Book Review: The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson
Rake Tarbell is a hot mess.Waking up with the world’s worst hangover in a hotel room he doesn’t recognise, he doesn’t figure out he’s in Venice until he falls into the Grand Canal, and frankly he doesn’t get much tidier from there. He is a rich, entitled, careless, thoughtless brat, with the sole redeeming feature that he doesn’t like creeps who attempt to sexually harass or assault women. This, unfortunately, does not a good romance hero make.
MaryJanice Davidson has a really, really strange writing style, that reads like a stream of consciousness from someone with raging ADHD. Which would be fine if it was just one character’s POV, interesting, even, but when EVERY character reads like it? It just comes across as lazy and utterly unedited. There are plot points that didn’t make sense, like Rake making it a big deal that he’d never told Delaney his surname but she knew it anyway, but she TOLD HIM early on that she’d tracked him down to get his DNA. She knew EXACTLY who he was and he knew that, and ugh, just so many things didn’t add up.
There are way too many leaps of logic here with whole chunks of intervening stuff missed out. And yes, that is how an ADHD person’s brain works (ask me how I know… go on) but it just flat out does not work in a book. You need to go from point A to point Z via the whole alphabet pretty much in sequential order; you might be able to skip one letter and then allow the reader to assume it or point out later that it actually happened because it logically fits, but you can’t go “A, D, Q, G, H, T, Z! Look, there’s the whole story!” Because your readers - yes, even the ADHD ones - are going to say, “what the actual heck just happened?”
The author is trying so hard to make this funny. But it’s the literary equivalent of inserting a loud laugh track regularly to try and encourage your actual audience to laugh, and for me it just fell utterly flat. I didn’t like Rake, I couldn’t imagine what Delaney saw in him. Delaney herself actually had some good features as a character but we never got to know her well enough; the story spent way too much time in Rake’s annoying and self-centred head, making the heroine of the story a mystery to the reader, which just does not work in romance. Romance readers want to be in the heroine’s head, able to identify with her, not wondering what she’s up to and why she’s bothering with this chump. Actually, if we’d been in Delaney’s head watching Rake’s bumbling antics, this might have been as funny as the author obviously wanted it to be.
As things are, it’s just a hot, unfunny mess with a garbled plot and a thoroughly unlikable hero. One star.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.