Book Review

Book Rant: The Right Bride by Jennifer Ryan

Book Rant: Cartoon woman holding phone with bubble that reads Unleashed Fury Goes HereSometimes, I receive email about books that people adored and could not wait to tell me about. Other times, I receive rants about books that made a reader HELLAMAD. Sometimes, the subject line is, “I knew you would understand!” Yup, sure do. Sometimes, books make us mad. That’s why we have Book Rants.

This Book Rant was written by Brenda, who was among the HELLAMAD.


I received an ARC of The Right Bride, by Jennifer Ryan.  For the first time in a long time,  I did not, could not finish my free read.  I got about two thirds into the train wreck and finally snapped myself out of the apparent mind set I had tranced myself into that seemed to be…must…finish…book.  This book is a mass o’ mess from the front cover on, and now I need a trance to erase the time and memory I had committed to reading such a crappy presented narrative and plot.  And the worst part of this insanely bad book?  It is a romance trying to disguise a contest for stupidest protagonist ever in literature.  And between the hero and the heroine…it is truly a draw.

Right from the cover I felt the dark forces creeping towards me.  No, this isn’t a paranormal, but there is kind of that Alexandra Ivy hot supernatural studmuffin thing going on with the model on the cover.  Plus, there is the subtitle, “Book Three:  The Hunted Series.”  Turns out that the series title is totally at odds with the actual premise of the book, as there is no one hunted or on the prowl.  Just some idiot looking for a brain and a woman looking for a measurable emotional IQ.  After reading this asinine book I decided that the model on the cover has perfectly captured the old cliche, “Well, at least you’re pretty.”

Next thing that caught my eye:  there are 49 chapters.  This thing reads kind of like a Harlequin Presents, so you have to figure maybe 250 print pages, maybe 265 tops.  49 freakin’ chapters.

Book The Right Bride The flimsy plot is as follows:  widower Cameron Shaw has decided he needs to marry to provide a mother for his five year old daughter, Emma.  He has decided upon Shelly.  Actually, Shelly kind of sealed the deal by announcing that she is pregnant, so Cameron is manning up and putting a ring on it.  In the meantime, Cameron meets Marti, a lovely and lively lass who, in true Elizabeth Gilbert fashion, has just returned to the States after a year-long around the world sail.  On her own yacht.  Of course.  Boring story condensed:  she meets, charms the little girl, has questionably consensual really boring sex with Cameron.  Twice.  Shelly is not pregnant, and lies incessantly about it.  Marti does actually become pregnant, and is accused of lying about it.  There’s a gazillionaire dying, assorted friends from previous stories, truly soap opera inspired dramatics, and…I am not sure, because I did not finish.  I had to go scrub a toilet.  Then clean my oven. Because either of those seemed more fun than reading The Right Bride.

Amazingly,  there isn’t even a point where I thought, well, this could be good.  It blows chunks from the getgo with a really badly presented first chapter.  Oddly, it’s from the point of view of Shelly, the poorly drawn, cliche ridden, gold-digging bad girl with no discernible heart.  The incredibly heavy hand of character description proves that she is greedy, selfish, conniving, and, in an odd touch, bulimic.  And the bulimia is not used to make her sympathetic or to explain, at least partly, why she is such a complete bitch.  It is the icing on the cake of just see how truly awful Shelly is.

We are then introduced to Cameron, who is quite possibly the most brainless hero ever written.  The IQ…it is just not there.  Which makes it totally unbelievable that he is the President of Merrick Enterprises, a biggo business that does…something.  As biggo businesses do.  Cameron is about to take Shelly out to dinner for the purpose of introducing her to Emma, his 5 year old plot moppet daughter.   Cameron is a widower, and in a huge emotional craphole because in the course of a one night I-need-to-get-laid-because-I’m-a-widower stand with Shelly, he found himself well and truly stuck with a girlfriend.  A girlfriend he is too passive aggressive and stupid to jettison from his life.

