One of the drawbacks with asking for copies of just out or upcoming ebooks from NetGalley is the commitment to writing a review. Not that I don’t enjoy writing reviews, I do, but you always have the sword hanging over your head that one of them might not be good, and then what do you say? You have to tell the truth to your readers, but hate the thought of possibly hurting the feelings of a writer who spent a lot of time and energy on a work of fiction that means something to them.
The best way to approach it is not to just trash the book, but to be very specific about what you didn’t like about it. Truth be told, there have been plenty of times I’ve read a very negative review on Goodreads and still decided to buy the book, because the points picked out by the reviewer were details that wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, or even things that sounded great! Just because someone didn’t like it, doesn’t mean there isn’t a reader out there who might enjoy that specific work.
I like to say that I’m a picky eater, but an omnivorous reader in that I read and enjoy just about everything. Unfortunately, I could not swallow Consent to Love by Abby Wood. It takes a lot to have me put down a book, but I managed to get 75% of the way through this one and thought, “Oh my God, I just can’t read one more sentence of this.” I tried to pick it up two more times, but ended up putting it down yet again before finally giving up.
Let me be clear about what I didn’t like. Kane is a sexy construction worker known to the lovely barmaid Ana Reynold through mutual friends. He lives on the local Lakota reservation raising the horses he loves, but one look at Ana and he has to have her. Ana melts at one glance of Kane’s substantial physique and they soon strike up a very passionate physical relationship. She’s upfront about not having a ton of experience, and he is clear that he doesn’t think a relationship is a great idea, largely because of the tremendous local prejudice about interracial relationships, particularly with a Native American man and white woman.
This had SUCH great potential. I’m with the hordes of romance writers and industry enthusiasts who lament the dearth of great minority characters and at first glance Kane was everything he should be. His Lakota heritage wasn’t belabored but was rather simply part of who he is, lending a valuable dimension and insight into his character. The prejudice against him seemed out of control in this day and age, but I don’t live in the West and the author does, so she gets to make the call on that societal commentary.
Where I kept getting stuck was on Ana’s character. She was so hard to suss out, to the point where I began to wonder if she had a personality disorder that would explain her lack of predictability. She’s an artist, somehow a terrific one despite not much education, but she alternates between being okay with the casual nature of her relationship with Kane to crying about how much they are meant for each other. With people in her life, she vacillates between being assertive and clear about her personal goals or feelings, and painfully reticent. I guess, she came off as incredibly young in the end, and there is nothing appealing for me about an immature heroine. The dialogue was particularly awkward, to the point of it repeatedly jarring me out of the story, and that’s a flaw that has me always put down a book.
The love scenes were well-written and the narrative description of the setting of the small town, the reservation, and Kane’s sister’s home were outstanding, giving me a vivid visual image to place the characters. But sadly, it wasn’t enough in this case. Because of it, however, I would give Abby Wood a second try with a new novel, but this novella left me with more than a little indigestion.