Will you fall in love with ‘Paris is Really for Lovers’ by Scarlet Cassadine? I’ll outline what it was like to read it for me and you can decide for yourself if your money would be well-spent on this piece of fiction labeled as contemporary romance.
I had about as hard of a time reading this book as I had reading 50 Shades of Grey. Yet, I do it for a few reasons. First, because it does help me feel better about my own writing (and we all know my self-esteem is not the highest). Second, it concretely helps me see what doesn’t work in a piece so that I can avoid those types of pitfalls in my own. Third, if I’ve already paid for it and it’s written by an indie author, I’m going to finish it in support of someone who is doing what they love, regardless of what my opinion about it may be.
Why It Was So Difficult To Finish
Imagine you have a close friend who is still learning English, has never been the most coherent storyteller, and is completely shit-faced. If you can visualize that person trying to tell you the story of how she met and married her second husband, you get a feel for what it’s like to try to read and comprehend what goes on in this book.
And, as I request of my own beta readers in their reviews, I won’t just toss that opinion out there and let it sit. I’ll back up what I noticed. Just so that you’ve been warned, “a knock appeared at the door” 🤔 and the use of ‘then’ in place of ‘than’ are rampant throughout this piece.
Here are just a few more examples of sections that shocked me–especially since, in the opening, someone was credited with having edited the book! 😱
The first few lines of the story:
It was all planned.
Planned on how Tia Ambers was going to be able to have a full mental break from her home-bound duties.
Sadly, it was at this point that I realized reading this book was going to be grueling. And I was not proven wrong. I put ‘full mental break’ in orange because I believe I understand what she meant, but I have most often heard ‘mental break’ being used to describe acute psychosis due to my professional background.
A few paragraphs later:
He popped the trunk and unloaded her suitcase and carry-on tote brief case bag.
That’s a lot of different types of bags in a single product. Is it really all of those at the same time, was this a typo, or is this really what that author meant to say?
And a few paragraphs after that:
She was 14 when her parents took her [to Paris for the first time]. She remembered how huge the Eiffel Tower was and also the food was different. It was richer in spice and flavor and very decorative. Nothing plan or bland about it. And all the buildings and outskirt drives.
‘And’ would suffice, as would a simple comma before ‘also.’ ‘The food was richer in spice…’ would flow just fine instead of breaking the idea up into two different sentences. The last part is just dangling out there on its own. There are a lot of lines like that in this book.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of clarity issues in the book. What I’ve shown you so far happens in just the front 4% of the book. You’ve got 96% more of this to deal with.
There didn’t seem to be any character development here. The people listed were more like pawns that did whatever Cassadine wanted them to if it seemed convenient for her at the time.
Tia overwhelmingly allows herself to be moved around by the people surrounding her. She’s a constant damsel-in-distress. She does nothing about the fact that her husband is cheating on her, for example. Another guy, Paul, actually sets up a meeting with a divorce lawyer FOR HER in order to get it done–he even takes her to the meeting himself.
Paul does a lot of work for on Tia’s behalf–even buys the house the Ambers have been living in from Tia’s parents so she can continue living in it without issue–yet he never gets angry or resentful, he never seems exhausted or questioning of the relationship or Tia. He just takes everything in stride and is the perfect gentleman everywhere but in the bedroom.
These issues with character realism were most noticeable after Tia got raped. Once they did have sex again for the first time in a while, Tia had no hesitancy about the act. Then, even when Paul (for who knows what reason) physically restrains her with his hands during sex (as was done to her during the rape), she’s perfectly fine with it, even says she “loved it.”
The vast majority of people I’ve worked with who have experienced rape have trouble having any intimate contact for months, often years. And intimate contact can be something as simple as a touch, holding hands, or kissing. But it seemed to me that, because Cassadine was ready to write the rest of the book, she just pretended that the rape didn’t affect Tia very strongly and kept on with the story.
In a nutshell:
Tia goes on a trip to Paris and meets a man, Paul, who works at a competing company and sweeps her off her feet. She decides she wants to leave her cheating husband and be with Paul. She’s raped by a guest staying in the same hotel as her one night and Paul gets her treated for her wounds. Paul lets her heal at his nearby estate and they return to the United States together after Paul offers her a job and her own company when she’s ready. After Tia accepts the job offer, Paul initiates and facilitates Tia’s divorce from her husband. Paul buys Tia’s house from Tia’s parents. Tia finds out she’s pregnant with Paul’s child. Paul proposes. Tia accepts. Tia decides to go on a trip to Mississippi to see an aunt she hasn’t met with in over 10 years. The end.