Let’s be clear here:  he doesn’t really like Shelly, his friends don’t like Shelly, and, in thinking of the graciousness and tact of his dead wife, he reflects, “Shelly hadn’t shown that side of herself.  If she even had it in her.  Sometimes he suspected her of having a hidden agenda.”   So of course he calls her, tells her that he is sorry, but he has mistaken his feelings for her and cannot expose his impressionable daughter to a parody of a romance.  Not really.  That’s what would have happened in a book that made sense.  In this story, he has to stick with this planned casual dinner, because he made reservations.  And God knows those are set in stone.  He stares out into the night,  into the moonlit waters and catches, in the deepening night, the blink of a signal from some kind of yachty thing.

Meanwhile, on the yachty thing, Marti, our heroine with low requirements in a partner’s brain power, stares into San Fransisco, home after a year of eat, pray, and loving her way around the globe carefree and unattached.  And apparently with limitless credit cards.  She is a prolific children’s book author and illustrator, and also runs a world wide conglomerate that apparently makes “land deals” because that is the only kind of information you are given.  She stares up the harbor at the office building, unable to glance away…

This actually means nothing, because she is still out kind of far and it’s dark.  So it’s time for some series exposition.  Numerous people are named and quickly sketched in the most nondescript and clunky manner ever:

“Aunt Elizabeth was married to his boss’s brother-in-law.  Cameron had become close with Jenna when she had taken control as CEO of Merrick International several years ago and made him president.  Emma was just a baby. He and Emma had moved into a penthouse next door to Jenna and her husband, Jack.   Jack’s brother, Sam, lived with Jenna and Jack at the time and they spent many evenings together, especially after Jenna gave birth to twin sons.  They were all like one big happy family now.”

Seriously.  I read that three times before it made sense.  And that is the sum total of any kind of catch up to the framework of the series so far.  Not that heinous stupidity needs much of a set up.

Anyhow, Cameron, Shelly, bulemia, plot-moppet, and Eat Pray Love.  Here’s where things really sail into total WTF territory.   Cameron takes Shelly out to dinner to introduce her to Emma, the plot moppet.  He doesn’t love her, or really like her that much, but…sex.  So he decides to move ahead with the woman who asks about all of his friend’s financial status, is rude to his daughter, and unkind to everyone she meets, because (and I am not making this up) she promises to wear that special pink negligee he likes.  Well, then.  A daughter with a future that will be spent in massive therapy is certainly worth THAT.

Anyhow, the big intro dinner is a disaster.  Shelly is rude to all of Cameron’s friends, and offers a small glimpse of the hellacious step mother she would be.  She berates Emma, basically for being 5.  In the midst of shrieking at les moppet,  she attracts the attention of Marti, also in the restaurant for dinner.  Marti’s soft heart can’t stand to see a child mistreated and she steps in, comforting Emma and generally leading a public mob against Shelly and her nefarious designs on anyone with money.  Cameron is finally waking up to the nightmare he is walking into, he’s coming to his senses, the dark forces are receding…and Shelly, feeling all those rich people perks slipping away, announces that she is pregnant.

I really truly absolutely hate the fake pregnancy complication in any kind of storyline, and it’s handled atrociously here, even by the low bar I have already set for this book.  And this pivotal point is what truly proves that Cameron is as dumb as a sack of hair.  Any thinking person would respond to that announcement with something along the lines of a demand to see the stick, medical report, dead rabbit, or whatever was used to determine that something is indeed swimming in a murky gene pool.  Cameron yackity yacks briefly about needing some proof but the noises are minimal and drowned out by the swishing noises of the last of his common sense being flushed away.

Yada yada yada, this is pretty much the book.  He falls for Marti the perfect and proceeds to treat her like crap. Shelly is a bitch who dodges every single demand for proof that she is pregnant. Cameron’s friends all, without fail, point out that Shelly is lying and there is no baby, and everyone whines.  A wedding date is set, and there is also a benevolent gazillionaire who is dying and trying to make things work out for Cameron and Marti.   There is a disastrous accident aboard a yacht that involves Emma being tossed into shark infested waters and Marti diving in to save her, after Shelly abandons her one responsibility of keeping an eye on Emma while they are fishing.

