Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For Life by Sam Cheever

TITLE: For Life
AUTHOR: Sam Cheever
PUBLISHER: Red Rose Publishing
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 7.5k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $1.99

Zoe is nervous about meeting her fiance’s parents for the first time. In spite of his assurances, she is convinced that the fact she is black and Brian is white will be a problem for them. As it turns out, Zoe’s the one with the problem.

In spite of how short this story is, I almost didn’t finish it. I read the opening exchange between Zoe and Brian – bantering in an elevator – and immediately went back to the website to look at the excerpt to see how on earth I had been suckered into buying this. Because this, Zoe laughed. “What exactly is it that makes you crazy, vanilla man? Is it my cafĂ© au lait skin?” She let her tongue slip out from between her lips and tap against his mouth invitingly. He groaned and opened up to let her in. But Zoe wasn’t done playing. She yanked her tongue back. “Or is it my beautiful, curvaceous booty?” just reads awkwardly, not banter-y. The publisher’s blurb is also kind of vague about what the story exactly is about (I’d taken a gamble after being mildly charmed by the very brief excerpt), so when the story launches into Zoe’s anxiety about meeting his parents because she’s black, I almost stopped again. Because this, The first thing they heard as they entered the impressive penthouse was a high pitched voice screaming, “Black, black, black!” Zoe turned pale., makes Zoe look overreactive as hell.

But I kept on. Until the next point where I almost stopped. When Zoe takes a huge leap and accuses Brian’s father of not wanting them to get married when he came onto the scene teasing Brian’s mother about not scaring Zoe away before they got rid of Brian for good. She’s so wrapped up in her own paranoia and issues, she becomes completely irrational.

But for some reason, I kept going. Zoe has yet another over the top, unnecessary reaction to something after they leave the party, at which point, she proceeds to cut off all communication with Brian for a week. Doesn’t take his calls, doesn’t answer her door, nada. He’s forced to show up at her job to try and find out what the hell is going on, and lo and behold, there is the slightly charming scene I read on the website! Too little, too late.

Oh, and when they make up? We get lines like this: Zoe moaned as her body reached for that elusive peak, strained toward it, while pulling him along with her in her clenching, lust soaked womb. Why do female authors insist on confusing womb for vagina?!? The womb is the uterus, people. It doesn’t get soaked. It can't pull a penis along. Now, if this was the orgasm of the scene, I wouldn’t quibble about it clenching, but they don’t reach orgasm for another two paragraphs, so…I’m quibbling. And if someone wants to say that it's a romance euphemism for vagina, I'd like to point out that there are actually plenty of euphemisms that are actually accurate that could have been used instead, like "channel" or "passage."

Maybe I should’ve stopped at those first few paragraphs after all.

Readability4/10 – A lack of commas, laughable dialogue, winceworthy phrasing…it adds up.
Hero4/10 – Too perfect to be interesting or well-rounded
Heroine2/10 – Overwrought, irrational, and makes me want to slap her.
Entertainment value2/10 – I barely finished this. Only the fact that it was so short kept me going.
World building5/10 – Too much time preaching to do anything else.

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