Sometimes, I receive email about books that people just loved over the moon past Sedna and back. Which is awesome! But other times, I receive rants about books that made a reader REALLY VERY UPSET. Sometimes, the subject line is, “I’m sorry to unload” which, no apologies are needed, really. Sometimes, books make us mad. That’s why we have Book Rants.
This Book Rant was written by Tam B, who was among the VERY UPSET – this time because of what she is calling Delayed Douche Syndrome.
I’ve read rants by other members of the Bitchery and have been in hysterics at the antics and crazysauce that some books have – undoubtedly enjoying the rant way more than I would the book. I actually enjoyed this book but it was when I stopped and thought about all that had happened that I was “wait a minute – that guy is a total douche!” Do we have a term for that? Delayed Douche Syndrome? Post Romance Regret? So knowing that you would understand I’ve emailed you about this book.
The book is “Where Dreams Are Born (Angelo’s Hearth)” by ML Buchman. I’ve read and really enjoy his Nightstalkers series and there was a sample at the end of a short in this series that got me curious. I was also in one of those “nothing to read despite a stacked TBR pile” moods. So I purchased this book.
One calendar. Twelve lighthouses. Two hearts.
Cassidy Knowles stands on the wind-torn bluff and clutches the calendar of lighthouses. The last gift from her father, with a dozen letters for a final year-long journey “together.” From vineyard roots, Cassidy has climbed up the food-and-wine critic ladder, leaving her rural roots far behind.
Russell Davis, #28 on the latest “most eligible” list, the last guy on the planet Cassidy wants. Fine with him. He has no desire for the driven, urban-fashionista, never-touch-nature Cassidy Knowles. He sets his dream by a calendar of lighthouses. The genesis of a sailing a journey. A journey that keeps leading him to the last woman he’d ever want.
Where can two hearts chart the same course? In the warmth around Angelo’s Hearth.
I really liked how the mistaken identity / search for the woman in the red jacket seen from the boat – looking for the sail boat idea played out. I thought it was well done that the two leads could meet and not really like one another but still be intrigued by their “lighthouse persona”. I read this book easily, finished it in practically one sitting and my first thought on finishing was “it needs an epilogue”. But then I kept thinking about the book. And that’s when I realised THE GUY IS A TOTAL ABSOLUTE DOUCHE!!!
If you have any desire to read this book please stop reading now as there are likely to be lots of spoilers.
We open with our hero having completed a photo shoot (he’s the photographer) at his studio but not feeling the moment. He knows it’s been fantastic but it’s feeling flat, something is missing. He wants something “more”. We end this scene with our hero in bed with the gorgeous blonde model, knowing he could wake her up and she’d be willing to entertain him, but he’s thinking ‘meh”.
So what does our hero do? He shuts down his immensely successful NYC company, employing a number of people with zero notice. He’s that kind of considerate type of guy. Suffers through a Thanksgiving with his parents who politely convey their disappointment in him and moves to Seattle to spend Christmas with his best friend Angelo. Angelo is expected to come up with an idea to fulfill this something “more” requirement and finally in desperation, throws a calendar of lighthouses at his head and tells him to buy a boat and sail to see all of them. This, of course, is the action taken.
Angelo is the son of Russell’s family’s chef. Yes, his family is wealthy, but he has earned his OWN money since high school. Russell’s parents educated Angelo along side Russell and Angelo’s mother (Nana) taught Russell to cook as well as her own son who pursues this and in the book has his own restaurant. I get the impression we’re meant to be feel “poor little rich boy” about Russell, seeking out solace with the cook and her son whilst his parents ignore him. But then you meet his parents and discover that he THINKS HIS MOTHER IS A GOLD DIGGER. Yep, where’s the love? Moreover, when you discover this little gem, which following Russell’s thought pattern is right before he decides his mother is slut who slept with his father on the first date (she didn’t), we find that he has this opinion due to his mother BEING NICE to a high school girlfriend, which meant he couldn’t dump her as intended and pursue whoever it was that he wanted, he had to keep her around for another few months before dumping her. His parents are still married, happy and seem like great parents. The contrast between his thoughts on them and the way they are portrayed is complexing to say the least.
When Russell moves out West he actually has a girlfriend of sorts (the blonde model) and he invites her out for Valentine’s. He flies her first class, puts her up at the penthouse, greets her with bulk red roses and wines and dines her and spoils her the entire time she’s there. Never once…not once…does it occur to him that all of these actions might lead to some romantic expectations on her behalf. Nope, it completely passes him by. It actually has to be pointed out by Angelo that a long term girlfriend having that much attention lavished upon her at Valentine’s Day just MIGHT make an assumption or two. And yes, this is our hero.