At this point, this is a bad book.  Badly plotted, badly executed, bad, bad, bad.  What made it a heinous book are the following two plot points:

1)  One evening, Marti agrees to babysit Emma while Cameron goes out.  When he comes home, Marti and Emma are asleep in his bed.  He climbs in bed with them and goes to sleep.  Marti wakes up in the morning just in time to find Emma out of the room and Cameron, naked, about to slide his joystick into her Xbox.  I have never, one time, read the “she woke up from a normal sleep in the midst of boinking” scenario and found it remotely believable, and this scene only reinforces my intense dislike of that cliche.  It’s borderline consensual and insulting within the framework of a romance.  Even if one of the partners has a vacuum between his ears.  This proceeds a badly written love scene that mercifully only lasts a few purple paragraphs.

And you know what happens from “I Woke Up Boinking” sex: a real pregnancy.  Of course.  And when Marti tells Cameron, he accuses her of lying.  Because that’s what women do.  Except for Shelly.  There must be magic fairies and unicorns in that hoohoo because it’s well and truly got Cameron hyp-mo-tized.  This barfalicious bit of tomfoolerie is followed by:

2)  Marti enters the house in time to see Shelly and Emma, fighting at the top of a long flight of stairs.   Marti runs up the stairs, tugs Emma away from Shelly, and is pushed and falls down the stairs.  Cameron walks in to find Marti, shoulder and knee dislocated, concussed, unable to move, in a heap at the bottom of the stairs and he runs past her and up the stairs to comfort Shelly, who must be stressed from the ordeal of…pushing a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs.  Shelly screams that Marti tried to kill her, and Cameron pats her on the head and escorts her to her room to rest after this horrible event, leaving the pregnant wounded woman lying in a twisted pile on the floor.  Someone arranges for an ambulence,  Marti is admitted to the hospital, and Cameron visits her long enough to scream at her for trying to hurt his poor fake pregnant fiancee.  And this, my friends, is where I closed the book.  And frankly, I feel as stupid as Cameron comes across for reading it this far.

I can suspend a lot of disbelief if the idea is presented in an entertaining way.  There is nothing entertaining about this book.  I am assuming, as it is a romance, that Marti and Cameron end up together and that is what makes Marti every bit as idiotic as Cameron is.  At the point I quit reading, I found myself rooting for Shelly, and that’s just messed up.

I’ve read some bad books, but in some kind of alternate universe where March Madness brackets are set up to determine the worst bad book ever, I may have found the champion in The Right Bride.

I asked Brenda if she ultimately finished it, and this was her reply: 

I did not finish it, because to see Marti end up with a guy who had gone way beyond the acceptable booboo line just would make me sad.  I just could not stand the hero in The Right Bride.  I have read well-written stories with heroes who left such toxic messes that all around them wore hazmat suits, and somehow the passage of their redemption is presented in a way that the reader buys it (i.e. Lisa Kleypas’ The Devil in Winter).

I have never plowed through a story where the guy messes up to this scale and remains the hero.  No fairy godmother, no Clinton Kelly makeover, no spin doctor is going to ever make his actions forgivable.

There is a great collection of four Shakespeare presentations called Shakespeare Retold, in which four of his most famous plays are modernized.  One is Much Ado About Nothing, with Damien Lewis as Benedict.  This is my favorite Shakespeare, and this presentation updates it nicely.  My only quibble with the play is that Hero ever took Claudio back, seeing as how he called her a whore in front of God and seven others on their wedding day at the altar.  In the update, Hero, (played by Billie Piper) tells Claudio she doesn’t think she can forgive him, maybe someday, but that the two of them?  That is done.  Because she does have a brain and self respect and he is a weenie.

And that is what makes The Right Bride the worst book I have read, and Cameron the losiest of the losers.  It’s my letter and I can create words.


The Right Bride is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks and is currently available at some retailers for $1.99.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Tam B. says:

    OMG – I can’t believe that got publish let alone be allowed to be inflicted on an unwary public.

