Book Review

Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros

DNF

Title: Goodnight, Tweetheart
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Publication Info: Gallery 2010
ISBN: 9781439188156
Genre: Contemporary/Other

Book CoverI wanted to like this book. I like epistolary novels, and I really like epistolary novels involving technology. I liked Meg Cabot’s “The Boy Next Door,” which is largely told via email, even with the weird part where the villain is running down the stairs and the heroine is on her laptop in the stairwell typing that the villain is running down the stairs. OMG… pick your laptop up and run, girl!

I also have a major soft spot for the section at the back of Dave Barry’s “Dave Barry in Cyberspace,” where he wrote what I presume is a fictional chat encounter that leads to romance—after a woman creates an AOL chat room called “Can Actually Spell.” The romance in chat lines between MsPtato and RayAdverb is one of my favorites, even though it’s jokey and short and deals with infidelity. The format was as much a part of the developing story as the chat dialogue itself.

I like Teresa Medeiros’ books, as a rule. Some of them are among my most-favoritest-ever, which is another reason why I kept giving this book another try, over and over and over. I wanted to like this book. I kept trying to read it and I kept running into reasons to stop.

The heroine has cats named Willow Tum Tum and Buffy the Mouse Slayer… identical to the names of author Teresa Medeiros’ cats, who are both regular characters in her own tweetstream. I really, really, really dislike it when the author and the heroine can’t be distinguished from one another for any reason, and this was too cutesy and too much reality.

There’s the “View from my laptop” as tweeted by the heroine, another hallmark of Medeiros’ tweetstream.

The heroine quotes things that Teresa Medeiros has said, most notably a line from her CNN.com article about defining the hero. The heroine says her ideal hero is a man with a moral core that would “rush into a burning building to rescue a basket of kittens.” Now, Medeiros has used this line elsewhere, and that’s not a big deal, but coming out of the mouth of her fictional heroine… too mixed up with reality for me.

Even WITH my discomfort, I kept trying to read this book. I liked the urgency and meaningless/meaningful dialogue, and I like Medeiros’ writing. But I couldn’t get past how many times I would read a line or see a phrase and think “author” not “character.”

I didn’t like how the reality of the author’s voice was intruding into the fictional world of the book. But then, the reverse didn’t work, either. The parts that were fiction that could come forward into “real life” weren’t verifiable. For example, when the characters tweet pictures of one another, none of the URLs actually work (I tried, trust me).

Maybe that was kind of the point, and the author was playing with the idea of reality and character, that everyone on Twitter is a fraction of themselves, a sketch of a character typed out in 140 characters. Maybe if you follow Medeiros’ tweetstream, which is a very fun and savvy example of an author interacting online, you’re supposed to see the words and phrases in this book that are the author’s, not the character’s, and wonder how much of the author, and the character, is real when present on Twitter, and by extension, how much or how little of ourselves we reveal on Twitter.

My problem is that of the authors I follow on Twitter, Medeiros is one of the strongest and most adept at using Twitter for building her own brand and persona online. Since I follow her on Twitter, I already know the in-jokes and the characters she used to populate this story, but instead of feeling as if I were in on the humor, I felt confused and mistrustful because I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to see Abby or Medeiros as the heroine. And I didn’t want to see Medeiros. As far as I know, she’s happily married and living in the South, not single and miserable living in New York City. I knew Abby Donovan wasn’t her, but I couldn’t separate Medeiros from the character, either.

I could also be overthinking my struggle entirely, or trying to talk around my own discomfort. I just couldn’t get past the number of times I saw Teresa Medeiros in the text and not Abby Donovan. No matter where I tried to start reading – the beginning, any random chapter, the ending – I couldn’t see Abby Donovan as an independent character at all, because Medeiros kept talking instead. It was either a intricate and clever ploy to examine Twitter without examining it outright, or it was cutesy and twee(t), or both, or neither. Whichever it was, I couldn’t finish the book because of the intrusion of the author and her own online persona, and the fact that both were stronger than the character of Abby, who as a result never had a chance to develop on her own. I couldn’t read more than a chapter without getting annoyed or confused and having to put it down.


