I’ve spent the last few days knocked on my backside by Hella Flu, and in that time, I watched Vanilla Ice renovate a house (he crunked a pool, made a bathroom bling, and told me about single celled micro-organisms, and about encephalitis. No, really, I wasn’t having a fever hallucination. Vanilla Ice said “encephalitis” to me) and read a lot of novellas. I didn’t have the attention span or energy to read an entire book, so I was in a serious novellaly-minded mood. “Novellaly” is my new favorite word, too.
One of the books I picked up was The Guy Next Door, which will be available digitally and in paper come February. I flipped right to the Victoria Dahl story because I heard her tweeting about how it’s part of her new series that’s set in a microbrewery in Colorado, and I was in the mood for silly, sexy contemporary humor.
Y’all. I am so pissed. I’m not pissed at anyone in particular, though I may be glaring at the book cover a lot. I’m just pissed. It’s not a novella. It’s a prequel. It’s a tease. It was SO NOT WHAT I WANTED that when I got to the next page expecting more story and got the copyright information, I made a really strange noise, somewhere between a curse and a growl. Novellas are not prequels. Prequels are not novellas, and should not be sold as such. GRRRR. That makes me angry. ANGRY. ANGRY SARAH SMASH.
But what really pisses me off is that it was enjoyable and thought provoking, even while it was meanly teasing me. Beth Cantrell works at a sex shop and is embarrassed about her taste in very preppy, straight-laced men, while her coworkers are drawn to more edgy, outlandishly tattooed and dangerous-looking men. Beth’s sexually educated intellectually-speaking, but sexually fearful, as she’s bashful about her tastes in men as they contrast with her employment and her public image – yes, I had a hard time with that part, too. And particularly this line: “The men who asked her out were looking for a sexual savant. And deep in her heart, Beth wanted to be seduced. She was an old-school-feminist failure.” Yes, because feminism of any school is not at all about owning your own sexual preferences and is always about grabbing guys by the balls and leading them around, quickly. In comfortable shoes. No, wait, that’s lesbians. I get my stereotypes mixed up.
The hero, Eric Donovan, meets Beth at a local business convention, where their booths are nearby one another. He notices her, and tries to avoid being distracted by her adorable hotness while pouring samples and doing all the business and administrative stuff he does as part of the brewery. He is, for characterization’s sake, “the responsible brother,” and feels a little stifled by his role and responsibilities, so when Beth mistakes him for his brother Jamie, who has a definite playboy reputation, he stops himself from correcting her a few times, eager to experience for once the illicit thrill of a no-strings relationship. Yeah, because that always works in a romance novel or novella.
The story starts out in a confusion of expectations and I liked watching the characters slowly become a little more comfortable with themselves, and I should have seen there was too much going on to resolve in a short space but still. It really was like the opening chapters of a novel, and you know that rage of the thwarted romance reader denied her happy ending? Yeah. I got that rage RIGHT HERE. DAMMIT.
I haven’t read the Donovan story, though that’s on my radar to read in a hurry – nothing like reading an anthology backwards, right? I want to read something that finishes with a happy ending, not a tease for more. It’s a good thing I’m reading this anthology out of order, or I’d be even more irritable.
Has that ever happened to you? Does it bother you if a novella is not a complete story? Or do you look for the book that follows more eagerly because of it?