Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: The Love Charm by Pamela Morsi (3.5 stars, Americana)



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Setting: 
  • Early 1800s, Louisiana. Sufficient French influence that everyone calls each other "mademoiselle" or "monsieur."

Characters: 
  • Heroine: It is widely believed that heroine is the prettiest woman on the Vermillion River, and possibly in all of Louisiana as well. She has a very joie de vivre spirit, flirting and laughing easily. She is also very scatterbrained. As a result, everyone - including herself - does not think much of her intelligence, leading to a lack of self-confidence. What she wants more than anything else is for someone to love her for who she is, rather than seeing her as a pretty ornament. 
  • Hero: While the heroine is considered the prettiest woman in the area, the hero is considered by some (ie. the heroine) to be the most intelligent man in the area. He is not exactly bookish, but he classifies himself somewhat as a scholar and introvert. He too has a lack of self-confidence, stemming from his short stature. He was frail as a young boy, didn't fill out much until he was older, and is still shorter than most women in the area. What he wants more than anything else is the heroine.

Plot: 
  • As the story opens, the reader finds out that the heroine has been engaged to the hero's best friend for two years and that the hero has been in love with the heroine since they were childhood friends. He feels that he could never attract the heroine's attention, so - instead - started to pull away from the friendship as the heroine matured. The hero also feels that the heroine and his friend are a perfect fit, because they are both such attractive people. Contrary to popular belief, however, the heroine did not accept the friend's proposal because of his physical attractiveness. She accepted it because it was what was expected of her, but also, because he is relatively poor. In her own warped way of thinking, she believes that bringing money to the marriage will help bring her husband to love her. The heroine seems to have some feelings for the hero, but believes that he does not have a very high opinion of her - she feels unintelligent compared to him, and interprets his aloofness towards her as disinterest.
  • As the plot develops, the reader finds out that not all is as it seems. The hero's friend has been putting off the marriage because he has been having an affair and has fallen in love with a married woman, who was deserted by her first husband. He knows marrying the heroine is the "right" thing to do, but has been putting it off. So he struggles with actually going through with the marriage. Meanwhile, the hero has been noticing his brother expressing much displeasure with his very pregnant wife. With the brother frequently complementing the beautiful heroine and a few misunderstood remarks made by the heroine, the hero believes that the heroine is falling for his brother. The first two thirds of the book basically consist of the hero telling his friend he has to marry the heroine, and telling the heroine that she has to marry his friend, all because he's trying to protect his brother's marriage. Because - you know - it's not like the hero could actually confront someone and have an honest conversation, or anything. The final third of the book is when the heroine finally realizes it's the hero she loves, takes charge of the relationship, and everything is tied up to get to the happily-ever-after.

What I did not like: 
  • The silliness. There was so much freaking silliness. The fact that the hero was too silly to ever address his feelings for the heroine, preferring instead to suffer stoically. The fact that heroine was so silly she believed she could make a man fall in love with her because of her money. The fact that the hero's friend initially felt he had to go through with the marriage, because that's what society dictates. I'm sure I could go on.
  • The hero's treatment of the heroine. The hero states that he loves her, and it's obvious he certainly desires her. But while he is gentlemanly in most aspects of his life, he is frequently degrading towards the heroine. He reinforces her belief that she is stupid, that it is foolish to entrust her with a meaningful occupation. He never bothers to try to figure out the relationship between the heroine and her fiance, thinking her so superficial she would simply marry the most attractive man in the area. The hero also firmly believes - until the last few pages of the book - that the heroine is in love with a married man, and would have "tempted him" away from his wife. The hero's through lack of respect sure did not seem like love.
  • The first two thirds of the book. Nothing happens. The couple already know each other, so there's no relationship development. It's just this meandering storyline with an excess of repressed feelings.

What I did like: 
  • The last third of the story. The end of the book really picks up when the heroine takes charge a little bit. I loved how she got tired of the hero's mixed signals, and just decided to manipulate him into offering marriage. There's some payoff as the couple finally get together with only a few misunderstandings left. However, the happy ending at the end was not worth huge waste of time it takes to get there.
  • The characters - to an extent. They were kinda sweet, in a young-love sort of way.

Overall: 
  • Pamela Morsi's The Love Charm was by far the least favorite of Morsi's books that I've read so far. It reminded me of what I don't like in friends-to-lovers storylines, and how disappointing heroes can be when they lack backbone. It is not a novel I would recommend. 

*There is one love scene in the book, as well as one "almost" love scene. Fairly mild in content.

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