Neanderthal seeks human, A smart romance de Penny Reid.
Smart romance? Neandertal (oui, j’ai découvert qu’en français il n’y avait pas de H, on en apprend tous les jours…)? Voilà qui devait suffire à m’intriguer! Parce que ça veut dire quoi une romance intelligente ? Que toutes les autres n’en sont pas ? Voilà qui méritait d’être examiné de plus près non ? Quand à ce Neandertal, c’est vrai que le héros de romance est souvent un archétype de l’homme des cavernes quand il rencontre sa dulcinée – ce fameux alpha dont certaines sont si friandes… Mais quand même, le terme est un peu rude non ?
Neanderthal seeks human, A smart romance de Penny Reid.
Smart romance? Neanderthal? This was enough to catch my attention. Because, really, what does a smart romance mean? That every other romance isn’t smart? It deserved closer examination. As for this Neanderthal thing, I will admit that most romance heroes tend to act like cavemen as soon as they meet the one, but didn’t it seem a bit harsh?
Don’t worry people; Neanderthal here applies to the heroine and not the hero, as will be explained in a completely incongruous and incredibly funny conversation, by said heroine to the hero.
Let’s put things back in their place. Neanderthal seeks human is the first book in a new series, published only in eBook. Yes, you can say it; I did it on purpose to make your life more complicated! But have no fear, for there is a wonder called smartphone application, computer and plenty of other devices made to help you here. And don’t blame me if I want to share good books with you, nothing good ever came without a price!
That being said, our heroine Janie is a bit weird. She does know everything you ever wished to know (thanks to her photographic memory), about whales reproduction cycle in the Antarctic, social standards at work (knowing and applying being very different here), methods to cultivate flowers in Polynesian islands, and of course, seduction methods amongst Neanderthal civilization!
But Janie also has a very hard time with regular conversation, she will feel the need to provide one or two or fifty such information at any time, thanks to a serious case of bad stress. Well, stress… To an outsider eye, she will just seem strange, a bit cold, but since the story is told from her point of view, we are aware of that particularity. The wonders of Janie’s brain are also incredibly efficient in helping her deal with any uncomfortable feeling: she just visualizes herself wrapping them neatly in a little box, putting the box away in a corner, closing the door and voila, by a little twist of a key, it went away…
As it happens, when our story starts, Janie began the day by finding out that her long time fiancé cheated on her, making her homeless (how strange that she doesn’t want to keep on living with him, really…) and jobless (consequence of job being acquired through said fiancé’s father) (and really, who cares that it’s been years and that she can actually DO the job?).
A day like any other day, a good day you might even say…
But no, it wasn’t enough, to top it off, it’s our hero (Janie only knows him from afar but he answers to the wonderful nickname of Sir Handsome McHotpants – that is to say, he must be very high on our famous scale from zero to Hugh Jackman) who’s given the mission of escorting our heroine out of the building. And there is the element of surprise: Sir McHotpants (aka Quinn Sullivan), is not who he seems to be. And he will make our heroine a proposal that she really can’t refuse…
I will not say another word on the subject, and you just will have to read the book (I know, I’m awful to you, I deeply apologize).
You have to read the book because the author has a unique voice, unlike what you can find in most romances these days, it’s refreshing and her heroine is most unusual. Usual romance heroine? Cute. Quirky maybe, sometimes, but her defaults have to be cute. Cliché is our friend, and I love it, but it can be tiring sometimes. Janie is not cliché, she is weird. Cold even. Uncomfortable with regular social interaction. Never awkward, more aloof. As a reader, we will not see her this way, but we will realize it slowly, through the book.
Strange she is and strange she will remain. No “You are my handsome hero and by the magic of your pretty eyes I will suddenly change my whole personality and share every single one of my thoughts and feelings with you”. Everyone is kept at a distance, and Quinn will be no different. If anything, I like the consistency of it! Well, there is the cliché of “Ye beautiful goddess with a flaming hair, every man looks back at you but you never saw it and compare yourself to a Neanderthal”. But the book couldn’t be perfect.
I won’t lie; there are clichés in this book. But the author manages to always use them to her advantage. By reversing the roles and comparing the pretty girl to a Neanderthal for example. With a hero absolutely outraged by the notion, believing that he is referred to as said Neanderthal. Because, obviously, he is a 10 and she is a 6 at best. And because he obviously understands exactly the contrary and his reaction made me laugh out loud!
There are a few things I didn’t quite like. The storyline with Janie’s sister was a bit rushed, the final “saving the damsel in distress” scene was completely over the top and I didn’t really understand how everything came to be, and I was bothered by the way Janie reacts (or doesn’t react more) to what happens in the nightclub. So details were skipped over to fast and I would have liked to understand more of them.
And yet, having said that, the story is great, the style is light and funny, the point of view is different, and the humor is sarcastic enough to make me laugh instead of roll my eyes when facing one of those clichés! As for what makes it a smart romance… I really don’t know. Maybe because Janie is so smart herself?
Does it really matter? I believe that every romance is a smart one anyway, otherwise, why would we be reading them!
I know the season is not upon us yet, but this is a wonderful summer beach read. Or a Sunday garden read, for now!