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Topic: Didn't love Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas

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Subject: Didn't love Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas
Date Posted: 11/22/2009 9:37 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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This was my first Sherry Thomas and the reviews were stellar and the scenario seemed like one I would really like - I wasn't that impressed - I found myself skimming through alot of the middle. I never truly got invested in the characters. I'm disappointed lol!

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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It was a DNF for me.  Do I have to hand in my girl card?

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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Oh I'm sorry you both didn't like it.  Its on my keeper shelf!  But that's what is great about romance - there is something for everyone out there!

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I loved it too, but I adore Sherry Thomas.  Her characters are so flawed & often difficult to warm to though, and I think it's one of those things that will keep a lot of people from getting into the story.  Like I could acknowledge that Private Arrangements was a well written & engrossing book, but I never actually liked either of the main characters.

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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I liked both of the characters although the heroine less so - I just never felt the sexual tension building - thought the story overall was too short and the details of the uprising to tedious. I thought it was well written just didn't do it for me. In some ways I found the "misunderstanding" unbelievable. It seems completely out of character for the heroine to have married him in the first place.

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I dunno, I think she was desperate to marry him and that's why she went through with it when a lot of women wouldn't.  I personally would have busted into the room when I caught him in the act, & I'm not sure he could have explained his way out of it, even though - as a reader - I did understand why he did what he did.  I put a lot of thought into that story, deciding if I was going to love it or not:P  And really, that's one of the things that I love about Thomas.  She pushes my hot buttons well, & forces me to think about whether or not I can accept these people and invest my emotions into the outcome of their story.  I read something she writes, and think, I don't know if I like that, but she does make me wonder if these are honest human emotions & behaviors, and I think, yes, they are.  I may not like them, I may not be comfortable with people who are so imperfect, but I can see myself making a lot of the same mistakes in my own life, so I can ultimately accept them for who they are.  Her characters are not the noble & perfect people I'd like them to be, but they seem very real to me in all of their flawed glory, so I can cheer for them when they find their HEA, even if it may seem like they're getting a lucky shake to have an HEA at all:P

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 5:12 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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Very good points Kim! Yes, I can see all of that.

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 6:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
Posts: 1,958
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I totally hated it too--and when I wrote that I didn't like it, I nearly got filleted by some fans.:)

Glad I am not the only one.  

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 13,134
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It wasn't my fave by her, but I thought it was a decent read.  Not a keeper for me though.

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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well Regina we left Sherri un-filleted after she had the sheer nerve to say she didn't like Linda Howard's Mackenzies!;) I'm still shuddering over that one!

but we all have different likes/dislikes and thank goodness there's something for all of us. I haven't read this one..haven't read any of  hers though I think I have 1-2 of them..just dont like a bunch of angst usually or too much drama and figured I wasn't ready to tackle them!

Date Posted: 11/22/2009 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I'm sorry you got that reaction, Regina.  I consider myself to be a die hard fan of this lady, but I would never beat up on somebody because her work doesn't appeal to them like it does to me.  I can well understand why it wouldn't, so while I don't mind saying exactly why I love her work, I'd never beat anyone up for saying they don't.  She doesn't exactly make it easy:P  She spares you none of the unattractive details of a failed romance, and the all too human reasons why so many do fail.  NQAH, in my opinion, is a lesson the importance of really knowing someone before you commit to spending the rest of your life with them.  I think Leo & Bryony were made for each other, but Leo's initial instinct that they didn't really know each other well enough to marry - that they should spend a year getting to know each other first - was correct.  It would be nice to believe love really can conquer all, but the reality of it is that you can love someone and still not have enough foundation to build a lifetime on.  Neither of these characters really had a lot of depth & maturity in the beginning, which I'm sure was deliberate.  And I'm not a big fan of second-chance romances, and never really have been.  They pretty much always revolve around some stupid mistake/misunderstanding that becomes more complicated and even more stupid as time goes by.  These are all Thomas has done so far though, and I have to hand it to her that she knows what she's about.  There are stupid misunderstandings there, so she's not doing anything new, but they seem rather cataclysmic compared to the paltry things that I've seen in other second-chance romances; a meddling parent or wicked stepmother/father who keeps the H&H apart, and blah-blah-blah.  She has guts in taking on topics like cheating & deception - things that romance readers have come to despise almost universally in the last decade or so.  I think her books are difficult to read, but obviously that's deliberate, and I have to believe that she would understand better than most why some romance readers wouldn't enjoy her work.



Last Edited on: 11/22/09 10:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/22/2009 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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Susanna - I thought it lacked angst and that was one of the things I was hoping for. I loved Mackenzie Mountain but didn't love the others although I enjoyed them. I just love Wolf Mackenzie!

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:58 AM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2009
Posts: 1,407
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(This post contains spoilers about all Sherry Thomas books!)