That’s the ‘plot,’ but I don’t recognize a story arc. Tia didn’t change as a person, only her circumstances were manipulated by Paul. There was no real tension or mountain to climb. There were little mole hills that Paul launched her over or that magically went away, but nothing that she had to work through on her own.
Another oddity was that Paul’s ex-wife came to a business event Tia had organized for the company. Paul disappears with his ex somewhere, but Tia loses track of them. She goes to the bathroom and hears them having sex in one of the stalls. She sees Paul step out of the stall after his ex, wash his lips, and leave the bathroom. AFTER THAT is when Tia decides to tell Paul that she’s pregnant, then Paul proposes, then she accepts. Again, it’s like the bathroom incident didn’t take place. Or, maybe Tia doesn’t care, but that would seem odd because she just divorced somebody who cheated on her.
Overall Rating: 1 / 5 stars
⭐ __ __ __ __
I can’t in good conscience recommend spending money to read this book. There are so many issues that need to be addressed before I would even deem it a complete work of fiction. But, that’s just my opinion.
If you still want to read it, click the cover image below.
Baffling, I know, but the fact is: not everyone is a big poetry fan. 😀 However, even if you couldn’t tell the difference between a sonnet and a haiku (and wouldn’t care to), here are some tips to help you give your poet colleagues helpful feedback on their work in your writing groups and / or review the poetry of your favorite indie authors.
1. Relax and Contribute to the Poem’s Review
Even if you don’t think you “get” poetry, you can still be helpful. You do your fellow authors a disservice when you keep quiet just because you aren’t an expert (whatever the fuck that means) on poetry. Poetry is just another form of expression, especially emotional expression. Most poems are a mere reflection of an event (everything from a near-death experience to a passing thought while waiting for the bus) that the poet has strong feelings about. Treat the poem like that person is telling you about their day at work, that traumatic event, or that passing thought they had, in a flowery / gritty / cryptic way.
2. Be Honest About Your Reaction to the Poem
Guess what? Saying that you were confused is a valid answer!
There may have been parts of a poem that shocked you, intrigued you, scared you, or even lead you to feel angry or sad. If you experience any specific emotions, this can be what you share with the poet. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to react to a poem. Nodding back to tip number 1: Just relax.
3. Be Specific in Your Poem Review
If you were confused, try to flesh out why. Were there too many words used that you didn’t know the meaning of (signifying that the poet may want to look into simplifying the language)? Was there a total disconnect in your mind between what the poet wrote and what they said they were trying to convey (signifying that the poet may want to consider sharpening the imagery)?
If the poem lead you to feel sad, which line stood out as the most depressing to you? If the poem lead you to feel shocked, at which word, line, or stanza did you first have that reaction?
Arm yourself with these three tips whenever you go into a writing group that you know poets frequent and you should be able to stay involved in the discussion. Remember these as well when you are attempting to craft a review for a book of poetry in order to publicly support your fellow independent authors!
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Writing groups are a great way for independent authors to get support, make connections, find resources, and–perhaps most importantly– hear critique on their works in progress. However, getting this feedback without becoming resentful, angry, or sad can be tricky for some. Here are three things to remember during the critique delivery process that can help you actually enjoy it.
1. “This is what I’m here for.”
Remembering this can help ease some of the defensiveness you might feel when people start dissecting your writing. The entire reason that you joined the group and decided to submit your book / chapter / poem for critique was so that you could get honest feedback about how it could be better. If you didn’t join the group for this express purpose, then the fault really lies with you for presenting yourself as someone who wants to strengthen their craft, yet all you really wanted was for people to kiss your ass unjustifiably.
2. “How bad would it be if I’d published without knowing this?”
Many independent authors are self-published. This means that they have full control over the creation, revision, publishing, and marketing of their writing. Unless you’ve created a Cartel like I have, there’s a good chance that your writing groups are the only thing saving you from publishing something that is full of plot holes, grammatical errors, character inconsistencies and the like. If you find that your writing group is bringing up a bunch of problems that you missed, don’t look at it as an attack on you or your writing. See it as your reputation being pulled back from a cliff!
3. “No one is perfect.”
I have read books by many authors who are traditionally published (meaning they have teams of people and bundles of cash at their disposal to make sure that their writing is consistent, error-free, and as strong as possible), yet have several errors in them. If these bestselling authors with publishing powerhouses behind them can’t produce a perfect manuscript, how sane is it to believe that you will do so on your own? Hell, even with the feedback of your group?
The point is: Relax. Take the feedback you think is helpful. Ignore the feedback you don’t think fits. Just don’t ignore solid feedback because you didn’t like hearing it. That’s not fair to you, your writing, or your readers.