Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-508-3
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Okay, Love Shack loses me from the first page itself, when our heroine Felicity Newhouse – in a story all about houses, here’s a big eyeroll at the last name – calls the banker evil because he has the temerity to reject her loan application on the reasonable fact that she has not demonstrated that she has any good credit. I don’t blame Felicity for her feeling this way, as heaven knows, I confess to have less than charitable thoughts myself about bankers, lawyers, and politicians now and then. No, I cringe because the author seems to be dumping on me that kind of heroine – the la, la, la one-head-in-the-clouds feels-before-facts kind.
What Felicity wants to do is to renovate trailers and resell them as homes to members of her arty-farty hippie dipstick community. She wants to do this without any backers or support, and her “demonstration of good credit” is that, hey, she just has to sell three houses to be able to stay repaying the loan. Oh, and she doesn’t care about profits, she is all about the charity. As you can imagine, that doesn’t inspire confidence, so our hero Brandon Halston rejects her loan application. Somehow the news station gets hold of the story and has Felicity sharing with her story about how five evil banks rejected her application, so boo-hoo-hoo.
It turns out that Felicity’s plan to build tiny houses is actually fashionable, so there will be lots of buyers, and she also has a long line of supporters who will be her security network, so poor Brandon doesn’t stand a chance. To make amends for the bad PR, his employer has him staying a month with her for a reality TV show kind of thing, and of course, those two fall in love along the way.
I suspect that one’s enjoyment of Love Shack depends on her ability to tolerate a bunch of idealistic left-libertarianism mumbo jumbo that is rendered rather hypocritical by the fact that the character going all woo-hoo about these tenets shacks up with a bloke rich enough to make sure that she doesn’t pauper herself with her ventures. Felicity is basically a checklist heroine – she is a nudist, anti-corporate, all for the community type who at the same time knows everything and anything, and will not hesitate to let you know. “Romantic moments” with Felicity is her telling Brandon what she knows he is feeling, as well as the motivations for such feelings, et cetera, because our heroine, people, knows. The whole thing is quite puzzling, as I have no idea why she can be so insightful or why the author thinks that a finger-waving didactic heroine designed to have little to no personality flaws is supposed to be appealing.
At any rate, this one is well written enough to be readable, but for the most part, it comes off as a little too obvious and heavy handed in its agenda. The second half of this story focuses more on the relationship and hence is a little better, but the damage has been done. The heroine never really recovers from her insufferable “I am better than everyone because I know the true way of living, and everyone else is evil for not giving me the things I am entitled to, to make my plans come to fruition!” antics early on, and the story can never shake off its basic Reddit-level propaganda vibes.