I haven’t done too much on this blog that can be considered ‘research’ for my HS Reunion manuscript. In fact, I think this is my first official post related to the book — even though I finished the rough draft in May. Oops. I think that’s because it’s a straight rom-com, which I have plenty of research in already. Having lived almost forty years, and a fan of obvious tropes, sitcoms, chick lit, and other Basic™ romance, I felt more than adequately prepared for the challenge ahead.
So, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory was on sale, marked down from its usual $7.99 (!) to either .99 or $1.99, which made it reasonable. And with a lot of travel in the next few months, I guessed there would be some down time for me to read the book.
To start, although I’m self-published, I do always compare traditionally published books to my own. In the case of The Wedding Date, I definitely found my work to come out ahead (and wondered why on earth Penguin would publish this novel in its current form).
Where did the book go so wrong? While I loved the initial trope of Meeting In A Condensed Space (in this instance, trapped in an elevator), followed by an even better trope of Fake Dating (the best!), the book kind of ran out of steam at the 20% point, after the pair go on the titular ‘wedding date.’ There was no conflict. I mean, other than the hero/heroine live in two different cities (but see each other all the time) and have a few communication errors, there’s really nothing going on.
Oh, except the boning.
I unapologetically love romance novels, and am nearly always reading one. I have read some amazing sex scenes — ones charged with passion and tension. Ones that are beautifully written and do right by the characters. I can tell you that The Wedding Date is filled with absolute vanilla nonsense, that somehow is both what I would consider a ‘clean’ read (i.e. the descriptions are quite limited when it comes to anatomy) and ‘turning the lights out’ as in, the author leaves the audience to imagine what happens.
The problem is that the main characters bone a lot. Like, half the book is just them having sex. Great, kudos for them. However, when sex is written poorly and while it appears they are fucking just to fuck, it doesn’t add anything to the book, especially when it’s poorly written nonsense. If there’s any silver lining, I am glad the author focuses on safe sex, and they use a condom every time (no mention of birth control for the heroine).
So, if I learned anything from reading this book, it’s to make sure the sex in my novel is there for a reason. That it’s well written and not just to take up space. In my current draft, there are three separate scenes where the characters are intimate, but now I’m wondering if the third one isn’t a little gratuitous. Also, writing smut has always been a weakness of mine, so when I go back to edit, I’ll need to make sure that the scenes are worth reading and not clunky Tab A / Slot B descriptions.
Also, why are these characters ALWAYS EATING? Nearly every scene revolves around food in some strange way. I’m not saying people don’t need to eat, but the constant eating made me feel full. Also, who eats donuts that much? Have the characters, one of whom is a doctor, never heard of diabetes?
Finally, while there is no doubt I’m happy to see representation with a POC lead, I wish it had been with another book.
Am I encouraged to read another book by Ms. Guillory? No, unfortuantely, I am not.
Have you read The Wedding Date? What did you think? What are you favorite romance/chick lit tropes?