Ripping the Bodice by Inara Lavey

ripping bodice

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Got sex and romance on the brain? So does Cassandra Devon. She also has hard-boiled private eyes, dashing pirates, jet-setting super spies and other sexy rogues entertaining her in her surprisingly explicit subconscious. All these erotic daydreams make it hard to stay focused on Cassandra’s current dilemma: namely, rebuffing the advances of Connor, a wild Irish rascal who wants to play the starring role in her fantasies. Cassandra is only interested in getting together with Raphael, the tall, dark and handsome man of her dreams. May the best romance hero win! Walter Mitty meets Erica Jong in this wickedly funny and sexy hot comedy-romance from the author of Succubusted.

This is the story of Cassandra (a bad tempered office worker who consumes mass quantities of romance novels that star brooding Heathcliff-like heroes and TSTL heroines) and Connor (an Irish businessman). Cassandra has always daydreamed of being swept off her feet by a brooding asshat hero. I mean, seriously? Who dreams of crazy men like Heathcliff?

Cassandra goes on a week vacation with her BFF Val where she meets Raphael (who reminds her visually of Heathcliff), Connor, and Trish (who comes across as an anorexic cougar on the prowl). Cassandra immediately is attracted to Raphael (who has a very easy going passive personality). Raphael likes her but thinks she is much calmer and nicer than she really is because she puts on a front whenever he’s around. Connor – who happens to not be as attractive as Raphael – likes Cassandra as well but somehow gets to see “the real her,” temper and all. Conner chases after Cassandra even though Cassandra made it clear that she likes Raphael and Raphael has told Connor that he likes Cassandra.

I liked the relationship that was being built between Cassandra and Connor – but the “love triangle” with Connor’s buddy Raphael was…boring. Raphael was not an interesting character and I’m sure part of that was deliberate on behalf of the author to show how unsuitable he was for Cassandra. Unfortunately this attempt left the character very static and makes it difficult for the reader to understand Cassandra’s attraction at all (yes, I get he’s cute…so what?).

The frequent daydreams that Cassandra has were horribly annoying. I skipped almost all of them except for a few in the very beginning & end. I find it difficult to believe that any functional woman could drop into such complex daydreams so completely so often. Cassandra often dropped into daydreams in the middle of social events and/or conversations, totally tuning out the people she’s with or talking to. Where I’m from that is considered extremely rude. The overly long italicized daydreams often happened in the middle of Cassandra’s inner dialogue – which was often confusing and slowed down the pace of the novel. I wanted Cassandra to figure out what she wanted without it having coached around a daydream. I assume that the daydreams were supposed to take the place of the character’s internal struggle. Meh. I think that the worse part of all the daydreams is that the final scene where the two characters get together is almost entirely an italicized daydream. Why? Oh why?

I had some issues with the wording, too. How many times are we going to talk about “cobalt blue” eyes? I get that Cassandra wants to be a TSTL romance heroine (which she does nicely) but don’t beat me over the head with it, please?? And then there’s parts like this:

“That doesn’t surprise me, either,” said Val, who obviously knew more than she was letting on.
“You know more than you’re letting on, don’t you?”
“Just sleep on it, Cassie. You’ll figure out what to do.” Val waved and vanished out the door. Her tea rose scent lingered behind and I sneezed.

In all honesty the relationship between Cassandra and Connor was interesting enough that the love triangle and the anorexic cougar were distractions and did not help make the story more interesting. In fact, it made it less interesting.

I have to admit that I find it ironic that the major “obstacle” that stands in the way of Cassandra & Connor’s romance is Cassandra’s obsession with romance book heroes. Cassandra even goes as far as to burn her romance books and after proclaiming them trash. Hey, isn’t this a romance book? I can admit that the book burning was rather offensive to me. She could have donated those books instead of burning them! Wasteful as well as TSTL.

All in all, a quick and fun read as long as you skip the daydreams and ignore the secondary characters.

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