Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Lambert’s Pride

with 3 comments

By Lynn A. Coleman & Rachel Hauck

lambertspride

Available most cheaply @Heartsong Presents
Read: November 2006
Rating: WEAK.

Welcome to another edition of “I had to read it for school!” Tonight we delve into the perplexing realm of “Inspirational” (ie, Christian) romance novels. Yes, it’s true–religious fundamentalists are now publishing whole lines of romance novels featuring a menage a trois of Man, Woman, and God.

As you can see, it didn’t even make the “Fluff” category, which is reserved for happy/silly/indulgent things.

Lets start by defining the Christian Romance Novel–which is what my school project is all about. (Yes, I brought it on myself.) From what I’ve found in my research thus far, the books are targeted towards and read by evangelical Christians. They don’t go graphic sex, or any sex at all (unless they’re married and it’s off-screen!) and even dancing is Not Appropriate. Instead, the focus is on the emotional and spiritual development of hero and heroine, and their coming together in the eyes of the Lord.

If you’ve gathered anything about me from reading these reviews, you should be guffawing right about now. But I made it to the end, so shut yer trap and lets talk about the book.

The prideful Lambert in the title is Ms. Elizabeth Lambert, whose prideful crime is a desire to go on to grad school and become a nuclear engineer. She is a very goal-oriented person and believes that her accomplishments are a measure of her success–no grad school means no success. But her parents decided that she needed to get out of academia for a while and so they’ve made a deal with her; spend the summer after undergrad at the family home in New Hampshire getting some work experience and they’ll pay her way through her masters. I know I’d jump at that.

In the course of her two jobs (‘I’m here to work, so I’m gonna WORK!’)  she falls in with Kavan Donovan (What–Kavan? Seriously?), a ranger with the forest association. He is immediately attracted to her and finds excuses to drop by and see her as often as possible. She can feel herself falling for him, but she made a promise to herself not to fall in love until she accomplished her academic and career goals. So, this is not part of the plan and it must not be encouraged.

Now, here’s where the religion bit comes in. Kavan has a hardcore close thang with Jesus going on. They talk to each other. Yes, he gets responses. Usually very brief ones, like “Go Inside” or “Stop” but they are indeed responses. As such, he prays about everything–including Elizabeth. He trusts in God to lead her to him, or it’s just not meant to be.

For her part, Elizabeth was raised in the same faith but at school she fell out of practic, and is now finding the comforts of prayer once again. However, she’s less willing to wait around for things–it’s not how she operates. She gets angry at Kavan for putting even his reputation (which is taking a serious beating right about then) to God to repair, protect, etc.

All in all, I found the religious part to be really bizarre. I’m a lifelong atheist, ok? This is all totally foreign to me. So, I bluster a bit at what boggles my brain, and then I move on.

The writing. The ‘romance.’ This is territory I’m familiar with.

The writing sucks. Not tearmyeyesout sucks, but hityouoverthehead one minute and then whatinthe–? the next. Take this problem Kavan is having at work. He’s doing a construction project and ordered lumber, and Elizabeth works for the company he’s ordering the lumber from.  On their first not-a-date she notices his cool signature. At work the next day she finds an order for the forest association for cherry wood in his name. Cherry is some mighty expensive wood. She calls the boss who says “Naw, we don’t do cherry for the forest association!” but he doesn’t ask her why she’s asking and she never offers. She also doesn’t ask Kavan–even after Kavan says that he’s in trouble at work because accounting says he’s over-budget. Nada. He, in turn, doesn’t do anything useful AT work to prove to the boss that he’s not overspending or embezzling. Boss says, “Donovan! Look at this!” “This is a summary report. It tells me nothing.” “Well, fix it!” So naturally Kavan doesn’t call accounting for a detailed report OR bring in HIS records of what he spent to show to accounting or his boss. Heaven forbid these people TALK TO EACH OTHER about the GREAT BIG MYSTERY. But of course then we wouldn’t have a subplot, would we? It takes Elizabeth making little worried noises to herself for 100 pages because she works up the sense to see if the signatures all match Kavan’s HIGHLY DISTINCTIVE signature. We never find out who it was that was buying teak and mahogany on the state’s dime.

