by Robin Schone, historical (2009)
Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-22593-6
Cry For Passion is a book by Robin Schone, so if you have read anything by her in the past, you should have a good idea what to expect here. Plenty of very miserable characters, wallowing in guilt, gloom, and what not, coming together to have sex while in the background, an over the top cartoon villain cackles and waits for these two to get their comeuppance.
Rose and Jonathon Claring hadn't shared the marriage bed in about eleven years. This is because Jonathan had been rendered sterile due to mumps and, as a result of his feelings of inadequacies and other jolly emotions, he no longer wants anything to do with her. When the story opens, Rose enlists lawyer Jack Loudoun to assist her in getting a divorce from Jonathon. This story is set in a time when divorce is nearly impossible for a woman to obtain, so Rose isn't asking Jack for a small favor. Jack takes on the case because he once had an affair with a married woman and he could never get over the fact that he might have prevented her death if he had defied conventions and asked her to leave her husband for him. Oh, and because this is an erotic romance by Robin Schone, Rose is naturally a needy but ignorant woman who needs schooling in sex by a man like Jack.
As you can probably tell, the story is as entertaining as watching someone toss a bag of hapless crippled kittens into a lake. It doesn't help that for almost two thirds of the story the writing is full of fragmented sentences, opaque and excruciatingly slow scenes, and bizarre references to weeping vaginas and throbbing testicles. It is as if Ms Schone is trying to emulate James Joyce with some bonus purple prose on the side.
It's a pity that Cry For Passion turns out to be such a dreary read, because the premise by itself is pretty unusual. The author could have pulled off something good here, but... sigh. Maybe it is due to her ill health, I don't know, but the whole story ends up being... sigh. The whole thing just makes me feel really blue at the end of the day. There are some attempts at character growth and some scenes where the characters try to address their issues either with each other or with relevant secondary characters, but these potentially good moments seem halfhearted at best, as if the author for some reason can't really finish what she is trying to start here.
Unfortunately, Rose is a pretty typical and therefore dull heroine from this author. Her so-called love for Jack seems more like a pathetic kind of gratitude for his ability to get her to experience orgasms. In this story, nothing else goes well for her. So while I can't blame her for clinging to Jack, she loves him not because she wants to, but because she has to. Jack often comes off like a man who is better off popping pills than popping off with a woman. I cannot buy the romance. Jack is too hung up over his dead ex-girlfriend and I can't help feeling that Rose is merely a means for him to get over his past. Okay, so these two have sex, but they are such depressing people in a constant flux of misery, the sex scenes seem more like an inadequate means of succor than an expression of love. I find myself expecting these two to burst into tears during their Prozac-laced orgasms.
In other words, this is a typical example of an "erotic" romance by Robin Schone, only this time the writing is even more fragmented and forbiddingly opaque than before. Struggling through this book will either make you feel really smart or really stupid, I suspect, with little in between. But why try so hard? Why pick this book up when there are so many erotic romances out there at the moment, many of which are happier than this? Still, if you're a big fan, or if you are in the mood to experience what it feels like to cut your own wrists without actually going through the whole messy ordeal, put on the greatest hits CD of My Chemical Romance in the background and turn to page one. You'll get exactly what you are wishing for, trust me.
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