Goodnight, Tweetheart is available at Amazon.com and for the Kindle, at BN, Powell’s, Book Depository, and wherever books are sold.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Anony Miss says:

    I’ve never seen any of her tweets, so it would be interesting to see if someone complete unfamilar with her twitonality would enjoy this book, much as you enjoy the author’s tweets.

    (Hmm. There’s a giveaway in here somewhere…)

  2. 2

    Having attended your panel discussion at RWA, I recall your discussion of Teresa’s tweeting and your anticipation of this book.  Although you rated it as DNF, your review is astute.  Thank for you taking the time to share your thoughts.

  3. 3
    Chi-Chi says:

    This is my first time comenting on your blog, but I have been following for a few years now, and I myself have a blog where I write chronicles of romance I have read…
    I just read this book last night and I will be talking about it next week, because I quite liked it. I do not follow Medeiros on Twitter and barely know how Twitter works anyway, but I am a fan on Facebook. I knew about her cats’ names, and it did bother me a little, but appart from that, I didn’t imagine her in Abby’s place.
    So I guess for a reader who doesn’t know her at all, this will be a pretty sweet story, well written, if a little bit too short for my taste!

  4. 4
    Dawn Green says:

    Goodreads.com has a current rating of 4.12 which is quite high. I have found them to be a reliable indicator for my taste in romances. But the reviews I read don’t seem to be from anyone who knows Teresa Medeiros. So maybe that is the key…

  5. 5
    Anonymousss says:

    For me, this book was an object lesson in the downside of social networking, because my awareness of the author’s online persona negatively impacted my enjoyment of their work product. I thought the story was unattractively self-referential. If I knew LESS about Madieros’s personal life, I might have enjoyed the book more. Sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock to the “old days” when authors’ lives weren’t such an open book. 

    Mark’s first tweet to Abby made my jaw drop (in the bad way) and my opinion of him, unfortunately, never recovered from this negative first impression.

  6. 6

    Interesting review.  I haven’t followed Medeiros’ Tweetstream so I didn’t approach the book with any preconceived ideas.  I enjoyed it, but was also strongly bothered by it.  It was a combination of cute and squicky, and I can’t go into too much detail because it would give away major plot points.

    As I say, I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to people like I do other strange books I’ve really enjoyed, books like Andrew Davidson’s Gargoyle.

  7. 7
    AgTigress says:

    It was a combination of cute and squicky, and I can’t go into too much detail …

    I am now racking my brains trying to imagine a combination of cute and squicky!
    :-D

  8. 8

    @AgTigress—There are scenes early on where I’m reading humorous banter, then I remembered what bothered me about the set-up = cute & squicky.  But overall I found it engrossing.

  9. 9
    AgTigress says:

    Ah, I get it!  Thanks!
    ;-)

  10. 10
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    Cats named Willow Tum Tum and Buffy the Mouse Slayer?  I already know I do not want to read this book.

  11. 11
    Daisy says:

    Not really a comment on the book as I haven’t read it, but this in the review bothers me “The heroine says her ideal hero is a man with a moral core that would “rush into a burning building to rescue a basket of kittens.”

    Now admittedly I am not an animal person – they are fine to have around but I don’t consider them to be family, but is anyone else bothered that the heroine says her ideal hero is a man who would risk his life for kittens?  Babies I would understand, but kittens?  I don’t get it and would think the man was an idiot and I would steer clear. 

    Also – I find it disconcerting when authors and their heroines become intwined.  When author pics on the back of the book begin to reflect their characters, or when real life author instances begin to appear in the books – that really bothers me.  I read fiction for the story; I don’t want to picture the author doing some of the things that are described in some of the books.

  12. 12
    AgTigress says:

    .. is anyone else bothered that the heroine says her ideal hero is a man who would risk his life for kittens?  Babies I would understand, but kittens?

    Whether one ‘gets’ this or not depends entirely on one’s perception of companion animals.  For some of us, they most definitely are ‘family’.

  13. 13
    FiaQ says:

    @Daisy and @AgTigress

    Considering they are kittens, they wouldn’t survive the fire smoke longer than a couple of minutes. An adult wouldn’t survive longer than five minutes without acquiring a possible long-term health problem. Ten minutes’ worth of fire smoke? Say hello to brain damage or death.