    I am making note now in BIG letters on my “books to buy / check out” list that I have to NEVER EVER buy this book and to treat this author as radioactive. 

    I don’t blame you for quitting.  No book is worth that.

  2. 2
    Krystal says:

    “Dumb as a sack of hair” made me spit my coffee out.  Definitely on the do not read list.

  3. 3

    The book sounds like a hot mess of WTFery but the rant was pure gold.

  4. 4
    Gry Heidi Nordhagen says:

    I wonder – is that “I wake up boinking” scene bad enough to qualify for the Bad Sex Award?

    And thanks for the warning about this book!

  5. 5
    Lizzie says:

    Hmmmmm…. sounds like this book might be ripe for a grovel scene.  Those are always my favorite.  Someone, please tell us…. dare I hope for an emotionally rich, cleverly executed Grovel at the End?  It might make the book worthwhile!

  6. 6
    Jen says:

    Great book rant!

    OK, now I desperately want to know how the hero even TRIES to make up for this. (As if one could make up for being a fucking psycho. Sounds like Shelley deserves him.) Anyone out there actually read this one to the end? Because I sure as hell am not purchasing it or slogging through it myself!

  7. 7
    Talia says:

    I choose to believe this story ends with Marti snatches Emma away in the night and the two of them sailing away to some island paradise forever and ever. (I would have been out the instant he put up with Shelly mistreating his daughter. I can put up with a lot of terrible hero behavior but that is my hard NOPE line.)

  8. 8

    home after a year of eat, pray, and loving her way around the globe carefree and unattached.  And apparently with limitless credit cards.

    This made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing your cathartic rant.

    To me the most upsetting thing about this book was eating disorders as a lame plot device. It’s a serious illness, and not a scarlet letter of evil bitch behavior.

  9. 9
    Marti says:

    I’m bummed that the one time I see a book with a female character with the same name & spelling as me, it’s such a disaster. At least Marti was the semi-sane, almost cool one?

  10. 10

    I read the first two books in this series and the first book, Saved by the Rancher, was just as much a hot mess as this book was.  Except the first book involved an abusive husband, a runaway wife, and a rancher. *shaking head* Because a rancher fits right…

     

  11. 11
    Jennie says:

    Wait, so she’s asleep and he’s trying to bonk her? And they’re not already in a bonking relationship? How is that borderline consensual? That’s just rape.

  12. 12
    Michele says:

    “Right from the cover I felt the dark forces creeping towards me.”

    Right from this line I knew I was going to love this rant. Thanks, Brenda!!! :-D

  13. 13
    trudy says:

    the weird thing is, I actually could see this happening in real life. You give those Shellys of the world enough rope and they won’t let go.  And sadly, there are a lot of men with boxes of rocks for brains and fluid lines on sleep boinking. The most unrealistic part of the story was that someone is rich enough to sail around the world only to come home and be a doormat for some dufus.

  14. 14

    Oh, I love these rants! Besides the atrocious plot, just reading the first few pages of the book… this novel is suffering from a lot of “telling” and not “showing.” That’s usually a bad sign. Sounds like the book also covered the major romance tropes too: fake pregnancy, misunderstanding leads to continuous conflict, cute moppet kid that wants them to get together, etc. Please PLEASE tell me it included an isolated cabin in a snowstorm somewhere too! LOL

    Sorry you had to suffer through all those chapters, but it produced a rant that was hilarious! Thanks!

  15. 15
    Liz says:

    This sounds just like a storyline from General Hospital.  The characters are only slightly different: Shelly is Britt, a doctor whose parents are sociopaths and so she too is a sociopath.  Cameron is Patrick, a widower, whose wife isn’t actually dead and is being held captive by Brit’s mother (not that Brit knows this).  Marti is Sabrina, a nurse, who won over Patrick’s little girl, Emma, long before getting Patrick’s heart.  When Patrick finally realized that Brit is a total bitch, he dumped her for Sabrina, but Brit wasn’t willing to take this lying down and shows up heavily pregnant at a big hospital function.  She is now claiming she has the same thing that Kate Middleton had at the beginning of her pregnancy.  Patrick, somehow, believes her, but Sabrina and her bff are working to prove that she’s lying, which of course she is.  Sabrina also believes that Brit isn’t having Patrick’s baby—since she’s an OB-GYN she could knock herself up with the help of one of her patients’ embryos.

