Monday, May 14, 2007

The Price of Pleasure, by Kresley Cole [1]

*/***** (1/5)

My 3rd Kresley Cole book after THE CAPTAIN OF ALL PLEASURES and A HUNGER LIKE NO HUNGER, and by far and away, the worst. Worst for the pining, feminine Grant, worst for the bitchy, annoying Victoria, and worst for the boring, unbearable oh-my-god-I-can't-marry-you-until-you-say-I-Love-You-even-though -your-actions-already-relay-it storyline, and rendered in the worst possible ways. Yeah, I need to seriously take a serious backseat from Kresley Cole, so unfortunate because I did enjoy THE CAPTAIN OF ALL PLEASURES.

Grant Sutherland is our Kresley-Cole typical flavor of tall, dark, broad-shouldered and handsome. We're told he plans everything, and that's he's calculating and cold. He sets off on a ocean voyage as captain of a ship to seek for a dying earl's family, shipwrecked at sea. In return for finding any member(s) of the earl's family, Grant will earn Belmont Court, the earl's estate. The first time we see Grant, he's is like a hormone-crazed stallion after his mare. Cold? Detached? Huh?

Victoria Dearbourne, the dying earl's granddaughter, has been shipwrecked, witnessed the death of both her father and mother, buried her mother, and has been sustaining herself for 8 years on an island with a friend (Miss Scout). Unlike tortured-past heroes of the romance genre however, Victoria scoffs at the notion of consolation and compassion, pfft, she needs no such thing! When asked if she regrets anything about the situation from the past which found Victoria and Cammy amongst some bad sailors, Victoria replies she wishes she hit the guy instead of her friend Cammy. And get this. Even though Grant's wounded past doesn't compare to Victoria's, it's Grant that mopes around and needs time to get over himself... Oh. My. God.

After Grant finds Victoria on the island, we're treated to some painful Grant pining for the rest of the novel. Endlessly. Incessantly. Over and over. Repetitively. Again and again.

Possible SPOILERS ahead.

The beginning of THE PRICE OF PLEASURE comprises of endless passages of introspection, mostly of a supposedly "cold" Grant pining, swooning, and flushing over Victoria. I really didn't see a plausible transformation from the cold Grant we saw in THE CAPTAIN OF ALL PLEASURES to the Grant that runs after Victoria on first sight and constantly pines for her.

The purpose of THE PRICE OF PLEASURE becomes quickly and abundantly clear: to break down Grant's restraint and propriety (which is pretty much already broken down around Victoria), and to grind away his calculating, planning nature (which is pretty much gone since he behaves like a flushed schoolgirl around Victoria). The book makes his planning, calculating nature sound evil, as if he's dying inside from it. Ian even makes a comment about it to Victoria, that Grant's calculating nature is making Grant die inside. Only then does Victoria take pity on him and finds herself more curious about him. Surely there's some merit to planning for the future? No, says THE PRICE OF PLEASURE. Instinct, impulse 100% all the way!

Even though Victoria is tenfold more bitchy and arrogant than Grant, THE PRICE OF PLEASURE hones in on disintegrating - as the book sees it - _every single one_ of Grant's character flaws. There doesn't seem to be any redeemable part of his detached, planning nature. When Victoria easily dodges and verbally barbs with a couple of high-society ladies at Whitestone as if she was born to do it, Grant starts questioning his own criticizing of Victoria's carefree personality. Not even a shred of that planning, calculating nature is considered good in THE PRICE OF PLEASURE, indeed, the price of Grant's pleasure is stripping him of his very planning nature. I ask again, surely planning for the future and having a sense responsibility has some merit? No, not according to THE PRICE OF PLEASURE.

At one point, Victoria & Grant are talking through their misunderstandings at Whitestone and Victoria tells Grant she loves him. When the words affection aren't returned, we're left with -- wait for it -- ah yes, yet another story of getting the guy to say the words, "I love you" after the two are separated. Excuse me... [Barf] Is hearing the words really that much more needed than the way Grant already acts towards Victoria, as if she's his life? Really?

