I just need to stop reading historical fiction. Like right now. But I keep trying, like the little kid who keeps reaching for the electric burner, even though he’s bound to burn himself for the thirteenth time and once again lose several layers of skin in the process, or like the woman who just can’t stop dating that man-child with the six-pack abs and commitment issues and the Mickey Mouse voice, because damn it she can bounce quarters off his belly button, and that ought to be worth a few more rounds on the merry-go-round.
Because like that little kid I want to reach out and just one time find the burner turned off, or like the woman I just want to meet a man who looks like Brad Pitt but has a bit of substance for once in her damned life. Well, not me personally, but I feel your pain sister. With historical fiction, I am beginning to think it’s a bit personal, and I am beginning to think I’m the only one who hasn’t been let in on this wonderful, exotic secret that will somehow change my life, but maybe not. And it’s frustrating and intoxicating and I keep coming back for more. Just spin me one more time, and this stint is bound to be different.
And I end up…right back where I started. Let’s start with the dialogue shall we. Now I love me some good dialogue. I want to hug it and squeeze it and kiss it and pat its little forehead and somehow find a way to make it my own. More often than not (and this novel is no exception), I end up disappointed with the overused phrases tossed in my direction. It reminds me of the jellybeans often found beneath the sofa cushions. Just don’t eat them. Sure, they might have been great and wonderful three months ago (like the dialogue might have been snappy and witty about two or three generations ago), but I’m not feeling the love now. And I want to feel the love.
The characters proved a bit too unlikeable. Heck, let’s face it, at least one or two were probably borderline bastards. And that works for me, if the others pick up the slack and shine brighter than a Colt revolver. But I’ll be honest: I didn’t really like any of the sons-a-bitches. Again, sometimes that works when it’s done correctly, but yeah, that wasn’t really working for me either. The characters were just a bit too full of themselves, or completely and totally self-involved (like six-pack abs guy).
Let’s talk about setting. I love Massachusetts and Boston. I love the Cape and the North Shore with its quaint little towns and storybook houses. I love it even more when its spring or summer or fall, and when there isn’t a foot of snow on the ground with layers of ice packed underneath. But this didn’t really feel like Massachusetts to me. Something was just a bit off, and that’s probably a rather quick way of summing up TIGERS IN RED WEATHER.