Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley

April 13, 2015 Contemporary, Reviews 11

Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley“A satisfying category romance from Entangled’s brand new Lovestruck imprint…”

That certainly explains it. A category romance. I went in blind without reading the blurb and only knowing I’d bought a black romance on a sale. The cover lies.

Tate Grayson and Noelle Butler are radio hosts in a Dallas radio station. He talks about sports and she talks about relationships. Until one day annoyed by life and traffic they both make the mistake of calling each other’s shows and end up sharing a new show.

So far so good. Two working adults get thrown together by a business savvy boss. They don’t particularly like the new situation but are professional enough to overlook that, until ignorance becomes impossible. Add a slightly ridiculous plot twist to keep throwing them together in a more intimate fashion and you have an entertaining romance book with banter.

I liked and then I didn’t.

The turn started when Tate’s rich family connection was revealed. I’m not a fan of the millionaire/billionaire fantasy, but I was willing to tolerate it because Tate’s money was beside the point. Focus wasn’t on Tate buying things for Noelle; the story was about facing his fears and overcoming them. And what is a romantic fantasy without a helicopter ride thrown in.

I even relished the dash of melodrama in the form of Noelle’s dead parents. I too would have made that call and reacted as Noelle did after. Apart from going to an American college and getting therapy. I’m too Finnish for that and Noelle is a much healthier woman.

Then we got to the sex and I cringed. I ticked off the three most offensive words used in bad smut writing—core, centre, her sex—and suffered through the rest of the descriptions. The more Wesley tried, the less sexier it felt. And because I couldn’t enjoy the smut, I rushed through the plot.

Which is how the ending ruined what was left of a good book. View Spoiler »

I’m not sure which I found more offensive: the public gesture or the money fixes all attitude.

Final Assessment: If category romances about millionaire heroes are your thing, this is the book for you. It wasn’t for me. D.

Source: Bought.

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A reader who’ll try anything once. Eclectic as her tastes are, she tends to gravitate to historical romances, realistic contemporaries, and some fantasy novels and is currently burned out on vampires and fairies. She reads m/f, m/m, and an occasional ménage, but f/f is not her thing. Murder mysteries are her original love, but these days a whodunnit has to be something exceptional to catch her eye.

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11 Responses to “Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley”

  1. Jill Sorenson

    I really liked this one! I’m not a fan of public declarations so I didn’t love the ending, either. But I totally disagree with you on the “three most offensive words.” What? Why are these mild euphemisms offensive? Why are words for the female body never right, never sexy enough, never good enough?

  2. Nu

    @Jill Sorenson: Good question. We are pretty critical of anything to do with female characters. Every reader prefers something different (and contradictory) when it comes to terminology so I think a writer just has to go with her gut.

  3. Anna Richland

    I read this over the winter b/c it was on Jill’s best diversity reads of 2014, and I liked it quite a bit – but I knew I was going in for a category-style romance, not explicit, and heavy on the banter. So it fulfilled what I expected and I liked it.

    It’s hard to figure out what to call body parts, okay? It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Because you can’t use the same word – ANY word – over and over and over, that’s boring. So the writer has to choose multiple words. And with a lighter tone, what should a writer use? Not c*nt, that’s for sure. And I don’t think actual technical terms like vagina work in most writing of this style either. Lots of times writers want a word that almost disappears, or at least blends, as the reader goes past it, and I think va-gi-na is just too complicated a word phonetically for that.

    I didn’t even notice choices like ‘core’ – as a reader, I read right over that, just like I zip over ‘he said’ but would get stopped dead if someone wrote ‘he exclaimed.’

    (The buy-the-station thing was a little too much for me too, b/c I felt it took away some of the heroine’s agency, but I really did like the way the two of them got roped into the radio show together, and then I thought the way they each grew through participation was pretty good – I liked that it wasn’t sex that cured people’s problems either, and the resolution for the couple who had called in to the show felt very natural and appropriate – I liked that).

    All in all, I thought it was a really good book when I read it, and it’s stuck with me since – I’ve remembered it enough to recommend it on a thread about therapists somewhere, for instance.