I don't think I've seen a guy flush as many times as Grant Sutherland does in THE PRICE OF PLEASURE. In the beginning, I think our "cold, calculating" Grant incessantly flushes over Victoria. If he isn't flushing, he's swooning over Victoria's rather exposed assets on the island, and accepting her barbs and pranks with great joy, all the while harboring a feral need to protect Victoria.

I almost had to throw up when there was a long conversation between Grant & Victoria dealing with propriety, civilized behavior and instinct. Obviously, the point of these early chapters appears to involve breaking down a Grant's cold nature, continuing to flush and swoon like a girl. Can someone point to any evidence of Grant's calculating nature other than being told that he's calculating? Can someone be as stupid as Grant when he scolds Victoria for not being more civilized on an island when she's obviously trying to survive? Holy peanuts batman, can you make a character look as dumb as THE PRICE OF PLEASURE makes Grant out to be?! I understand he wants to be calculating but surely he could recognize that you have to forgo some civilized liberties when you're stranded on an island trying to survive. I don't think even a 13 year-old boy coming into maturity could relate to Grant's reasoning and pining characterization.

Our over-the-top, bitchy heroine's arrogance takes the typical headstrong-heroine routine in romance stories to new heights. She grinds Grant to the ground both from a personality stand-point and from a physical stand-point. She obviously has the upper hand on the island, constantly eluding him and wearing him down, but she also makes him look like dimwit from a personality/intelligence perspective. Especially during the philosophical conversation over propriety and instinct... I wanted to see Grant at least try to wear down her grating arrogance somehow, but no such luck, our supposedly cold and calculating Grant is always flushing and in fierce-protection mode over Victoria!

Okay, I get it. Grant/planning = bad. Victoria/impulsiveness = good.

When Grant hears that Victoria's grandfather has finally passed away, he returns to the Court and -- get this -- apologizes to Victoria for behaving like an ass last they met. Uhm last they met, he begged her again and again to marry him, says that he cares for her, that he respects her, and she demanded he verbalize the words, "I love you," when he couldn't because he didn't know what love was, she promptly shuts the door in his face. He doesn't know what love is (apparently Victoria does and has no problems recognizing it), and even though his every action and thought CENTERS around Victoria, Kresley Cole needs to have Grant apologize to Victoria for behaving like an ass? Okay.

Victoria appears to be superwoman. She's able to survive on an island for 8 years, build a home on the island from only what they find on the island as a teenager (and a home that lasts), outwit Grant, ride a ship like she was born to do it, and re-finance her estate and know everything about it even though she has no experience in the matter. Out of nowhere, there's a plot with her working through the Belmont Court finance records and discovers an error in the wool sales. I thought Grant would excel in studying finance records at least? Uh, why is Grant in this novel? For the muscled skin show and booty calls for Victoria?

I mean we obviously know the whole point of THE PRICE OF PLEASURE; that is, for Victoria to erode Grant's absent calculating personality and put a kink in his well laid-out plans for the future, but gawdalmighty can we please strangle Victoria after?!

While we're at it, I can't remember the last time I wanted to strangle the life out of both of our leading pair as much Victoria and Grant. Please, kill them both...

The book should be re-titled: GRINDING GRANT SUTHERLAND, because we know that's the whole point. Grant pines over Victoria endlessly, Victoria just turns into superwoman with a singular goal in everything she endeavors to do without a second glance to Grant. Abusing Grant seems to be Victoria's favorite hobby, whether it's raising the stakes on him every time he meets one of her demands, or something else, and the book makes it seem like Grant is to blame for everything. Towards the end, Victoria makes it a sport to keep Grant from sleeping, after days of helping Victoria no less. Whenever something hits Grant while he's working, Victoria isn't concerned, she's laughing. Jesus mother of God.

What's funny is I started really getting into the Cammy Scott - Stephen Winfield storyline just for a reprieve from Grant's endless dithering, introspection and pining over Victoria. Please, please, PLEASE anyone but Victoria & Grant!

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