
Release Date: February 1, 2006.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Publisher: HQN.
Formats Available: Paperback.
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Site.

Book Blurb:

Cal Buchanan needs a top-flight chef to take over his failing Seattle restaurant, The Waterfront. He can afford to hire the best in town — the only problem is that the best happens to be his ex-wife, Penny Jordan.

Penny really needs this opportunity, but she doesn’t need the distraction of working with her ex. She’s sworn off romance — she’s even having a baby on her own. But before she knows it, the heat is on . . . and the attraction between her and Cal moves from a low simmer to a full boil!

The rest should be easy as pie, but a secret from Cal’s past could spoil everything. Maybe it’s true that too many cooks spoil the broth — or maybe two is enough to make it irresistible.

In sum, Delicious confirmed all my negative feelings about the genre. I judge Susan Mallery guilty of romanticizing abusive relationships, inconsistent characterization, a ridiculous number of irrelevant soapy side plots, and not dishing out any actual sexual tension. 1 star.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Draconismoi

Draconismoi is a Legal Aid Attorney out on the frozen tundra. After two weeks of -30F, she started telling people she moved to Alaska because she loves the indoors. Right now you'll find her curled up under all the blankets she owns, surrounded by a pile of books. Every so often she emerges from her cave (when there is food) and wonders how she'll justify prolonging this behavior once the temperature rises and the sun returns.

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  • aurian November 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    O. My. I never would have guessed it, because I have not read this. Okay, anyone who has read it, is it really such a bad book? I am going through my books now, thinking of a good romance for you to try. Without controlling men and abuse.

    • draconismoi November 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      That was exactly what I thought I did! Look at the blurb. The blurb promises food and kitchen sex.

      I got a little food, absolutely no sexual tension or buildup, and an entire family of creepy controlling men. BOO!

  • Emily Crowe November 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Boo to the book but yay for my review. Read it on my lunch break and it made me laugh!

    • draconismoi November 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Yeah, I figured my pain would be amusing to the masses. I caved and bought Seraphina while in Powells (even though it was hardback!), so I SHOULD have a glowing review to post in the future.

      Though I never get as much feedback with the positive.

  • Emily Crowe November 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Er, make that *your* review above, not “my.* Sorry!

  • Caro The HEA Lover November 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Don’t give up on romance yet!!! This was definitely not the right book to read lol I’m sure we could find one you’d like. *g* <=== yes that IS a challenge. lol

    • draconismoi November 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I really was in a receptive mood!

      Despite my virulent hatred for Pride and Prejudice, I find myself watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries week after week. Granted it hasn’t been much of a romance yet.

      So yeah, never been in a more open-minded place when it comes to Romance. Then I got, well, this.

      • Caro The HEA Lover November 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

        Lizzie Bennet Diaries?? what’s that? Sounds interesting!

        • Draconismoi November 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

          It’s a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice as a webseries. Lizzie Bennet is a grad student doing a vlog for her thesis.

          It’s actually pretty interesting from a production perspective because all the characters have their own twitter accounts and facebook pages. They try to make them all seem as real as possible.

          At their current point in the story, Darcy just declared his love and go shot down. I don’t remember from the book – is that halfway? Eh, anyways.

          It’s based on one of the most famous romances ever! A romance that I utterly despised. And yet I am enjoying this. So. There you go. Go watch it.

          • Caro The HEA Lover December 1, 2012 at 5:24 am

            I’m so addicted now:! It’s an awesome concept. I’m hooked. I’m only on episode 29 but it’s hard to stop!

          • Draconismoi December 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

            It’s easier to step away when you get caught up. Because then it’s only a couple videos a week, and they are really short….so yeah. I think they are on video 60 something now. You’ll probably binge through them all this weekend, then get back to your life.

            Until a couple weeks pass and you realize GAH I FORGOT ABOUT THE SHOW. Then you catch up, and go back to rewatch certain videos to imagine how new information changes what was presented in the past videos.

  • blodeuedd November 27, 2012 at 1:17 am

    LOl, now this was just awesome 🙂

    • Draconismoi November 27, 2012 at 1:33 am

      Maybe I should try my hand at writing a literal romance novel, eh? One that tells it like it is.

      Instead of “I could feel his intense gaze from across the room, it made my heart pound just a little bit faster,” I’d say “As soon as he walked into the room, my hindbrain started screaming, RUN DUMBASS, you’re only a few genes away from being dinner!”

  • Sheree November 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hey, I managed to miss this one even though I think I read the rest of that series. And yeah, I gave up on this author a while ago.

    • Draconismoi November 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm


      You win the best comment award! Or you would. If we had one.

  • Stella November 28, 2012 at 7:38 am

    OMG your post first made me go all O_O then burst out laughing! I mean:

    “Chapter 17: Sex. Because you are never randier than after a bone marrow transplant.” seriously??

    Sorry Cass you had such a bad experience, I haven’t read this book but your review was still entertaining and shocking that this contemporary romance romanticizes abuse and controlling, domineering heroes.

    “I love a good villain. But all your villains get sex for their bad behavior. This is unacceptable. ”

    I agree.

    • Draconismoi November 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Yup. Seriously. Dude has a bone marrow transplant, and his EX-wife comes over to feed or check on him or something a decent human being would do….so he pounces on her. Ridiculous.

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