Brockmann, Suzanne: Heart Throb

Here we go with the catching-up. First, a batch of trash read at work [continued to two next posts for import into MT]:

Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann is a genre romance that was re-issued with a special $3.99 cover price. I saw it at the grocery store one day, recalled that I’d heard the author’s name before, and said “Why not?” So, publishers, this stuff works—except you want to make sure it’s a good book you’re trying to get people to pick up. This is not, and I will be strongly reluctant to try other Brockmann novels as a result.

Heart Throb does have its strong points. It is a romance of the “force characters into close proximity by any means possible” type, and the proximity-forcing device sounds completely idiotic when summarized (movie producer desperately needs star for movie, must stay with star every waking moment to make sure star doesn’t relapse into addiction); however, the book does put a fair bit of effort into making the premise a teeny bit plausible, kinda-sorta. It has an actual interracial romance—as a secondary plot, granted, but still.

Unfortunately, the central relationship—well. Bujold readers, remember when Ekaterin asks Miles if he’s trying to one-up her dead? All the central protagonists do is one-up each other’s angst; it’s what passes for relationship development, the constant revelations of even deeper levels of angst. I might have loved it when I was younger, but it’s astonishingly tiresome now. Not recommended.

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  1. I actually kind of like Heart Throb; despite all its improbability, the secret writer making it big is an obvious fantasy kink of mine. It was the first of Brockmann’s “single-title” releases; previously she’d done series romances, some interestingly atypical (one is a time-travel romance whose failure to deal properly with time-travel paradoxes drives me nuts), but most successful for the ones about Navy SEALS. After another single-title attempt to break out into a different formula, she reverted back to SEALS for the single-titles as well. They have been tremendously successful, I have a bunch of them piled up to get to, and I haven’t read one.

    Johansen I read when she was doing straight romance (including some very weird stuff about genetically engineered paranormal kids raised in a Middle Eastern Ruritania), and even tried one or two of her suspense novels. I stopped when I realized that she was kind of good at romance, but sucked at suspense, and, wait, the romance wasn’t actually working for me anymore, either.

    Occasionally I find and reread one of her books which I liked as a teenager; it’s a deeply embarrassing experience.

  2. It was in the context of the SEALs books that I heard of Brockmann, but I’d expect those to be angsty too from past experience with military-men-romances, so shall probably skip them unless someone raves at length and in detail.

    I read a bunch of Johansen’s genre romances back in the day as well, though I seem to have missed or forgotten the “genetically engineered paranormal kids raised in a Middle Eastern Ruritania”!

  3. [raises hand] guilty of the Brockmann-push, here. But as I also mentioned, I’m a sucker for the early category Brockmanns, and not at all of the post-#3-SEALS and the single titles. The four titles of hers I’d recommend unreservedly, however, are hard-to-find, unless, like me, you live in a town with (wait for it) a romance specialty book store. The four I’d recommend would be from the Bantam Loveswept line. I’m linking to excerpts, so you won’t have to plunk down the change to see if they’re worth a try.

    Kiss and Tell
    The Kissing Game
    Time Enough For Love
    Body Language

    Completely agree on the Roberts ObVillains.

  4. Well, I’ll keep those in mind in case I come across them. Thanks for the links to the excerpts, otherwise the titles would never stick for me.

  5. Yeah, the genericness of romance titles are a pain. And you never know, you may not have to go used-paperback hunting. They’ve been reprinting the early Crusies categories, Brockmann SEALS, and Loretta Chase regencies. Publishers are finally getting a clue about reprinting and keeping titles on the shelf for readers to find.

    I never cease to wonder at the weird parallels between romances and comic books. (Readers with publisher loyalty, monthly installments, open-ended series, crossovers… I’m waiting for a “Regency of Two Worlds”. Oh, no, wait. That’s The Grand Tour, isn’t it? 😉

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