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Review: The Sweet Spot – Stephanie Evanovich

on July 3, 2014

Sweet SpotThe Sweet Spot
Stephanie Evanovich
Harper Collins AUS
2014, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

When Amanda takes a booking for a VIP in her restaurant, she’s nonplussed. Her parents are well known and she’s had famous people in before. But Chase Walker is in a different category all together. He plays baseball in the major league and he’s one of America’s gold pin-up boys. From the moment their eyes meet, there’s a definite spark.

For Chase, it’s love at first sight. There’s something about Amanda that he finds irresistable but to his surprise, she turns him down flat. And so Chase turns up in her restaurant night after night, sitting at the bar and ordering food and attempting to get Amanda to give him a chance. But Amanda operates on a theory that everyone has a flaw – and Chase is so perfect on the surface with his Greek-God looks and his money and charm that whatever his flaw is, it must be a huge one.

Nevertheless Chase does win Amanda down. But it turns out that in some ways, Amanda is right – Chase does have a secret, something that he’s been keeping from her. Something that he wants to share with her but fears her reaction. But when Amanda pushes him too far one day, his secret comes spilling out. It becomes Amanda’s secret too, once she gets used to the idea. But when a tabloid gets hold of the secret, it goes viral. And Amanda, never comfortable being in the public eye, can’t handle it and flees, knowing that it could be the nail in the coffin of her otherwise perfect relationship with Chase.

Every now and then you read a book that makes you stabby with rage. For me, this was one of those books. The first section of it was pretty inoffensive but boring. There’s a lot of telling but very little showing in the narrative. There’s a lot of this happened and then this and then Chase did/said this and Amanda did this and then they did this and then it was the next day and so on and so forth. All we get is how hot Chase is and how charming he is and how wonderful he is and how incredible he is but….there’s never any actual evidence of this. In fact the only evidence there is of Chase is him being a ginormous douche.

Beware… there be ***SPOILERS*** ahead.

Then came the stabby part. Chase’s big secret is that he likes to spank women and discipline them. He doesn’t ever tell Amanda this but one day, when he’s all pent up from keeping his spanking hand to himself, she fires him up and he basically just launches himself at her and spanks her without her permission. And then the next morning, because by this stage Amanda is so enamoured by Chase and confused about what happened, his smug and supercilious attitude just honestly, made me insane with fury. He can’t see that he’s done anything wrong and even worse, he makes Amanda feel that her confusion is unnecessary and that it’s all fun and games because she enjoyed the sex that occurred afterwards. Never once does he properly apologise for not only not sharing that piece of information about himself but also for forcing it on her against her will.

And this is the problem with novels that want to include “BDSM” – and I use that term extremely loosely because this novel does not in any way include BDSM. It includes a douche who likes to spank women’s bottoms. That isn’t the same thing. But the growing alarming trend in these books is that it isn’t a kink that’s explored by two people who both express an interest and desire to experiment. It’s almost always the guy that has the kink and he forces the woman into it. And this lazy, weak writing avoids addressing what a dickbag move this is by making the girl “want it all along, just never having realised”. And it’s the same with Amanda. Soon she realises that she’s deliberately pushing Chase to punish her for being a naughty girl because she secretly likes it when he spanks her. Despite the fact that she’d never once considered it before and her first introduction to it was in a way that no one should never experience. Being spanked because she swore – according to Chase, ladies should speak and act like ladies.

Fuck you, Chase. And if anyone tried to spank me without my permission, I’d kick them so hard they’d choke on their own balls. See how they liked violence without introduction.

I didn’t realise this book was going to include this when I began reading it. I’m bored of this trend, it’s rarely ever addressed with real thoughtfulness and care. It’s always “innocent” girls who end up doing this stuff to keep their man and then suddenly finding that it’s been inside them all along. I just don’t buy it and never will. Spanking someone without their permission or them even knowing that you are going to do it is so icky an idea that it just ruined Chase as a character for me beyond all redemption. Not that I was overly invested in him in the first place but afterwards his smug, disgusting attitude just made me desperately want Amanda to walk out. She is very uncomfortable the morning after and she wants to talk about it and what it means and he rides roughshod over her about how much she loved it and how utterly perfect it is now that he no longer has to keep this secret and has a way to expel all of the stress that he had been holding in. But she stays with him, barely even speaking her reservations and just brushes it all under the carpet.

Amanda was brought up by very successful parents – her father is a retired judge who is considering a run for the senate and her mother is a well known lawyer. She shouldn’t be intimidated by someone like Chase and yet it seems that she so clearly is. Several times in the book she has trouble expressing herself to him, making him listen to her. When he spanks her in a tunnel at a stadium and it’s caught on a CCTV and goes viral, she leaves without telling him because she ‘knows that’s not a decision he would make for her’. She needs peace and quiet to cope with what has happened to her, all of the commentary and judgement and viciousness in the media. She’s not from Chase’s lifestyle and the fact that she knew she couldn’t tell him that she needed time, seemed so desperately sad. Like these two people can’t share things with each other, how are they supposed to be in a serious relationship? Chase makes it clear he loves her and wants to marry her from so early on I can’t take it seriously because it just smacks of instalove. Their interactions are so glossed over and superficial. Amanda never really seems to want to disagree with Chase and it makes her seem so weak and pathetic. For their first date he takes her to her own restaurant and she finds that all her staff obviously know about it and she’s totally weirded out by it but he just keeps pushing and trying oh-so-hard and it comes off as awkward and creepy rather than romantic. Like before Amanda even agrees to go out with him, he just turns up at the bar every single night and sits there and everyone swoons over it. If he wasn’t a hot, famous baseball player, they’d have called the police. He’s sulky and used to people telling him how great he is and when he feels threatened, he becomes childish and surly. My husband follows baseball, I know what star batters are paid. Grow up Chase, you have more than most people will ever have. When he expects Amanda to drop her career and go on the road with him, once again, I wanted her to tell him to take a hike. She holds out for the shortest amount of time before she basically employs a manager at the restaurant and devotes her life to Chase. It becomes her ‘job’. She poured everything into the restaurant and it felt like the decision to employ a manager and leave it all behind was made in a snap and wasn’t particularly addressed in the book very well.

There’s pretty much nothing to redeem this novel. I liked Amanda in the beginning but once she agreed to go out with Chase she lost all of her personality and set about molding herself into the person she thought he wanted. The writing is lackluster and does far too much telling and no showing, the story sends more than one terrible message under the guise of “love” and Chase is an abomination, basically. Reading this book is 3 hours of my life down the drain.

2/10

Book #132 of 2014

 

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One response to “Review: The Sweet Spot – Stephanie Evanovich

  1. KINDLE BOOKS says:

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