By contrast we have our heroine Cassidy. Cassidy is a food and wine critic, with more of a wine speciality. She was raised by her vintner father and has been taught about wines from a very young age. Her mother died when Cassidy was quite young and her father has recently died. He left her a calendar (the same lighthouse one) and 12 letters to be read at each lighthouse each month. Cassidy was based professionally in NYC but realised it was a boys club and instead did an end run around them all by moving back to Seattle and getting national coverage from other sources and international coverage as well. She is heading places career wise and she has worked her ass off to get there. Cassidy likes quality clothes and $500 boots and if a girl can afford to treat herself, then she damned well deserves to. Cassidy also has two best friends (from college) who are equally contrasting and successful. Jo, who makes partner at her law firm during the story and Perrin who has a clothing store that I gather is a mix of quirky vintage and latest grabs and all of it is fabulous.
The two leads officially meet (although they’ve noticed each other prior) courtesy of a blind date. I have to admit I was a bit confused as to why it was needed (other than as a plot device). Cassidy was there in a reviewer capacity. Russell was there as a favour to his restauranteur best friend with orders to be charming. He’s not. Instead he notices her boots (he photographed them for their campaign) and writes her off as all that he’s trying to get away from and gives her attitude to spare. Ends the meal by storming out after throwing money down on the table.
Did I mention he’s a douche?
I’ll spare you the play by play of how these two get together and realise that each is the other that they were noticing at the various lighthouses. That part of the story is quite charming in its way. And I will admit that our hero has some really nice moments – just not many.
Let’s get to the penultimate scene. Cassidy’s genius with wines, or more so her palate, has been recognised. She now has wineries and wine groups offering her a position to work with their wines from scratch. This is a dream job. Well, dream jobs (plural) as the California wine region has made two offers, Italians from Cinque Terre make an offer and the Germans do as well (I might have missed one there). So she’s reaching a career pinnacle and is in Cinque Terre by invitation to consider their offer and enjoy the countryside. To cap off this success her boyfriend, Russell, is flying over to see her and spend a few days.
Cassidy has even hired a Ferrari for him to drive. Yes, this girl has class.
During their time together Russell first tells Cassidy that he loves her. But can he actually say it outright – no of course not. Here’s the line…
“I’m sorry, Cassidy. I know you’re incredible and I love you, but that rates a “Oh. My.” There’s just no way around it.” (They’re talking about an amazing old lighthouse on the Italian coast.)
That is the ONLY time we get an I love you from this guy and we’re practically at the end of the book. It is shortly after this point when our hero realises that his girlfriend is getting all these amazing offers (because she is that good) that “he didn’t want Cassidy’s life. No more than she wanted his. And where did that leave them?”
But before you go feeling any sympathy… HE HASN’T EVEN EXPLAINED ANY OF THIS TO HER!!! Through out this entire relationship, he has never once explained about NYC and the “more” and the “meh” and what his future plans were and what he wants in life and where he sees the relationship going. NOR has he asked Cassidy what she wants. HE JUST ASSUMES. And we all know what they say about that
So what does our tortured hero do, you may ask. He of course picks a fight with his lady love and ends it with a disappearing act. But don’t distress he leaves a note.
You are really going places. I’m happy for you. Unfortunately, they aren’t places I want to go.
(Blah blah blah about stuff like cars and cameras.)
Best of luck with your future
What. A. Guy!
So then a month later Cassidy is at the final lighthouse, and the letter from her father (and he’s dropped some bombs on her too) basically says love and family is everything that you need. She looks up sees Russell’s boat. Cassidy runs to the end of the dock and flags him down. Now it should be no surprise to Russell that she’s there. Yet, does he dock and have a cha?. No, he holds the boat just off from the dock, too far for her to jump and effectively makes her beg. Throughout this entire scene he’s saying I’m leaving and she’s pandering to him.
Then the book ends.
So whilst I was caught up in this story and I’ll admit that I was, I was kind of okay with him, but when I took a minute to actually think about his actions and behaviour, I couldn’t believe this was a romance hero! He didn’t change during the book. He didn’t adjust anything one iota for love or for his love. He doesn’t have a single emotional discussion aside from the post-Valentine’s Day revelation chat with Angelo. He says “I love you” once.
And our heroine, who is a stand out woman, settles. I’m sure it’s meant to seem romantic that she “gave up the angel’s share” (a wine term about losing wine via the oak but becoming better as a result) and came up with a solution that will suit them both. But for me a true romance is where the couple works together to get to their future. So they might both sacrifice either emotionally or materially, they might overcome obstacles, real or emotional but at the core they do it TOGETHER. This couple didn’t do that. And when I had time to reflect and realise that, it was then that I was disappointed in the couple, the book and the author.
So whilst I will read and recommend the Nightstalker series by this author – Buchman obviously does better with military, missions and romance as an element – I don’t believe that I will be reading book two in this series about Angelo and Jo. I just could not face her giving up being a law partner and whilst I have no idea if that happens, given this book it’s a possibility.
Thank you for letting me vent about my Delayed Douche experience.