I’m new to CBR this year, and you all seem to really like your romances. Outside of the classics and a few mainstreams, I have yet to get the genre to really speak to me. I’m pretty pragmatic by nature, so I’m not easily swept away. My dislike for romance makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me, not that there’s something wrong with romances. So I try and try again.
So, here we are. Again. Someone (I’m sorry I can’t remember who), mentioned Goodreads’ Vaginal Fantasy book club (Felicia Day is the Grand Dutchess), which chooses romances with a strong female lead (yay!). Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic is this month’s choice. And it was free for Kindle! The odds were stacked in my favor.
Except that this story isn’t a romance. It’s a mystery, and a weak one at that.
Jade is a half-witch, living in Vancouver with her witch grandmother, and her foster sister Sienna. She owns a cupcake bakery, and her cupcakes make 9,000,000 appearances in the book and they all sound delicious. Jade is a Dowser, which means she attracts magic and she can sense different kinds of magic. When some murders take place in the magical community, Jade suddenly finds herself being sought out by vampires and werewolves, first as a suspect, and then as a way to track the real perpetrator.
I had to go back and check, and Goodreads does indeed have this tagged as a romance. But outside of meeting one character that Jade “could have loved”, there is no romance. Which should be great for me, but c’mon, I was trying to stretch here! The mystery is blazingly obvious from very early on. So much so, that I was waiting and waiting for the “real killer” plot to emerge, as so many obvious clues could only be red herrings. Nope. The last quarter of the book was a boring breeze as I sped to the inevitable conclusion.
The other thing that super-super bugged me is a lot of weird brand placement. Jade needs to go on some terrifying outing with a vampire and werewolves, and it specifies that she chooses her Hunter High-Gloss whatever boots. Huh? It’s jarring, and will eventually date the book. There were also very traumatic scenarios for Jade that would be followed by her thoughts about how her hair looked, or how she changed into her “tank top and panties”. I don’t think girls say “panties”. Girl should have been catatonic.
This didn’t work out for me, but it’s not a strike against romances. I’m free to try again. The right romance is out there for me. Maybe I am a romantic at heart, after all.