  14. 14
    Daisy says:

    I have been mulling this over all morning and I think what I have finally come to realize is that it is not the kittens per say that bother me and yes, I do realize that some people feel their pets are family and would risk their own lives for them (but would you risk your life for some random basket of unknown kittens)? 
    The issue for me is that she (the author or the heroine, whomever the line is attributed too) states that saving kittens is her moral code for choosing her ideal mate.  Not “is he a trustworthy man, will he be a good provider, a good father; do his friends and co-workers respect him, does he treat me well?”  – but will he risk his own life (and by extension, the well-being of his wife, children, employees, etc) to save kittens. 

    That’s what I find bothersome, and an incredibly stupid place to set your moral code. Quite frankly, if my daughter came home and told me she had found her ideal man and she was basing that on whether or not he would save kittens, we would have to have some serious words about her decision making skills. 

    Anywho – I am done hijacking the comments, back to discussion of the book.

  15. 15
    Jane says:

    I finished this and while I follow Medeiros, I don’t follow her as closely as you do.  It’s always a problem when the female protagonist is an author.  I had the same issue with Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin’s Berkley Heat release. I couldn’t get past the third chapter because it was about an erotic romance author who was trying to write BDSM so she was meeting up with a dom who would provide research for her book and she ends up in a relationship with the dom.  That blurring of reality and fiction was too much for me.

    What really failed for me in the Medeiros book was how contrived it was.  That this couple who tweeted and fell in love ONLY tweeted.  There was no texting, no IMing, no emails.  No other exchanges but Twitter.  And the Twitter exchanges were fairly banal.  I couldn’t figure out how the two were the “love of each others’ lives” from the tweets in the book.

    Even the conflict was contrived in that after a few exchanges, Mark admits that he isn’t what he says he is.  This leads Abby into a great and enraged tizzy wherein she refuses to respond to his tweets for about a week.

  16. 16
    AgTigress says:

    …they wouldn’t survive the fire smoke longer than a couple of minutes.

    FiaQ:  I’m sure you’re right.  But presumably that would apply to a human infant, too, so are we saying that there is never any point at all in trying to extract anyone from a burning building?  Surely not?
    The whole statement seem to me more symbolic than literal, which I think is part of what is bothering Daisy, who is taking it absolutely literally, and is also assuming a degree of danger in the putative building that has not been stipulated.  I can’t speak for Medeiros, obviously, but I suspect that what she is saying is not really about rescuing kittens specifically, but more generally about courage and loyalty. 
    Of course

    “is he a trustworthy man, will he be a good provider, a good father; do his friends and co-workers respect him, does he treat me well?”

    is what it is all about in prosaic words, but the quality of selfless courage in the service of those you love is surely part of that, and can be vividly symbolised in this way.
    I don’t think we want to get into the issue of kittens as opposed to human babies, human adults or different human family members (if you can rescue only the baby or her elderly grandmother, but not both…).

  17. 17
    Jacqueline Seewald says:

    As a romance reader and writer, I follow romance reviews with interest.
    I’ve read quite a few of Teresa Medeiros’s novels in the past, but not this one. I enjoyed her western romances and found them very well-written. However, I agree it’s a mistake to create characters that are too closely connected to personal reality.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE INFERNO COLLECTION
    THE DROWNING POOL
    TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS—now in Thorndike large print
    STACY’S SONG, a YA romance

  18. 18
    Alpha Lyra says:

    Re: saving kittens, there was an interesting article in my local paper about a guy who pulled a child out of a burning car. Very heroic! But it turns out he also stiffs his employees and has a felony conviction.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013726601_rizzos21m.html

    I just thought it was interesting that someone could be heroic in some things and a douchebag in others.

  19. 19
    Barbara W. says:

    I haven’t read this and don’t plan to because the whole setup sounds just awful, but on the subject of authors blurring the line between themselves and their lead characters, I can think of two right off the bat that killed their books for me: Patricia Cornwell and Laurell K. Hamilton.

    I can’t understand how people can fall in love via e-mail, let alone Twitter.  I’m barely functional on it.

  20. 20
    willaful says:

    I haven’t read this, but I have a strong aversion to feeling like reality and fiction are melding together in my reading, so I get what you’re saying.

  21. 21
    infinitieh says:

    I did see Teresa in my mind as Abby while reading the book, but I have no problems with that.  So what that she’s married in real life?  What’s the big deal?  This is fiction, after all.

