The Driven Snowe
I’m thinking of issuing a fatwa against all writers who portray librarians as repressed sex pots. I’m a librarian, and while it’s interesting to see how my profession is portrayed in fiction, especially romance, too many romance writers tend to use the librarian as an archetype for the surface-frigid woman just waiting for a chance to let loose. The Driven Snowe unfortunately follows this formula. While the story was almost saved by a sympathetic hero, a major character inconsistency made this a frustrating read for me.
Angela Snowe thinks she’s just been handed a death sentence. A doctor visit on a Friday uncovers a suspicious lump on her breast, and she can’t get in for a mammogram until Monday. Her grandmother died of a fast-moving breast cancer, and Angela concludes that the same disease has claimed her. She begins to think about all the things she’s never done: never traveled, never taken cooking or yoga classes, never gotten laid. She decides to cram as much living into what little time she may have left. The first item on her agenda is to lose her virginity, and she has just the candidate to do the honors for her – local heartthrob Josh Montgomery.
At first Josh turns down Angela’s outrageous proposition, but when he sees that she’s serious about losing her virginity tonight, and if he won’t do it she’ll get someone else, his protective nature kicks in. He tells himself that he’s just going to sleep with Angela to save her from harm, and takes her to his place for what turns out to be the best sex he’s ever had. The next morning she’s gone, leaving no clue as to her identity, except that she knew him in high school. Let’s see – where do they keep old yearbooks? The public library, maybe? Monday morning Josh heads over to the library and he finds not just the name he’s searching for, but Angela as well.
By this time she’s been to the doctor and learned that the lump on her breast is not, in fact, cancerous, and she worried over nothing. But the sex was so liberating that she’s resolved to stick to her experience-broadening agenda anyway. She agrees to see Josh again, but on her terms. Suddenly her schedule is full, and she just fits him in, as it were, when she can. Much to his surprise, this arrangement just doesn’t suit Josh – the more he sees of Angela, the more he wants of her, and not merely in the physical sense. The problem is, he just can’t seem to convince her of that.
This story contains several plot clichés that irritate me to no end: an initially uptight, virginal (and, at almost thirty, never orgasmic) librarian, a false death sentence, and a stud with a great big heart of gold. A heart so big, in fact, that he just can’t say no when said virginal librarian requests what amounts to a pity f – er, screw from him. And of course, it turns out to be the best lay of his life.
I liked Josh. Sure, he’s just a modern version of the Duke of Slut, but he’s come to realize that his life is lacking something, and it doesn’t take him long to figure out whatit might be, or whom he needs to make it complete. Angela, however, is just a contradictory character from the start. I understand that her grandmother’s death might scare her into looking before she leaps, but since she’s in a profession that values the gathering of information before deciding anything, her impulsiveness just strikes me as completely out of character. Her inflexibility regarding the “rules” she’s set up for the relationship reinforced this initial inconsistency.
While I found Ms. Yardley’s style readable enough, I’m still annoyed by her stereotypical depiction of an uptight librarian. I much prefer Linda Howard’s Open Season; at least that character has the right background details (library science is a master’s degree, not a bachelor’s) and her motivation is more credible. Harlequin claims to be “pushing the envelope” with its Blaze line, and indeed, there’s stuff in here I never thought I’d see coming out of Toronto. The author is allowed to use the “f” word, there’s more clinical and slang verbiage used for body parts, and the sex is more gymnastic and way more frequent. But to be honest, it didn’t make the book that much hotter for me. If they can just up the emotional notch as much as they seem to have the physical, the line may get as hot as they claim. And a good way to do that is to start with a sympathetic heroine and a plausible premise, neither of which I found in The Driven Snowe.
P. S. You may have noticed my repeated use of the word “just” in the course of the review. Distracting, isn’t it? Well, it’s deliberate. That word pops up on just about every page of the book. It got so distracting that, halfway through, I just started circling it whenever I saw it; on one page it appeared six times. Just another niggle.