I’ve decided to start doing book reviews, because I am all kinds of a bibliophile. I’ve had sex dreams involving Brad Pitt in a library and what I remember most vividly is the library. I just love me some books, people.
I’ve decided to start with Maybe This Time (MTT) for a couple of reasons. First, it is a recent release. Second, I worship and adore the snarky dialogue inherent in a Crusie book. Which makes me a long-time, foaming-at-the-mouth Crusie fan. She writes strong feminist heroines who have unapologetic sex and live happily ever after (HEA). For that alone I would want to kiss her with deep tongue, but her books are also funny and sweet and romantic. See? Crusie fan. Also, this is her first solo effort work in a few years, so I was eagerly anticipating it. Finally, it got a mediocre grade over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, a blog of which I am a big-ass fan, but occasionally fails to understand the magnificence of all writings by my pet authors. That offends my partisan little soul. Plus, I thought the humdrum grade was incorrect, since their interpretation of the book was different from mine, and thus wrong. Because I am The Fokker, dammit. I always get the Last Word.
I will also gives you the heads up that here there be spoilers. Seriously. If you don’t like spoilers you need to flee, screaming and waving your arms the whole way. Moreover, I haven’t done a “book review” in 1000 years so it’s probably ponderous. For those who are still with me, prepare thyself for spoilers.
MTT is a re-writing of Henry James’ famous ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. This gave me some initial trepidation, because that was not a happy book. It is about a governess who is sent to care for two orphans, a little girl and her brother, and she winds up in a haunted country house with two malevolent ghosts who are tormenting/processing the kids. Horrifically, the little boy dies in the end. How in the shit would Crusie rework so there was the HEA I craved? Plus, it wasn’t going to be a romance; it was a ghost story with a romantic sub-plot. I knew the subplot would thus have a HAE, but what about the rest of the book?
The main characters in the original all had (frankly, improved) counterparts in MTT, with Crusie adding some extras who were scene-stealing awesome. Plus, the dialogue was awesomeness with awesome sauce and the romantic subplot was wonderful. Also, she scared the shit out of me in a couple of creepy scenes, so good work.
The complaints about the book in the SBTB review were often centered around the fact that most people didn’t know it wasn’t a romance novel. It was a ghost story. So they were legitimately unhappy the romance took a backseat. But there was a complaint where I felt they had missed the boat. They complained that Andie (the Governess) did not pay enough attention to Carter (the boy; Miles in the original). Yet that was one of the themes to MTT — ignoring someone important, not meaning to hurt them, discovering you hurt them, and then having a chance to make it right. Andie did pay less attention to Carter. She was focused on the much squeakier-wheel, Alice (the girl; Flora in the original). It wasn’t until near the end of the book that she heeded all the blatant warnings and jumped in to save Carter from a ghost. And save him she did. No dead kid in this book, so I liked it better than the original (take that classic writing!). Anyway, I felt that critiquing the book because Andie didn’t pay enough attention to Carter missed the point and was thus unfair.
Also, many readers didn’t like the fact the ghosts could possess people. I didn’t “like” it either but it was what happened in the original writing. So it kind of needed to happen. I’m calling that complaint unfair as well, since it was part of the homage to The Turn of the Screw.
There were two things I did feel were legitimate critiques. First, the male ghost was largely absent until the end when he became central to the plot. I didn’t like that. I was focused on the female ghost as the antagonist and didn’t enjoy the sudden shift. Plus, the female ghost was way creepier. My second critique is dead aunt May. She was also a ghost in the house, and was an addition to the original story. I hated that character. Ironically, I think I loathed her because she was 3-dimensional and both good & bad. I wanted her to be one or the other. Or to be bad and then redeem herself. Instead, she made a bad end that seemed somehow ‘unfinished’. It freaked me out nicely and all, but still … I just didn’t like May. I need, in my heart, for the written character to offer me the resolution so often denied me in real life. It’s like the HEA. It doesn’t always happen in real life, but I want it in my damn books. May took some of the H out of my HEA feelings.
However, MTT, on the whole was a really excellent read and a page-turner extraordinaire. It was scary as hell. The romantic subplot was as juicy and delicious as ripe peach. I highly recommend this book!
Rating: Oh hell yes, buy it!