The Wild Rose Press, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-5092-1996-4
Contemporary Romance, 2018
I am one of those romance readers who will cheerfully admit that there is an element of wish fulfillment in some of the stories. Or, perhaps, a big bulk of the stories, especially since new adult gets lumped into romance at times. Heaven knows, probably 80% of books from that part of the genre are about supposedly plain chicks getting complimented by everyone as the most awesome thing ever even as these chicks protest disingenuously that they are really homely, and honestly, they have no idea why that shirtless bad boy with some generic Celtic-motive tattoo sleeve is so into them. Too much of such an element, however, and I get annoyed in a “Dear author, honestly, how insecure do you think I am, that I need these stories to validate myself?” way.
I mention all this because Lost on the Road to Love, its dramatic opening scene aside, is one of those not quite a new adult, somewhere in between kind of romances that is all about the author telling me that Chelsea Morrison is not the kind to attract men like Henry Rush, she is plain, she is not prostitute-y like every other pretty competition for Henry’s affections, blah blah blah, while the hero is ooh, she is the hottest thing ever, yadda yadda yadda.
I can tell you about the plot, but does it matter? It’s all about the reader vicariously living a life of getting swept away by some TV hot hunk despite protesting that she is the plainest rug ever. Oh, alright: she’s a camera person on a TV show in which he is one of the co-hosts, she has a crush on him since forever but surely he will not want any plain Iggy like her, but ooh, he remembers her, he wants to take her out, he likes her, he… TAKE THAT, ALL YOU THIN PRETTY SLAGS THAT STEAL ALL THE HOT BOYS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MINE, IMMA GONNA TRY TO BE HAPPY EATING BON-BONS AND READING THIS BOOK, PRETENDING THAT CHELS IS ME AND I HOPE YOU ALL GO STRAIGHT TO PERDITION!!!
Of course, the hot hero has hidden depths that only the heroine can connect with, so they have this special bond you see… at least until she gets the impression that he doesn’t think that she is the most awesome thing ever, and that’s when the insecurities rise again, and subsequent events conspire once again to reassure the heroine that, yes, dear, she is indeed a goddess. Everything is about her from start to finish.
There really isn’t much else here. The conflicts feel suspiciously like filler inserted so that everyone and the stars align to assure the heroine that she is truly beautiful and worthy of the hot guy’s abs, fat bank account, and big… er, love. That or to make the hero jealous, so that the heroine will realize that, why, even a plain Jane like her can attract the horndog attentions of the hottest dude on Planet Hot! Or to have characters assure the heroine that there is nothing wrong with her, she is awesome, and it is only those other stinky people out there that do not realize that she is better than all of us and, thus, deserve to be worshiped forever and ever.
And then, when I reach the last page, I look down at my tummy and the big tub of ice cream that I have finished cleaning up (true story) resting on it, and realize that the hot guy I had a crush on back in those days preferred the company of that thing who must surely used her morally depraved sex worker tactics to turn him oblivious to the beautiful true me underneath my fat chick exterior, and… and…
You know, I think I’d go for a second tub of ice cream. I get hungry every time I finish a story that feels too much like some vicarious cheap fantasy rather than a filling, solid story with compelling conflicts. I’m fine with my extra pounds and my appearance, I don’t mind knowing that I’d leave this world without ever playing strip poker with my imaginary Hollywood boyfriends, and I don’t need a story to be a vehicle for me to picture myself as some plain-but-not-really Jane finally landing a hot guy while acting all wide-eyed and self-depreciating like that annoying wretch from Jerry Maguire. Like that bearded lady from The Greatest Showman would say, this is me, I’m completely okay with that, and as a result, stories like Lost on the Road to Love don’t leave much of an emotional impact on me.