  4. Ridley

    This one’s on my TBR, because cute cover, but now I don’t know what to do! Those sex words – core, centre, her sex – don’t bother me at all, but I *hate* super-public grand gestures. They always feel emotionally manipulative.

    Aw man, now I’m sad. I’ll have to read one of the other 500+ books I own and haven’t read.

  5. rameau

    @Jill Sorenson, @Nu,

    The short answer. Those three are the most overused euphemisms in romance.

    The longer: centre and core are anatomically incorrect. They refence to somewhere higher up in the torso, closer to diaphragm than vagina. So, every time an author describes the hero reaching or plunging for the heroine’s ‘core’, I imagine him stabbing her under the ribs with his penis like a blunt dagger. As for the third, to me it reduces the woman character to her genitalia, the aforementioned vagina mostly, which in turn makes it less trans* inclusive.

    Tastes vary, but these are mine.

    @Anna Richland, You’re absolutely right about the ending undermining Noelle’s agency. At least Tate could have asked if she wanted him to buy her a job and he definitely had the option of offering to go with her to Chicago. And you’re right about the other things too, which is why the ending annoyed me so.

  6. Alicia

    I don’t understand why a dislike of ridiculous euphemisms is being twisted into a form of internalized misogyny. If we’re going to make that argument wouldn’t the reusal to use “vagina” and instead going with the utterly nonsensical “sex” or whatever be more representative of that mindset? Why is hating cringe-worthy words not actually representative of female genitalia not okay but everyone saying “vagina is too clinical” fine?

    Ultimately, yes, everyone is different and likes/dislikes different things which is why I’ll never understand the need to explicitly use these words at all. But that’s a post for another day.

  7. Anna Richland

    In the end, it’s the author’s choice, isn’t it? She’s writing her story, in her voice.

    So – the whole circular discussion about core, center, etc is just us talking, all from our own POVs.

    Still – Ridley — it’s a cute and fun read, and I thought the radio show premise was great — you could read it anyway and just imagine your own ending?

    On that note, I just read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for the first time (thank you, sad puppies, for giving me the push to buy and read something that I had been *meaning* to read. Good can come of everything, and I really hope NK Jemisin’s sales took a nice upward spin this last week and she’s laughing all the way to a nice vacation, hopefully). I adored the book but my opinion is still mulling over the events of the last 15 pages or so. Perhaps I read too much romance and thriller, and have my genre expectations set too firmly in a specific type of resolution – my mixed feelings about the ending didn’t decrease my enjoyment of the rest of the book, just gave me more to think about.

    So – long way to say – don’t let the ending stop you from trying Wesley’s book, if you’re inclined by the rest.

  8. Nu

    @rameau: I see where you’re coming from.

    @Alicia: The popular alternative, p****, is just another ridiculous euphemism to me. (Don’t know the blog rules, sorry!) I don’t find one better than the other.

    @Anna: Glad you enjoyed Jemisin. I think the exploration of empire and politics was my favorite part.

  9. Nu

    Although, given that p**** has a more raw connotation, I guess those other words, like sex, are euphemisms for a euphemism.

  10. Ridley

    @Nu: “(Don’t know the blog rules, sorry!)”

    Be as vulgar as you want to be. Our only language rule is don’t use oppressive language to insult people. Everything else is a-ok.

  11. Jill Sorenson

    @Alicia: I’m all for vagina. I think we should use that more. I don’t know if it’s internalized misogyny or just discomfort with female sexuality, but words for the female body get criticized over and over and over again while words for the male body are accepted as sexy or value-neutral. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen perfectly normal descriptions of female genitalia and arousal mocked. So many jokes about heroines needing to see a doctor for that burning sensation. So much “eww!” The impression I get is that vaginas are gross and we shouldn’t describe them at all. Women are taught from birth that our bodies have less value and are a source of shame rather than pleasure. No words will ever be right.

    @rameau: Of course tastes vary. I just don’t agree that these words are offensive or indicative of “bad smut writing.”