RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: A Dundee Christmas by Brenda Novak

D

Title: A Dundee Christmas
Author: Brenda Novak
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 9780373716685
Genre: Romantic Suspense

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc. This RITA® Reader Challenge review was written by Shari. This story is found in the That Christmas Feeling anthology, and is nominated in the Novella category.

Book CoverPlot Summary: A woman seeking refuge in a strange town during a snowstorm is taken in by a man who helps her discover that home is where the love is.

Shari didn’t think the plot summary really captured the book, so she included her own summary: “Ken is a super-hot, fairly young retired NFL player.  Cierra’s a spunky 25-year-old mail order bride from Guatemala who attempted to sacrifice herself to keep her and her younger sisters from being forced into prostitution in Guatemala by marrying a 74-year-old American.  Unfortunately, the fiance dies before the marriage occurs so she’s now an illegal alien trying to stay one step ahead of immigration, although they never show in the novella.  They are more of an ever-present threat in the mind of the heroine.”

And now, Shari’s review:

I had a hard time relating to Cierra.  She frequently came across as TSTL, and at times her decisions seemed to come from a split personality.  Ken was better developed as a character, and I related to what he felt, although that didn’t seem much more than admiration and lust.

I kept getting jolted out of the story by odd thoughts and conversations.  The worst of which is when Ken’s trying to determine if she had sex with the 74-year-old fiance.  It was like a merry-go-round:  She did things with him so he wouldn’t think she’d back out, but he couldn’t get it up, but she fantasized about Gary Cooper while he did things to her, but he couldn’t get it up.  Round & round we go …  It also seemed to be the longest conversation they had (great basis for everlasting love).  The question was never really answered, although it came up several times, and wasn’t pertinent to the story.  Based on that, who gives a shit if she had consensual sex with her fiance or if she’s a virgin?  I understand when it’s used as a plot tool, but here it just took up space.  I was offended for septuagenarians [because] when anyone heard her old fiance story, and their first thought was, “OMG, did they bump uglies? Grody!”

The only sexual encounter they had was disturbing as well.  She’s working at his house for room, board & a warm jacket, but he just can’t resist when she climbs naked into his hot tub in the dark.  She decides to go for it since he’s young, hot, turns her on, and this is her one and only opportunity to bang a guy like that before she finds herself another nasty, old geezer to marry so she can stay in the country.  It’s interrupted before much happens, so the ‘oh so important’ state of her hymen is still undetermined.  Apparently, a disadvantaged young woman hooking up with an old man who is offering marriage is disgusting, but with a young, attractive stud who is also essentially her employer it’s OK.

Finally, there was no HEA that I could discern. (I would have gladly traded all the asinine ‘did she do the old man’ sections for one more chapter added to the end.)  There were no words or thoughts of love or forever, and I didn’t close the book thinking there would be one. That’s guaranteed to piss me off.  The novella read more like the first half of a book that is to be continued.  This is part of a long series, so that might not be too far off.

There were some good things about the story.  I liked that Cierra had an incredible work ethic.  I liked Ken’s character, and would have enjoyed reading more about him.  He didn’t take advantage of her, but instead found a solution that gave her a chance to improve her situation, and still preserve her dignity.  Based on that, I gave it a D instead of an F.  A HEA would have bumped it up to a C-.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Lindlee says:

    I’m really hating this new trend of novellas that aren’t self-contained short stories but instead are teasers for the author’s upcoming full length novel.

  2. 2
    MissFiFi says:

    Holy Crap. The last few books reviewed seem to be real bombs and yet, they are nominated for a RITA? I am at a complete loss.

  3. 3
    quichepup says:

    I gotta say I like a heroine who isn’t blonde-haired and blue eyed but the rest sounds like meh. Though I might consider it just for the heroine even if she is TSTL. TSTL is without prejudice, can affect women of all nationalities, all colors, all backgrounds.

  4. 4
    Rainytown says:

    @MissFifi

    Holy Crap. The last few books reviewed seem to be real bombs and yet, they are nominated for a RITA? I am at a complete loss.

    I have wondered more than once how the RITA nominations would change if all books were submitted electronically, and author identities were deleted.

    Just sayin’.

  5. 5

    I haven’t read the book, so when I first saw A Dundee Christmas I imagined that it was a book about Michael Scott presenting a Very Special version of the Dundees at Christmas, complete with his rendition of “The Little Paper Boy.”  I would very much like to read that story.

  6. 6
    Lori says:

    I have wondered more than once how the RITA nominations would change if all books were submitted electronically, and author identities were deleted.

    Just sayin’.

    it does make you wonder a bit. Tastes obviously vary, but several of the RITA nominees have sounded truly awful and you have to wonder what’s up with that.

    Like I said on one of the earlier bad reviews, these terrible-sounding books make me feel bad for nominees whose books are actually good because they devalue the RITA nominations.

  7. 7
    LizW65 says:

    I haven’t read the book, so when I first saw A Dundee Christmas I imagined that it was a book about Michael Scott presenting a Very Special version of the Dundees at Christmas…

    I was envisioning something set in Scotland, or possibly dealing with a popular brand of marmalade.

  8. 8
    Karen H says:

    In one of the previous reviews someone explained how the RITA nominations come about and I have to say I no longer have much respect for them.  It seems to be primarily a marketing award.  And reading the reviews and seeing that I would feel pretty much the same way about these books as the reviewers, I feel even more strongly negative.  I’d say the RITA nominations have been devalued for me.

    I also dislike the apparent trend that novellas don’t have to have the HEA.  For me, if it’s a romance I want the HEA or I don’t want to read it.

  9. 9
    Randomreader says:

    He didn’t take advantage of her is setting the bar pretty low. Also disgusted by the virginity fixation. What would be wrong in a contemporary if the woman had had sex before? Seems to me authors go into contortions to make the H a V. Why in this day and age?

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