Last month I was late with my TBR challenge (*hangs head in shame*), so I was determined to be AT LEAST almost on time with this one…
This month’s TBR Challenge, pulled from Wendy the Super Librarian’s Cliffs of Insanity was Favourite Trope. Which is kind of like asking me which of my cat-children I love best, or which M&M flavour I horde secretly so I don’t have to share…Or my favourite type of alcohol…
I mean really who can decide?
I realise I’m not Solomon here, making a life and death decision — but still the pressure – the pressure!!!
In the end, I couldn’t actually pick a favourite trope – there are TOO MANY – but I did just start reading a book that was SO choke full of tropes, I couldn’t resist.
Is it good?
ehhh – well – it’s not terrible, so I suppose that’s something…
Tropes used: well – what isn’t really?
Brothers in angst, Southern Belle displaced; in the workplace relationship; super neat organised heroine; surly rough as nails hero; opposites attract; shagging w/out strings; no attachment clauses; deep dark relationship secrets; brothers done stole my girl; renovation/interior design binging; and most interestingly: the Freudian Trio.
But before that – I have two questions:
1) What is with that cover???? Are those really male-person’s legs??? Or are they just hairy female legs??? They photo-shopped in the nail-polish – which is like ridiculously cheap – and also, the water view? Not even in the book.
2) Why does the title have absolutely NOTHING to do with ANYTHING in the story?
Anyway. Spoilers Ahead.
Obviously set to be a trilogy, Caleb Pierce, the eldest of three brothers, is a builder. He worked his way up to be next-in-charge in his father’s luxury building business. His father is nasty-with-a-capital-N, but Caleb puts up with the abuse, vitriol and general horribleness, because he knows that one day, it will be his.
Nicely enough, horrible father dies within the first chapter (YAY!)
Sadly though, a spanner (heh) be cast in the works rather speedily (OH NO!)
His father’s will stipulates that the business can only be passed onto ALL three of the brothers. They have to share the load, work together and make a reasonable profit, otherwise the company is dismantled and no one gets anything.
(this alone makes no sense – the father was AWFUL and basically ran them all off over the years and never talked to them. His last words to Caleb were – ‘don’t you dare call your brothers and tell them I’m going to die’ – so it is a bit of stretch of believability;)
Now, the three estranged, completely opposite brothers are sharing a house, and trying to work together after years of absence. Yeah – that’s going to go well.
Enter Morgan. A high-end interior designer and home art-iiisst, her job is to create intimate and beautiful homes for celebrities, without a whole lot of hard work from celebrities themselves (IS this ACTUALLY a real job? does anyone know?)
She has a customised dream house needing to be built and the Pierce Brothers are apparently the only people in the northern hemisphere that could possibly do it…
Of course sparks fly, opposites attract, studs are found…and all sorts of builder-y jargon is used as double entendres.
It feels a little like this…
There is a forest of tropes here. There are some bright interesting moments, and some snappy dialogues. But in the end, everything is pretty much paint-by-numbers.
Cal is a builder; rough, ready, always sweating, but never smelling. He broods and scowls and snaps and swears.
Morgan is sweet southern belle, who wears white to building sites, but can swing a hammer with the best of the boys.
She has a pink hard hat.
And a pink hammer.
Don’t forget the pink work boots.
For that reason alone I subtract points. Now I won’t bore you with my soap box rant – but one of my biggest snap-rage angsts is the need to feminise tools and work gear. In what world does ANYONE need a pink hammer???
Tell me, are we unable to use special hammers and power tools unless they are coloured specific GIRL colours? Like we need need more pink crap thrown at us.
I mean why stop there?
If we’re gender stereotyping, why not make blue tools for boys? Just to clear up any issues? You could have them in seperate sections of the hardware isle so NO ONE mistakenly buys the wrong gender of tool.
It frustrates the living heck out of me.
I’m not saying that there couldn’t be better designed tools or machinery, that was more ergonomic or lighter to use (Angle Grinders that weigh over 5kg and require someone at least twice as tall as me to use are NOT amazingly helpful)
But just making them pink?
NOT THE SAME THING.
Well…looks like you got my rant anyway.