    I can’t stand this storyline, so I’m really glad I didn’t try to read this book.

  16. 16
    GM says:

    The guy on the cover looks like a Baldwin brother, which makes the ick factor go up even more. I admit, I’m curious to know how it ends.

  17. 17
    suzanne noll says:

    Love this rant!!! I completely identify with Brenda, having wasted too many hours on very poorly written books myself.

  18. 18
    HJ says:

    I’m afraid I couldn’t even finish the rant – you lost me at the quoted catch-pup paragraph.  it’s not you Brenda, it’s her, the author.  Oh dear!

  19. 19
    Karenmc says:

    Loved the rant, and am relieved to know that GH’s Robin isn’t dead (I don’t even watch the show, but I remember her when she was the most charming little daughter of Robert and Anna, two whacked-out, hilarious former spies).

  20. 20
    Liz says:

    Karenmc, Robin is very much alive, but the only person who knows is Robert and he’s in a coma.

  21. 21
    chacha1 says:

    Thank you for this!  It is absolutely the kind of book that I would be highly unlikely to pick up, even in the absence of rant … but I truly love the rant.

  22. 22
    Rebecca says:

    A minor note in this symphony of WTF but Cameron climbs into bed, naked, with Marti AND HIS FIVE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER?  I’m glad she’s out of the bed (and presumably room) before the questionably consensual sleep sex occurs, but does it occur to anyone else that poor Emma may need years of therapy just for that?  A five year old who has lost her mother and is otherwise traumatized may want to sleep in her father’s bed.  A five year old whose (naked?) father pushes her out of the room with the words “run along honey, I want to screw the sitter before she wakes up” is probably going to be even more traumatized?

  23. 23
    JMM says:

    Mrs. Giggles wrote a review of this! I’d quote it, but I don’t know if that’s “legal” here. Let’s just say she loved it about as much as you did. Also, her comments about Marti vs Shelley were good.

  24. 24
    Vasha says:

    Here’s the link to Mrs. Giggles.

  25. 25
    roserita says:

    Re “Aunt Elizabeth was married to his boss’s brother-in-law.”  Is that one of those puzzles that end with “who owns the zebra?”

  26. 26
    Iola says:

    The cover would have been a turn-off for me. I like my man clean-shaven. He does look like the kind of man who think’s it’s OK to bonk the babysitter. But he doesn’t look the kind to be a widower with a 5-year-old daughter.

    Love the line about Billie Piper!

  27. 27
    Bertha Mason says:

    I misread the sentence above and thought Cameron boinked a baby into Marti in Emma’s bed. *shudder* Glad I looked back and saw this wasn’t the case, but still didn’t diminish the somewhat rapey-ness of it. Poor Emma. The salary of her mogul daddy and Marti’s unlimited credit cards combined couldn’t pay for enough therapy!

  28. 28
    Emily A. says:

    First of all thanks for a wonderful laughter-inducing review.
    I don’t know how this was published. Sometimes I read things even book rants and think I must not be the target audience for this stuff. I can’t imagine who the target audience is for this.
    Rebecca (comment #22) had some really good points.

    Also I think Shelley sounds really dumb too! How is she going to explain that’s there no baby after 9 months, (and that’s assuming she pull off faking doctor’s visits and her physical condition.) How hard would it be to really get pregnant and then have something real to hold over his head. Really! If you have to be a gold-digging shrew, be a smart gold digging shrew! This book sounds bad, I hope you find something good to read next. Happy reading!

  29. 29
    Mims says:

    LOL @ Roserita!

    I had to read this book after reading this rant and the rant is spot on. 

  30. 30
    blodeuedd says:

    Ok now I wanna lead a mob and kick Cameron’s ass

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