Heidi Belleau Reads

I write queer erotica and romance. I read it too!
The Happy Onion - Ally Blue This was a tough book for me. On the one hand, I loved the concept, and the title drew me to it instantly.

On the other, I just didn't gel with it. It's not that it was poorly written, but it just had problems that kept me from enjoying it. First off, and I know this isn't the author's fault, is the fact that the formatting was borked. Italics didn't show up whatsoever, and in a book that is constantly directly quoting characters' thoughts, that kind of error is confusing and jarring. It's on the level of reading an entire book without quotation marks.

Like I said, I loved the concept. However, the conflict in this, despite its promise, read as very artificial. The characters fought a lot, but made up so quickly and easily that I never felt like there was ever any danger to their relationship. I know how it feels to say something I regret instantly, but it doesn't happen all the time. Making up shouldn't be so easy, especially when you're reading a book in which that's the main source of conflict between the characters. The same with the "dark reason" why Thom didn't want to date his boss. Since it never really affected their relationship in any way we witnessed (since the narrative skipped all the weeks they tried not to date), when it was revealed it was a big pile of "Yeah, so?" I kept waiting for his secret to rear its ugly head in a way that added to the conflict, but it never did.

I think a lot of people will still like this book. It has a snappy sense of humour and a few lines of dialogue that made me laugh out loud, which I appreciate. If its sense of humour and yours match up, you'll probably overlook the plot problems I had above and really have fun reading it. However, the humour only worked for me about 25% of the time, and the rest of it made me alternately groan or get incredibly uncomfortable (rape: it's not a joke. seriously. please don't. a two second throwaway joke is not worth emotionally hurting your readers.)

The two leads had some wonderful moments together and the sex was great, so I genuinely do wish that the conflicts the book presented actually carried some weight. As it was, many interesting issues were touched on (homophobia, abuse, political differences between partners, corporate greed, the conflict in interest that comes from working for someone you might not agree with ethically but needing the job, etc.) but none of them had any room to breathe or make me care. These characters just had it way too easy. And even in a light, humourous book, I still need genuine adversity in a novel. Otherwise, what is there to cheer for?

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