Roseanne Beck, $7.99, ISBN 978-1985204867
Paranormal Romance, 2018
The back synopsis of Roseanne Beck’s Talk to Me seems intriguing. A car accident leaves Austin with crutches and he can also hear voices of… dead people? Meanwhile, Laura, the niece of his next door neighbor, is grieving over her brother’s death. They seem like a perfect pair, and this story looks to be some kind of cathartic tale of healing and love. Well, I suppose I have only myself to blame for spinning a nice fantasy about this book before I even begin reading page one.
What this turns out to be is a… well, let me put this way, the author believes that her characters are being sassy and funny when what I get are two people who nitpick and find fault for the pettiest of reasons, looking down their noses even at people who are trying to help them or be nice to them when they are not whining incessantly about how this sucks and that sucks too and everything sucks.
Austin spends the first chapter complaining bitterly that he is out of coffee and it is raining too heavily for the crutch-bound one to go out to buy some. So he asks his neighbor, an older woman whose appearance he immediately mocks in his head. When she offers decaf because she doesn’t drink any other kind of coffee, he thinks in his head that he’d rather die first. No, really, that’s what he thinks. When the neighbor’s niece comes over, he wastes no time clumsily propositioning her. Sure, Laura describes him as hot, but his house is a mess, he seems like the kind of boor who doesn’t bathe often, and his behavior makes me wince. Am I supposed to be thrilled by this guy being a romantic hero?
Meanwhile, Laura is an emotional mess. When she’s not crying, she’s acting all hapless and useless, wishing that her dead brother is still around to tell her what to do. How old is this woman again? Sure, she’s grieving, but the author makes Laura too much of a passive waterspout. Oh, and one of her reasons to be attracted to Austin is because he reminds her of that dead guy. Apparently she used to rely on Steven in order to be “independent” – as doing so means that she doesn’t have to rely on anyone else (don’t ask) – and now she craves the same kind of “independence” from Austin. I look up the word “independence” in three different online dictionaries, and no, I still don’t think that word means what the author thinks it does.
Laura soon realizes that Austin can hear her dead brother because our hero tells her that Steven called her “Sasspants” when the man was alive. I… I guess at least it’s not “Sassy Panties”, and that’s good. Right?
These two use cringe-inducing words like “sucky” in their conversations, making me wonder whether they are all prepubescents, at least in the head because their hormones are certainly making them lust after one another like adolescents. The romance is basically a “I like you! No, I don’t! Yes I do! No, I really don’t!” cycle of futility, and Laura’s aunt as well as Sasspants’s loving dead brother have to play the matchmakers and add to the whole childish feel of the story.
Talk to Me should have been a heartrending tale of two people getting over tragedies in their lives, but the author for some reason goes the romantic comedy route instead. She does this in a most unfortunate way, hence the result is a story in which petty and childish antics are passed off as humor. The romance… well, the less said about it the better, as any resemblance to human emotion in that area is most likely coincidental. If I shed any tear while reading this story, it’s because the author didn’t end this story by page 50 and ended my misery far more quickly.