Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Audiobook Review: Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Earlier this year, I reviewed The Great Escape, also by Phillips.  When I was between audiobooks last month, I was excited to see that this one was available from FLP.  It's even part of the same series as The Great Escape, which I enjoyed.

From Goodreads:
R.S.V.P. to the most riotous wedding of the year . . . 

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States. 

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends. 

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache. 

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend's wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say "I don't," Meg becomes the most hated woman in town—a town she's stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure she can survive on her own wits. What's the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.
Having enjoyed the other book, I expected to be equally caught up in this one.  It's also a romance novel and follows the same traditional romance plot line.  Unlike The Great Escape, however, I thought this one was almost unbearable.  I finished, but barely.  Things I hated about the writing: the characterization (sloppy and one dimensional), the plot line (boring and cliche), and the dialogue (totally unbelievable).  Honestly, I probably would have given some of these flaws a pass, given that I expected it to be a bubblegum read, but in light of the problematic content, I was just plain unforgiving of the writing.  And speaking of the problematic content...

Entertainment Value
I can't count the number of cringe-worthy romance tropes in the book.  Here are a few of the worst:

  • For the first half of the book at least, the male main character, Ted, hates the female main character, Meg.  He shows this by purposefully humiliating her at any given opportunity, including leering at and commenting on her unclothed body, which he sees when a mattress falls on top of her and she is forced to squirm her way out from underneath.  
  • Ted, in an attempt to seal a business deal, basically whores out Meg to an unscrupulous and sexually aggressive man.  The "bad guy"'s behavior includes unwanted groping and touching, including pressing his erection against our female lead while dancing.  Meg, who is trapped in the small town with no money, no friends, and no real place to stay, feels obligated to continue pretending to like this man and Ted doesn't make any attempts to stop it, despite repeatedly seeing her in distress and fighting against this man's physical advances..
  • This culminates in a scene in which Meg is flat-out assaulted.  While skinny dipping alone in a remote area, the "bad guy" approaches her, strips, and swims out into the water where he grabs her.  She's terrified and not sure whether or not he will rape her.  They are interrupted, and she escapes, but, despite her explicit fear that the man would rape her, and the fact that he physically assaulted her, she doesn't call the police or even tell anyone.  There are no lasting consequences either for the man who assaulted her or for Meg herself, who quickly and easily brushes things off and continues with life without any lingering fear or anxiety.  
It was the assault that really clenched things for me.  Up to that point, I had found the main characters to be unlikable and unsympathetic, particularly Ted.  Meg was totally helpless and spent more time running into Ted in her underwear than anyone could count.  It seemed like he stumbled across her in some state of undress in almost every scene.  Her embarrassment is played as erotic, which was squicky to me.  The sexual assault(s) on her from our "bad guy" and the way they were played off as casual and having no lasting effect on Meg made me angry.  

Long story short - I was not entertained, I was annoyed and angry.

No complaints here.  The narrator does a fine job and there's nothing to report as either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

I don't recommend.  And despite my happy first experience with the author, I'm not sure I'll pick anything up from her again.  I was just so turned off by the use of sexual assault as a romantic/plot motivator and the way it was treated so casually by the characters.  And also the fact that I thought most of the characters, including the main characters, were pretty much horrible people.  Just no.

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