by Tom Bromley, contemporary (2002)
Pan, £5.99, ISBN 0-330-48985-2
My husband liked this book. A lot. He says that it reminds him of a more gentle, less drugged-up Almost Famous (that pretty good Cameron Crowe movie, have you watched it?). I have my doubts, but he shushed me down.
I think that there's no reason someone fun, sexually aggressive, and alpha like Lauren to even look at our whiny, plain hero Will Harding.
"Reverse the gender and you will get my major complaint about the books you read," he tells me. "I don't know which man will want a whiny, weepy heroine like those in so many romance novels."
"But - " I start to say.
"Oh no, don't start about Lauren having a blind spot where her boyfriend (the cheating Rich Young) is concerned. Romance heroes and their nasty mistresses, remember?"
Drats. Foiled again.
"How about - "
Mr Know It All And Will Soon Be Eating Burned Toast says smugly, "Eh, so what if the hero doesn't really do anything to deserve his happy ending? How many romance heroines you know actually do anything for themselves?"
Ooh, I am so vexed! "How you been visiting my website?" I demanded most petulantly to know.
"I have better things to do. Hey, where's the remote? The World Cup, the World Cup, where's the remote?"
Anyway, I don't want to be called sexist, and I guess fair's fair. Tom Bromley's debut is a romance novel, make no mistake - Will is a romance heroine through and through, shy and virginal and waiting for a Princess Charming to sweep him off his feet. He is a bassist in a band led by Rich Young, and Rich's girlfriend is Lauren, whom Will has a big crush on. Oh, the complications. This is Eddie And The Cruisers all over again.
What could have been a simple and familiar love story, however, is made fun by the fact that the author knows his music. Set in the post-1980s Manchester psychadelic rock era and the dawning of Nirvana mania, there are times when I hear tracks by the Stone Dragons and Manic Street Preachers in my head as I turn the pages. Will is also a Queen fan - that's how this book gets its title - and trust me, he does act like a Queen fan. Be warned: some of Will's actions smack of homophobia, but how many politically correct rock fans do you know anyway? (Which always crack me up, as let's face it, rock stars are some of the most androgynous men ever and their stage antics reek of thick, thick homoerotic tensions - all those cheek-to-cheek yelling into the microphones between the lead singer and the lead guitarist and you tell me they are macho 100% straight people? Wanna buy a bridge in the Sahara?)
"Hey, be fair!" my husband tells me. "Passive, sissy men need love too! Besides, Will's funny."
Yes, he is. Whiny, but very witty, and perfectly British. He may grow up to be Damon Albarn one day, I think. And Damon Albarn's so cool.
Oh... anyway, whatever really. I've had fun with Crazy Little Thing Called Love, whiny pipsqueak hero and all, so I guess I shouldn't be so hard on Will. I still think Lauren can do better, but what do I know? I read books where sometimes the silliest woman gets the sexiest men, and while I don't like those books, I guess it wouldn't be fair to rip Tom Bromley more just because the whiny one here is the male "heroine". Whiny's whiny, but fun's fun. And I had fun. So...
"88," hubby calls from the background.
Oh shut up and watch the game, will ya? This is my website, buster.
This book at Amazon UK
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