Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: 'Jacob' by Jacquelyn Frank (...and the virgin archetype in modern romance)

Note from the blogger:  Ugh!  I am so far behind on my book reviews!  I have been reading like a fiend, but I've been a little blocked when it comes to reviewing.  Part of my issue is I don't know what information readers might find useful.  Do you want comments on the cover art?  More discussion on the writing quality?  Or do you want more of my wacky observations and opinions?  If you have suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.  I do read them and it will help me to improve. 

Jacob is the first book in Jacqueline Franks, Nightwalker Series.  The Nightwalkers are the dark races who live alongside humans without humans knowing about them...demons, vampires, lycans, etc.  The series focuses specifically on demons.  (Demons are not spawn of Satan, but magical elements beings who have been distorted by human myths.)  Jacob is the Enforcer of the demon race.  He roots out and punishes those who seek to do harm to humans.  His is a respected and necessary role, but a lonely one.  Few demons want to befriend the Enforcer.  His only true friend is Noah, the demon king. 

One night while hunting a crazy, summoned demon, Jacob sees a human woman fall out of a 5th story window while she was stargazing (I'm going to resist laughing at the implausibility of a person falling from a window while stargazing in New York City for the moment. Just go with it.), and he saves her from crashing to her death.  The woman is Bella (yes, another f’ing romantic heroine named Bella…), a human with some unusual talents—within their first meeting, she is able to sense the location of a summoned demon and kill him.  Pretty kick-ass for a librarian.  While the relationship between Jacob and Bella grows, so does the inexplicable psychic connection between them. 

I finished this book, so I suppose it had enough going for it that it kept me reading, but I can’t say I loved it.  Part of me was confused by it.  The author wrote it all serious-like, but then some weird thing would happen and I wouldn’t know if the author was trying to be funny on purpose or if it was unintentional.  For example, the falling out of the window thing.  The author made few efforts to make this seem believable, so I couldn’t tell if she made it ridiculous on purpose or not. 

Then, this book used a particular plot device that is a pet peeve of mine.  I don’t want to come down on Frank for this, because she is by far not the only author who does this.  In fact, it is done so much in romance that it has become cliché.  I’m talking about the impossibly beautiful, smart, sexy woman who in her late twenties is still completely virginal and has to be taught sex by the uber experienced man.  This is the twenty-first century!  Unless there is a logical explanation to support why the woman would be inexperienced, why do this?  To me, it sends a poor message to women about their sexuality.  Women have just as much right to play the field and learn their bodies as men, so why do so many romance authors act like their women are coming straight out of the puritanical 1950’s?  In this book, Jacob had this enhanced sense of smell and her could smell that Bella had not been “marked by a man.”  Ewwwwww!!!!!  Are you f’ing kidding me? 

I blame editors for this also.  If it doesn’t make sense for the woman to be a virgin, why propagate that image?  I guess women readers need to speak up more on this issue, which I why I am taking this review over as my soap box.  An experienced woman does not mean she is promiscuous or a whore.  If you are a reader and you agree with me on this, please speak up.  Publishers and authors will continue to write characters like this if we let them. 

So, I am going to toss this issue back over to all of you.  What do you think of the virginal heroine in contemporary romances?  Does it send a poor message to women or does it enhance the sexual tension.  I would love to hear from you on this. 

Before I sign off, my overall impression of Jacob is…

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Character development – 2 ½ bookmarks
Love story – 3 bookmarks
Paranormal elements/world – 4 bookmarks (I think this is what kept me reading)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – a young Liz Taylor (Bella), Manu Bennett (Jacob)

1 comment:

  1. If you want a virgin at 28 (or more), she cannot be impossibly beautiful. And that doesn't mean the kind of plain that disappears when she takes her glasses off. Now, the 28 year old virgin is fine in Regency/Victorian romancy, but contemporary? Please. It's part of the reason I don't read contemporary romance anymore. Why does a woman's virginity (or lack thereof) even have to come up? Why can't "she's single" just suffice? Why does she have to be single and unbelievably inexperienced for the time-setting? I agree heartily with your soapbox!!!