Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2020
I read the many great reviews here, and got this book based on that. But I'm seriously confused, because the book reviewed and the book I just read have some big disconnects.
First, i wasn't sure of the age of the H and h. There were many references to cultural things that were pretty far in the past. Valley Girl references? I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so this made sense to me, but didn't fit with the characters or the time this book was supposedly written. Farrah Fawcett hairstyles? VHS tapes? Many characters without cellphones? There's nothing wrong with this, but it didn't seem to fit with the tone of this story, which tried to appear very modern.
The H...he seemed great. At the same time, he was sort of cardboard. His dialogue was weird. It sat somewhere between British mysteries from the 30s and "upper crust" diction. I started to picture him as a buff David Niven, clutching a sleek pipe and asking for vodka tonics. Not my cup of sexy tea. Sure, I get that he's got more money than Warren Buffet, but his dialogue sounded really off, and made him kind of inaccessible as a love interest. I mean, what is this guy? An international jet setter? A Special Forces dude? A super rich guy ala Bond? Trying to mush all those together did not equal 1 clearly constructed hero.
The h...she seemed far more realistic. But again, I couldn't really get a bead on her age. It's not that the character's age mattered, but it was the disconnects between things she said, the cultural references, and her basic makeup that just didn't go together.
The showstopper for me was the closeted, abusive, alcoholic, murdery best friend of the H. Wow. He was so many stereotypes of actual stereotypes that I couldn't keep up. This character was one of the most offensive ones I've read in recent history. I simply couldn't swallow a closeted gay man who hates his secret love so much that he physically abuses the women who get close to the secret love. What??? And the absolute topper--the h wouldn't reveal this repeated physical abuse to her H? And maybe the final topper--when the H actually sees and hears his closeted best friend saying and doing frankly unforgivable crap to his h, he feels "a serious conversation" is the response? Double wow wow. The H is repeatedly described as a guardian of the down trodden, particularly women, yet he refuses to deal with his closeted best friend, who's a hair away from serial killer status. No. And the seriously weird deathbed/confession scene that's about 3 paragraphs long yet neatly ties up many years of felonious behavior was nowhere close to believable.
There were many things I wanted to love about this book. But the weird cultural positions of the characters, their odd language, and the insane best friend kept me from being able to fall into the story.