I’m ok with a lot of things, but when I can see it coming from the first 50 pages, I get pissy.

Also poor? Off the bat, Kavan goes chasing down poachers and falls down a ridge and does his knee in. Right after their first not-a-date, like, a week or two later, Kavan gets caught up on a burning mountainside and saves the fire crew with him while Elizabeth frets down below over this dude she barely knows and swears she doesn’t care about–not even as an official friend at that point. Anyone with ANY sense knows that a big fire scene goes at the END of the book so that when she rushes into his arms after seeing him come down safely is the CLIMAX and they then go on to live happily ever after. Instead, it’s in the early middle. WTF, man? I also have my doubts about the timeframe for his knee healing, but that may just be because I’ve managed to dislocate both kneecaps and know how long it takes for knees to heal. Hurr.

Those are my big plot issues. Keep in mind that this is a very short book–170 pages. There’s not a lot of room for error in there. As such, there are big leaps in time, and right after something sweet or important in the relationship’s progress happens–poof, cut to next week! We see NUFFINK.

One of the principle components of Christian romances is that they aren’t graphic. They don’t talk about ‘need’ or ‘desire’ or how sexy or hot that bod is. It’s all above the belt–preferably well above the tits, too. I went in knowing there would probably only be some light kissing, but this book denied me my fluff! No flirty conversations over pizza! No blushiness! None of those sweet, sort of awkward goodbye moments at the door after dark! I strongly object to this, Heartsong! How am I supposed to feel for these characters if there is no sappiness to indulge in?! I read romance as an indulgence. Let me indulge-!!

…but I don’t think evangelicals are very keen on indulgence in any form. Er.

Which brings me back to the immediate question of how Evengelical Christian and Romance Novel are allowed to co-exist–nay, merge–without the universe imploding.

I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t feel for them, and the ending was too damn neat.

There’s a reason I couldn’t find any of these books at the Strand.

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Written by Shen

November 26, 2006 at 3:23 am

3 Responses

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  1. Hi,

    This is Rachel Hauck, the “sucky” writer. 😉 I’m sorry you didn’t like Lambert’s Pride at all.

    One of the things about Heartsong Romances – they are VERY SWEET. And the guidelines are extremely strict. Certain words can’t be used, like good grief, certain social situations like dancing are not accept in this line. Not true for all CBA fiction, but in this particular set of books.

    Light kissing is about all one can write in a Heartsong. 🙂

    While this book doesn’t appeal to you, it appeals to many women who like to read about people who struggle in faith and overcome.

    One reader wrote to us to say she never felt successful until she read this book and the line where Grandpa tells Elizabeth because she knows Jesus makes her automatically successful.

    It really touched the reader. To me, that’s worth it. We’ve had lots of letters how people felt encouraged that God loved them via this book.

    Again, that’s worth it to me.

    This was my first book. Lynn was my mentor and editor. I write chick lit now.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and write about this book. 😉

    Oh, there are 2 more Lambert books. 😉 They are coming out in a compilation next month – New Hampshire Weddings.

    Thanks, again. 🙂

    Rachel

    Rachel Hauck

    February 13, 2007 at 10:14 am

  2. Hey, me again,

    You raise valid points about the office situation with Kavan and Elizabeth.

    But, also, if you’ve worked in corp world, not everyone asks questions. 🙂 This the excuse for the lame plot point.

    As for the fire, every book needs some dramatic middle event. This I know from studying the craft. Middles tend to sag and there is always a need for a major story point.

    After that, you work toward ending the story.

    Probably, from the outside, I’d read the book and make the same assumptions.

    From the inside, as the writer, it’s impossible to know all the ways a story can go, or how someone will react. I try to logically think off all the things can happen and also try to do things that are plausible.

    Okay, that’s my end of the discussion.

    Rachel 🙂

    Rachel Hauck

    February 13, 2007 at 11:05 am

  3. […] school project, the same as Lambert’s Pride. I discovered that Harlequin has, in fact, been publishing evangelical Christian Chick Lit! Yes, […]


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