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I loved Not Quite a Husband! I thought it was a great story, beautifully told. I think what I like best about Sherry Thomas is the way she describes feelings in terms of imagery and analogy - by anchoring the feelings she makes the characters more believable to me.

Margaret M said...

 It seems completely out of character for the heroine to have married him in the first place.

I agree with Kim that she was desperate to. People can be confident in some spheres but not in others... Bryony was brilliant at chess and medicine but terribly stupid in her relationship. That's real to me.

I just never felt the sexual tension building

Yeah, I thought the early sex scenes in India were the weakest part of the book... they just came too soon (no pun intended ;) ). I never know how much to blame the author and how much to blame the publishers for wanting too much too soon.

Kim said...

Like I could acknowledge that Private Arrangements was a well written & engrossing book, but I never actually liked either of the main characters.

That's funny, I liked Gigi a lot aside from her initial stunt with the forged letter. Camden was such an ass that I kept half-hoping Gigi would leave him, and when she joined him at the end I wondered if she was being stupid. Thomas almost seemed not to understand how well she had written Camden's vindictiveness and passive aggression.

One thing I've enjoyed about Thomas is seeing her developing as a writer as I read her books. In Private Arrangements I thought she wrote herself into a corner with Camden and wasn't able to turn his character around believably in the end. In Delicious Thomas got heavy-handed with the Cinderella allusions - I wished she had trusted her plot more and used a lighter touch. In Not Quite a Husband she avoided both those mistakes. I could nitpick, but really I thought it was her strongest book yet. I don't see many (any?) other authors experimenting and developing this way. So many of them seem to find one formula and repeat it over and over and over.



Last Edited on: 11/23/09 5:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 6:38 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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**Spoilers ahead**

 

Interesting cateyereader. I agree with much of your critique however I, for some reason, never really cared about the characters even though I grew to like them. I did like the lack of formula but I just couldn't get invested in the way I do with a Judith Ivory novel. She, Sherry, puts them in a life/death scenario where Bryony is forced out of her shell and then they just have tons of sex. For me, the build up is essential - again a matter of personal preference. So for example, the way that Ivory and Kinsale build that tension - once the characters consumate the relationship - its so so believable. I liked that the characters were unusually flawed - I also happen to like cheating in the plot.  So really, for me, the unusually flawed characters etc... was not at all the problem - heck I adore flawed characters - LOVED Sheridan in Seize the Fire etc.... I just never found these characters truly believable. Never felt that Leo's obsession with Byrony was fully explained. It seemed that it was some strange quirk of fate that he happen to just fall in love with her when they were children - a childhood crush that never went away. And... Bryony's love for him doesn't really seem to be based in anything other than shallow things until AFTER their experience on the battlefield. I think if the book had another 200 pages - where some of these issues could have been flushed out further, it might have worked for me.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2007
Posts: 1,028
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It was a DNF for me too but not a wall banger.  I will say she is one of the more pleasant writers to dislike....lol.  She's an intelligent writer, the story just wasn't going anywhere for me.  Very similiar to how I've felt about every by Meredith Durham. 

I did love her first 2 books though.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:56 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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That's funny, I liked Gigi a lot aside from her initial stunt with the forged letter. Camden was such an ass that I kept half-hoping Gigi would leave him, and when she joined him at the end I wondered if she was being stupid. Thomas almost seemed not to understand how well she had written Camden's vindictiveness and passive aggression.

Gigi was better than Camden, no doubt, but she was annoying too.  I did kind of wonder myself if ST realized just how reprehensible Camden's behavior was.  The guy who shows up ten years later, wanting to reconstruct his marriage was okay, but the fact that he had let ten years go by, and didn't see fit to do anything about his marriage until it becomes apparent that Gigi is ready to move on, was unforgivable, IMO.  I wanted that HEA, but I never got over being annoyed that she had to forgive him in order to get it.  What Gigi did, IMO, was bad, but not nearly bad enough to warrant what he put her through over a period of ten years.  It simply boggles the mind.   He should have gone back after the miscarriage.  He could have troubled himself to jump out of that boat in Austria, but no, he waits until she decides she wants a divorce.  IMO, all of that makes her completely tstl for choosing him at the end.  He's too much the old skool romance rat for my taste and the only thing that saves it is some amazingly evocative writing.  ST is as good at making you want that HEA as she is at convincing you that a character doesn't deserve it:P

Margaret, I don't strongly disagree with anything that you said above, but 200 more pages would have killed me:P  The problem with resolution, IMO, is the final chapter.  Less reuniting with the family & maybe a little less sack time in exchange for some time spent getting to know each other again would have made all the difference for me.  I liked the scene where they are going through their old house & how they each felt about it, but the conversation they had afterward wasn't as deep & meaningful as it should have been.  Just MHO.  I think they did come a long way on their journey together, but she cut it off too abruptly when the external conflict ended, and I wouldn't have minded if they did all of their talking & soul baring in bed, as long as they did it.  I think they did some, but it lacked the sense of a really profound closure I thought was needed.  This was primarily why I graded it down to an A-.



