Review: Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Taken from my Goodreads.

Well, I just finished the ARC of Truly, Madly I won from Goodreads after receiving it in the mail 2 days ago. And I must say, I’m fairly pleased.

The book is yet another entry in the booming market of “paranormal romance,” which most people take as “a vampire sex book.” But not so in this case. Lucy Valentine, our sexy blond heroine (running trend, don’t you think?), comes from a long lineage who have the ability to see people’s auras who then match them up with their perfect mates, but an accident short-circuits her gift and through some twist of plot device turns it into the ability to touch peoples’ hands and see objects they’ve lost. Crazy? Yes, but to be honest this is probably the most original concept I’ve come across in the genre. And because of this, Miss Valentine happens to come across the decomposing body of a client’s former enemy.

And thus is our setup for a little romp around Boston. So, how do I feel the book measures up?

Well, let’s be honest here. This book is supposed to be direct competition for Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series of novels. They’ve even gone so far as to print a blurb from Harris right on the front cover. Yeah, nice tact there, St. Martin’s. It’s so “in” to do a “A So-and-so Whats-her-name Novel.”

The actual writing isn’t as bad as I feared here. Yeah, the constant comma splices made me want to scream and sometimes it reads about as well as stereo instructions. Listen, sweetheart, I don’t need a damn road map of Massachusetts every time your character gets in a car. Do I really need to know all the times your girl took the 3A? No. Thanks. And you know what? I get it. It’s fucking cold and there’s no snow yet. Oh, and giving me intimate details about exactly what your characters are wearing numbs me to the brain stem. I’m so regaled by the description of Miss Valentine’s boots.

Speaking of Charlaine Harris, that woman has made a career out of mediocrity, play-by-play exposition and characters and dialogue so flat that I find the mannequins on Old Navy commercials to have more personality.

The point is, you won’t find a lot of that going on here. The writing is a few steps above that of Harris’. The characters each have their own distinct traits and habits, which I love to see. They may not jump off the page, but they definitely have dimension to them, which is more than I can say for Sookie and Vampire Bill.

The plot isn’t totally contrived either. Yeah, the ending has been done more times than the publishing world cares to mention, but it was presented well enough that I didn’t mind. And, come on, it’s chick lit. We’re not aiming for the stars here.

So, in one sentence: I liked it. It’s a fast-paced read that you could easily polish off in a day or weekend. The characters are fun, but not necessarily funny (though they try) and the concept is vastly more original than most you’ll find in the genre. Even better: it’s not all about the sex. It’s about the budding romance.

It’s not for everyone, but when the book releases in February, I imagine it will do fairly well and become popular with a lot of readers. And honestly, I could easily see this becoming an underrated prime-time network series. Wednesday night fodder for ABC, most likely.

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