Enjoyable but deep as a puddle
Author: Samantha Young
Publisher: Penguin Books
What do you do when you don’t know which approach to take on reviewing a book that isn’t exactly your cup of tea, doesn’t even come close to what literature is, even contemporary one at that, but in spite of all this you thoroughly enjoyed it?
On Dublin Street started off as a self-publishing sensation from twenty-six-year-old Scottish Samantha Young that quickly became a bestseller, included on the prestigious New York Times list with over 150.000 eBook copies sold in its first month of publication.
I must admit that the first thing that caught my attention was the title, a very misleading one at that since I wrongly made a James Joyce association or even presumed that the novel would emphasize some aspects of the street or the town in which the street was located at as a metaphor for some personal anguish. Wrong, again I’m afraid.
The story centers around Jocelyn Butler, an American that left her past behind four years ago to move to Scotland in an attempt to outrun her past and exile her grief to another continent while ignoring all attempts at leading a healthy emotional life and forging any significant and real emotional bond with anyone be it a friend, roommate or lover. But all that is bound to change when her college roommate of four years, Rhian, decides to move to London and Joss is forced to find another place to live. Dublin Street seems at first like a safe haven or heaven on Earth with its Architectural Digest apartment and sweet as can be Ellie, the other young woman that posted the ad for a flat mate. But our heroine will soon find out that to get to heaven you must first go through hell in the form of annoyance, sexual tension and dripping sex-appeal all encapsulated in the tall dark and devilishly handsome Braden Carmichael, Ellie’s step brother.
From here on out we get all the possible clichés ever encountered in a romance novel that would have been bearable if not for the slap in the face shallowness that seems to cling to the book’s pages.
Joss is presented as a regular gal, not some blonde glamazon substitute-for-a-model that seems to be Branden’s type, that somehow seems to catchy his eye, undivided attention and patience. She has emotional issues a mile long and from that all sort or unattractive behaviors seem to emerge like anger, bitchiness, jealousy, insecurity and a tendency to just run off when emotions run high. The male character on the other hand is possessive and slides towards cave man behavior at some point along the way. And while that may seem fun at first since we have the collision of two strong characters it just gets boring…fast because it’s predictable and you already sense what you’ll find 10-20 pages down the line.
Even though there was potential to go beyond the chemistry of the two and the subsequent love story the book just barely scratches the surface and nips in the bud with sex scenes that are a little too heavy on the arousal part to have any real chance for interesting development.
Sure, you may judge me for pointing out flaws or to put it nicer – shortcomings – of the book by saying that this style is normal for romance novels but I beg to differ since I’ve read in my time quite a few Sandra Brown novels that had honest and loveable characters that even though were madly in love or attracted to one another with magnetic force seemed somehow to steer clear of sappiness, exaggeration or shallowness. They had their own flaws and dramas that played on the reader’s heart strings but delivered in terms of content and consistency without using sex scenes as a universal cure for plot holes and one toned characters.
As a conclusion and an answer to the question “should you read it?” I would say yes because in spite of all its shortcomings it is still entertaining and somewhat fun to read. We are all romantics at heart and a good, naughty love story will warm even the coldest cynic, a bit. I judged they way it was written, not the overall effect on the reader, which is undeniably a good one. If you have a long train ride ahead of you or need some extra light reading for May 1st this would fit the bill, just make sure there’s no one around you on some chapters because some scenes might make innocent bystanders blush scarlet red.
The easy entertaining style in which it was written and the undeniable chemistry between the characters make this book a page-turner.
Ever since E. L. James’ 50 Shades of whatever some fancy themselves writers without the actual material to sustain a robust novel hence all the clichés and extra saucy scenes.
If in need of a little weekend relaxation away or on vacation this book would be a suitable way of passing the time. In terms of reference it is well under a Sandra Brown novel but above an E. L. James one.