Last Edited on: 11/23/09 9:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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well Regina we left Sherri un-filleted after she had the sheer nerve to say she didn't like Linda Howard's Mackenzies!;) I'm still shuddering over that one!

Susanna, you are a riot.  LOL  I completely agree with Kim in that I wouldn't pick on someone who didn't like a book.  I had that dubious "honor" bestowed on me recently at Goodreads.  Not fun.  It even made me question myself.  But in the long run, we all have different tastes, different ideas of what is acceptable or interesting or believable.  Like Kim said, her books are difficult to read but FOR ME, that's an appeal.  It makes me slow down and dissect what is going on and makes me think about the story, characters and timeline. I'll be the first to admit, I'd bad about trying to impose my own 21st century morals/ideals into a historical, when I really can't because that's not the way things were then.   

While I loved NQAH, I hated Delicious.  I'm not a fan of Nora Roberts or SEP.  And that's ok.  ;-)

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Sherri, I didn't like (most of) the Mackenzies either! Over here, behind the barricade!

I also didn't care for Delicious and loved the other two. I have such a nice autographed copy of Delicious though that I'm holding on to it to give it another try someday.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 6:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2009
Posts: 1,407
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Kim said...

I did kind of wonder myself if ST realized just how reprehensible Camden's behavior was.  The guy who shows up ten years later, wanting to reconstruct his marriage was okay, but the fact that he had let ten years go by, and didn't see fit to do anything about his marriage until it becomes apparent that Gigi is ready to move on, was unforgivable, IMO.

That actually didn't bother me so much - I thought it was pretty plausible that he'd take for granted that she would be there until he was about to lose her. He lost me when he showed up - having decided that he wanted the marriage to continue - and then was verbally abusive and used sex as a weapon. There was just no excuse for his behavior, no matter what she had done, and I couldn't see a way to think he'd ever really change.

He could have troubled himself to jump out of that boat

I never thought of that! What really bugged me was when Camden realized in Copenhagen that he was being an ass, but then kept right on doing the same thing for another five years. 

Margaret, I haven't read Ivory or Kinsale, so I can't really answer you there... you are making me want to read Judith Ivory, so maybe I'll get back to you on that. :)

It seemed that it was some strange quirk of fate that he happen to just fall in love with her when they were children - a childhood crush that never went away. And... Bryony's love for him doesn't really seem to be based in anything other than shallow things until AFTER their experience on the battlefield.

Heh. I thought they were a really, really well-matched couple in terms of interests and temperament and maturity, and it was fun to watch the characters learn to see that.



Last Edited on: 11/23/09 6:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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Was it Copenhagen where they were?  I can't remember anymore.  I just know he needed to drop the floozy on his arm and get out of the damned boat:P  And go forward & "sin no more" would have been nice, yeah.  I said the same thing about letting another 5yrs go by after that incident when we were initially discussing that book here myself.  When I read NQAH and saw the 4yr separation thing, I was so relieved that it wasn't 10:P

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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I was just thinking the same thing; even posted a review.  While I found it better than some of the other Sherry Thomas novels which I HATED, she doesn't impress me AT ALL.  I think NQaH will be my last novel by her.     It was better than the others, but the heroine was way too cold & distant for me.  There was lots of sex, but the sex scenes were lacking steam and there was zero sexual tension.  That's it.  I'm done with Sherry Thomas.  No clue why others rave about her.  I just don't see it!

 

Meredith Duran, on the other hand, I adore! 



Last Edited on: 11/23/09 7:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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Kim - I completely agree with your critique and think you were much better able to describe the things I didn't like.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
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cateyereader - you must try Ivory and Kinsale. The Proposition by Ivory and Flower From the Storm are two of my very favorite romance novels.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Meredith Duran is killer.  I will never recover from Duke of Shadows - which I know a lot of people didn't love either:P  Which is okay by me.  I'm just glad to be able to find books that I love that much, and if a few other people I recommend them to get as much out of them as I did, I'm happy.  I do feel bad when I rave about something and somebody doesn't like it, but that's always a risk & I hope that we all know that.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 468
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I certainly hope no one feels badly for having recommended NQAH! My intent was not to complain or make people feel badly about their recommendations but rather to just have a discussion about the book. Heck, after reading this thread, I may have to read it again and see if maybe my first impression will be changed:-)  I'm glad I tried her and am always happy to give new authors (new to me) a try - its how I found Ivory and Kinsale and so many others. I have never read any Meredith Duran and will have to give her a try.

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