Monday, August 19, 2013

Kiss the Girl by Susan Sey

Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥

The cover of this book really threw me for a loop. It suggests that the story would be one of those cutesy rom coms featuring a strong silent hero, a chattery but adorable heroine, a strict father figure with a heart of gold, a gay best friend and an eternally single and hilariously bitter bff. 

And I was wrong because despite what the cutie-patootie cover suggests, this story is the total opposite of that.

He: Heart surgeon who volunteers his time with the poor and downtrodden of D.C.'s rougher neighborhoods. Along with his best friend Mary Jane, he helps run a clinic to help the poor get access to healthcare.

She: A famous trust fund-rich do-gooder from a family of famous do-gooders who has spent her whole life in the poorest parts of the world trying to bring attention to the plight of the people there. Her mother is described as an Angelina Jolie-type of character with an almost brutal beauty and the ability to turn everyone who beholds her into a whimpering fool. Our heroine on the other hand is more of a Princess Di sort with a sweetness and charm that ingratiates her to anyone she meets. Her life has  been charmed in terms of wealth and public adoration, but she's a lonely girl at the heart of it. Plus she has a nasty and dysfunctional family.

Conflict: The hero's mother is a senator and he always resented the fact that she was never there for him and his father. He is determined never to marry someone who was so much in the public eye that it would preclude any sort of true private life. So when H meets h, although there is some attraction, he feels like her intensely public profile means that he can never really get into a relationship with her.

1) Interesting premise and probably not too far off the mark as far as how the media affects people's private lives. 

2) The story wasn't as "soft" as your typical chick-lit novel. There were some rather serious issues being dealt with here - poverty in America, the abominable state of the healthcare system, the responsibility of the rich to lend the poor some of their luck, how the media both manipulates and is manipulated by people in the spotlight - among others.

3) The writing was snappy and many times funny, and the characters were really nicely drawn. They were all complicated and tricky and not at all the regular characters who usually pop up in chick-lit.

What was sort of meh:
1) I thought the hero was an ass. The big stick up his heinie was that his mommy was too busy for him (um hello, she was a senator, his dad could have moved his saggy butt to where his mom worked instead of insisting she leave her job and ambitions to come work on his farm). 

As a result of this feeling of abandonment, his whole problem with the heroine is that she's "too famous" to be a suitable wife and partner. Why? As a thinking adult, could he not open his eyes and see that being famous and busy isn't the real issue - the issue is what that person does with their fame and work. And once he gets to know her and realizes that she ISN'T a spoiled brat, then what is his issue with her? 

I really just didn't get why he let his dislike for the fact that he felt like his mom didn't bake him cookies when he was little color his whole entire perspective on Every Famous Female in the World.

2) There is a scene where he forces her to eat meat even though she says she's a vegetarian because he doesn't believe she's a vegetarian for "the right reasons". Say what now!!?? Who the heck is HE to tell her what the "right" reasons are. 

Her reasons were actually pretty sound - she thinks the meat industry is extremely energy intensive and thought she would do her little part in cutting back on the waste. That isn't the worst reasoning I've ever heard. But he insists that she eat a burger. Turns out she likes it and he feels all vindicated and smug. Well... the fact that burgers are DELICIOUS is not really in dispute here - it's just that even though they are delicious a person has a right to choose not to eat them if they feel like they are doing something to cut back a little on the general excess. 


3) He asks his best friend to marry him even though he doesn't really love her that way two SECONDS after he finishes making out with the girl that he does like that way.

Skeptic's last word: Ok - it occurs to me that everything I dislike about this book has to do with the hero. So I guess that's that then. If you don't mind douche-y, bitter, antagonistic heroes then this is the book for you! I do like Ms. Sey as a writer though so I will try something else of hers to get the taste of this silliness out of my mouth.

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