    I do, however, want an Epilogue of some sort because *SPOILER ALERT* as it stands, I can’t really see a HEA for the two of them even though the ending is a satisfying one.

  22. 22
    kathie says:

    I have read other Mederios works – she’s not an auto-buy for me, but I like her work.  I loved this book and will probably re-read often.  I’m not a reviewer (nor do I play one on tv) – but I think in the interest of fairness, you might have someone who doesn’t know the author as well as you do review the book to get another take on it.

  23. 23
    Marumae says:

    Hmm, I’ve never read any of this authors works and while the idea of falling in love via letters/long distance (true there’s a certain amount of trust that goes into that, I mean how do you know you’re getting what they say you’re getting?) is romantic but twitter? Twitter and ONLY twitter? Really? No phone calls, no email, no real life visits, or snail mail? I don’t think I could buy that…

    Count me in with people who are a tad uncomfortable with authors whose characters blur the lines of reality, I don’t mind it if a character resembles an author (because I can usually insert some celebrity in place of the author who sort of resembles them and it makes me feel better…) but when you start going into Laurell K Hamilton (this is my avatar…)territory it gets weiiiird. Don’t think I’ll check this one out.

  24. 24
    Jean Lamb says:

    Now, moving briskly on to the subject of epistolary novels, sometimes they are done right. The best example I can think of is SORCERY AND CECELIA by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, and various other related volumes seductively waving their little pages at me there on Amazon, as if I didn’t drop enough money there over Christmas already. (I mean, really, have you SEEN my TBR list?)

    Ahem. Anyway, it’s back in print just in case y’all didn’t know.

  25. 25
    infinitieh says:

    “Goodnight Tweetheart” isn’t all tweets.  There are paragraphs from Abby’s point of view between the tweets (really DMs) that they write to each other.

    Good epistolary novels:
    “Dear Mr. Henshaw” by Beverly Cleary – Children’s
    “Feeling Sorry for Celia” by Jaclyn Moriarty (and the rest of the Ashbury/Brookfield series) – YA
    “Princess Diaries” by Meg Cabot (and the sequels) – YA
    “The Boy Next Door” by Meg Cabot (and the sequels)

  26. 26
    Liz says:

    I can’t understand how people can fall in love via e-mail, let alone Twitter.  I’m barely functional on it.

    I imagine it would be virtually impossible to fall in love solely from twitter/e-mail conversations.  Social Psychological studies have shown that emotions do not come across all that well via the internet.  the reason it is harder to gauge emotions from text than it is when you’re talking to someone is that you don’t hear the inflections in their speech.  One of the things that doesn’t come off very well is sarcasm, which is probably why a lot of people add lol, lmao, and roflmao to the ends of sarcastic remarks so people know that it isn’t really what it sounds like.

    However, other studies have shown that when a relationship start online and expand to include real-time interactions it is just as likely to last as a relationship that begins traditionally.

  27. 27
    Sophie says:

    One of my fav epistolary novels ever was Lady Susan by Jane Austen. The whole thing is letters written from various family members to each other or outside friends. And in fact is freakin hilarious. 

    Idk if I could fall in love by tweets.  I have gotten addicted to certain blogs (hi Sarah!) and you can feel like you really understand them and they’re part of your life. I follow certain people on Twitter, mostly cuz they make me laugh. But true love happy ever after romance. Think it would be a hard sell for me.

  28. 28
    Carolyn says:

    I agree with Sorcery and Cecelia, read it years ago and loved it.

    But the best epistolary novel I’ve read is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It takes place just after WWII and I adored it.

  29. 29

    @Carolyn—What you said.  I was about to post that Guernsey Literary was my favorite epistolary novel of the last ten years, but you beat me to it.  It knocked my socks off and I loved it.  Great writing, amazing romance (more than one), beautifully put together.  I hated to see it end.

  30. 30
    Miranda says:

    On the subject of epistolary novels in general, let me recommend Homeland by Barbara Hambly. It’s about the friendship of 2 women, one Northern, one Southern, who write each other throughout the Civil War. I felt like I went into missing time while I was reading that book. “An hour and a half went by? Huh? Hmm? Where’d that go? Oh, well.” ::returns to book::

    Password: effect17. That book had 17 different effects on me :)

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