Morgan is perfect and beautiful and organised and efficient but hiding a deep dark secret (of course), and Cal is dealing with his brothers, their various issues, and trying to keep his business afloat.
They bond over practically nothing, but that doesn’t stop it being a deep SUBSTANTIAL connection that ensures they could never finish their contracted job without succumbing to the rigours of a passionate workplace romance.
But to balance out the over abundance of trope, the overuse of pop-culture references, the insubstantial character development and the fairy-floss masquerading as plot; there are some things that do work:
There are some nice instances of equal-opportunity fights between the couple that frankly, are pretty well done and venture into the Kiss Me Kate/Taming of the Shrew territory
“Why, Mr. Pierce, how lovely to see you,” she drawled. She waved him inside, her poppy-pink nails flashing in the air. “Come in.”
He didn’t budge. Just stared at her, his gaze stripping all her bullshit and veneer aside and probing underneath. Scruff darkened his jaw. Dirt marred his meaty biceps. There was a hole in his black T-shirt, and he had a rip in his faded jeans. He looked sulky. Pissed.
And hot as a summer day in Charleston.
She tried to swallow and found she had no spit.
“Damn, you got some nerve. Did you have fun with your criminal activities?”
She blinked. “What?”
“You know. Blackmail. Stealing my job, which I worked hard for, just so you can play the game of I’m more important than you. Is that how you roll?”
Heat rushed to her cheeks. Oh, she really didn’t like him. He cut right to the bone at every opportunity. He needed a lesson on manners and civility. “Funny, if I was a man, right now you’d probably be thrilled to play a game of hardball. Is it because I’m a woman you don’t respect that in business, sometimes you have to bend the rules to get what you want?”
He barked out a short laugh. “Got no problem with strong women. Just ones who lie. I have the same problem with men, by the way.”
Caleb knew when to back off and admit he was wrong. “Can’t promise we won’t butt heads, but if you earn your place, you get my respect. And I apologize if my comments came off chauvinistic. That was kind of an asshole thing to say.”
“Let’s rehash the ground rules, okay? I pick the materials and furnishing and accessories and hardware. You tell me if you can make it work.”
“Fine. The answer is yes. I can make the ugly green lamp work in the bathroom that will never be used.”
She seethed with frustration, her teeth snapping together. “See? Was that so hard?”
“Yes, this is painful. I’m doing you a favor. I’m bored. I hate this shit. Can you buy the ugly lamp, contact Tristan in the morning, and get me the hell out of here?”
Suddenly she let out a laugh filled with such genuine joy, he couldn’t help but smile back.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m being kind of bitchy—we had a long day. I just wanted to get a jump start on some of the design because of our tight schedule.”
He relaxed. “Nah, I’m being whiny. Let’s go pay, and I’ll buy you a wine. Or a champagne. Or whatever you nice Southern girls drink.”
She looked interested. “A Chardonnay sounds perfect.”
Also the Freudian Trio with the brothers (Tristam & Dalton, in addition to Caleb) make a nice mix.
I have always been fascinated by power trios, and they tend to pop up in romance A LOT.
Possibly because I have symmetry issues, but I like the concept of the ’two foils plus the balance’ that occurs in them.
And Probst adheres to it by the rule.
Just like the Freudian theory of the human psyche consisting of three parts: the Id, Superego and Ego, likewise the three brothers have the same traits: one acts emotionally and instinctively, one acts with cold, passionless logic and one reconciles the two conflicting ideals.
Their characters are all extremes. They have to relearn how to communicate, and negotiate with each other and integrate back together as a family.
It is interesting to read.
The building and decorating bits are also good.
There are only a couple (?) of sex scenes – but so much panting and gasping and coitus-interruptus going on that honestly, it feels like more.
Add all that heavy breathing to the two giant dogs that Caleb rescued, who seem to drool, lick and slobber everywhere…and well, it just feels like there is an excess of saliva.
But that may be your cup of tea. I don’t judge.
Valancy: On time, on point, and in the house. (it sounded so snappy I couldn’t resist.)
Header Image: ‘Girl reading on sofa’Isaac Israels, 1920