Dear Ms. Fox:
This is the second book in your “Dirty Girls Book Club.” I tried to read the first one but it didn’t work for me so when I received this novel I had every intention of putting it in the discard pile until I read the blurb. The blurb revealed that the heroine is Chinese studying art in Vancouver with plans to return to Hong Kong when she is finished with her studies.
And everything that I liked about the book was connected to the multicultural aspect but overall I felt the book lacked sizzle. Kim came off more as a long time resident of Vancouver rather than a two year art student from Hong Kong but there were enough (albeit some generic) allusions to her fidelity and obligation to home as well as her obvious phenotypical characteristics for me to buy into the multicultural aspect. Problematically, the style of writing seems rather dry and the story itself relies too much on gimmicks.
Marty was crazy to be attracted to a dusty, sweaty cowboy. Yes, he was a bad boy, and bad boys were sexy. But when it came to bad boys and sexual fantasies, Kim’s pick would be a man like the worldly Comte de Vergennes who’d seduced Lady Emma in the first dirty book the club had read. A bad boy did not have to be sweaty.
Kim had easily related to how the naive Lady Emma had fallen for the charming Comte. Marty Westerbrook was anything but naive, Dirk Zamora was anything but charming, and yet Marty felt an animal attraction. That was hard for Kim to relate to, but women’s tastes were different.
Did Dirk Zamora feel the attraction too? He’d tried to get rid of Marty, not seduce her. It could be interesting to see how the male chauvinist cowboy and the feminist journalist were going to hook up. Okay, maybe the book wasn’t as bad as Kim had expected.
Kim is a big city girl. She’s grown up in Hong Kong, one biggest metropolis’ in the world, and reading about cowboys doesn’t seem to be her thing so she’s not super enthused when her book club starts a cowboy erotica book. As in the first of this series, some of the erotic atmosphere is lent through the passages of the fake book the heroine is reading. To me, these passages are almost a throw away. They are sexy scenes but because you only get snippets throughout the story, there is no emotional connection between the reader and the fake story.
The fact that the heroine is turned on by the fake story doesn’t really move the reader either. In fact, it seems to set up this idea of a fetishistic sort of attraction between Kim and the cowboy she does meet. After reading the book, one of the more outgoing members suggests that the book club go to a bar and pick up a cowboy so that they can act out their own cowboy fantasies. In some ways, this book (and perhaps the set up) is reinforcing some of the worst sorts of stereotypes about female romance readers. That they are stroke fiction that lead to unreasonable expectations.
Ty Ronan is a cowboy through and through. He’s done the rodeo circuit but he’s settling in to work the family ranch. The one night stand that Ty and Kim share is earth shattering and one night eventually leads to more (after some persistence by Ty). The rest of the book pretty much follows the course of the first three chapters. There is great sex between the characters and then navel gazing about how temporary their relationship is and how great of a sacrifice one makes for love.
The culture conflict is more Green Acres (big city girl with country boy) versus East meets West and that was perfectly fine with me. Both Kim and Ty have strong family connections. It is one nice thing other than sex that binds the two together but also provides the supposed impossible conflict. It is very hard to imagine Ty in Hong Kong but it isn’t so hard to see Kim settling into designing t-shirts and scarves in Vancouver. Yes, Kim loves her parents and they expect her to return to Hong Kong but is it really so hard to see her following her dream in Vancouver? C-