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ImageGenre: Future Dystopia (Is that all you read, Patsy? PRETTY MUCH)
Notes: Book 2/50
Review: This shit is crazy, yo. It is like the Handmaid’s Tale meets the 22nd century. This novel follows a Red. What is a Red, you ask? Let me explain. Future America has decided that prisons and housing inmates costs too much for their ballooning budget. (True. I think we spend more on prisons than schools). In an innovative and novel stroke of genius they decided to chrome (aka dye the skin of) criminals based on their class of crime and release them back into the general population to be basically shunned and harassed and beat up until their sentence has been served. Hannah is a Red. And Red is for murder.
The really freaky/futuristic part of the book isn’t really about the chroming (but chroming is definitely the most interesting) is the fact that Hannah is convicted of murder for having an abortion. Some of the more fundamental Christian state (like most of the South, Texas, and the Midwest/West) has enacted a series of Sanctity of Life laws, much like quite a few of the laws that have been kicked around in Mississippi and even Virginia. These laws decree that abortions are not only illegal, but they are murder. A fetus is a person and has all the rights and liberties of a person.
Hannah comes from a very religious, very Christian, very conservative background. Her parents have taught her that a woman is only meant to be a helpmeet to a man. Men are the unequivocal heads of households and women basically tend to the home and raise babies. So when Hannah starts and affair with her pastor, Aidan Dale, she really has no where to turn when the affair leads to her pregnancy. She would completely destroy Aidan Dale’s life if she told it was he who fathered her child and she would be held in contempt of the court until she revealed the father’s name. She elects to have an abortion and is subsequently caught and sentenced for murder.
While I enjoy the general premise of this book, it really isn’t that original. Other than the chroming, this story has been told before. Definitely taking one star off for lack of originality. However, the chroming is intensely original. Geneticists inject a virus into a criminals body thay dyes their skin a color. The color cannot wash off or be cut off or whatever else you would think to do to it. The only downside is that the virus doesn’t last forever. It only lasts a few months and requires regular injections throughout a person’s sentence. To ensure that chromes come back for their injections, they also implant a different virus that has a delayed release. When a person is overdue for a new injection, the virus causes hallucinations, a whole host of other things, and eventually death. No one can outlast the virus. People have tried. Everyone has failed.
I am also tired of reading books completely slamming religion. I feel that it is too easy. Yes, of course religion can cause a lot of problems and contradictions and oppress people. But I’m tired of reading about religion being like this evil force and only when people get out and experience the world can they truly see that their religious lives were lacking. Hannah struggles with her faith after being ostracized by her family and sees the double standards she was subjected to in her family. (i.e. it was a woman’s responsibility to remain modest and not inflame the passions of men) There are a few brief glimpses of tolerant religion, but the author didn’t explore that deeply enough. Religion and faith are complex and vary from person to person and I wish she had explored Hannah’s feelings further.
Bottom Line: This story has been told before, but it’s really interesting if you like these kind of books. The transformation of Hannah from a shy, sheltered church girl to a ragingly confident woman is particularly intriguing. It’s worth the read!

Smooth Talking Stranger Cover Image In a Nutshell

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
  • Notes: Arguably my favorite book in the Travis Series. Certainly the fastest moving one of the trilogy.
  • Recommended for: Fans of Kleypas, Anyone who’s read any of the first two, Fans of Contemporary Romance.

A book that shows sometimes the only obstacle between you and what you want is yourself . . .  This book is, as I said above, arguably my favorite in the Travis Series. As opposed to Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil, the beginning of this book gets right down to business.

SYNOPSIS

Billionaire playboy, and all-around ladies’ man, Jake Travis has a reputation as big as the state of Texas. He drives too fast, lives too hard, and loves too many women to count.

In her advice column, and her love life, Ella Varner is always practical. So when she’s left holding her reckless sister’s baby, she decides to ask Jake Travis to take a paternity test.

Ella is instantly struck by Jake’s bold good looks and easy charm—but she’s not falling for his sweet talk. This big sexy tomcat needs to take responsibility for his actions, and Ella’s making him stick to his word. Now if she can only ignore the unspoken attraction that smolders between them…

Okay, first of all, his name is Jack Travis and has been since the first book. I love the person who completely screwed that up. I could go on about romance novel’s synopsis writers and romance novel’s cover designs, but that should be a post in-0f-itself.

As for Smooth Talking Stranger, I honestly wasn’t overly intrigued by the premise. It seemed to overly similar to the premise of Sugar Daddy. Girl is left to take care of a relatives child. But I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption.

First of all, Ella is a completely different character from Liberty in Sugar Daddy. Liberty was eager and and motherly from the beginning of her having to take care of her half-sister, Carrington. On the other hand, Ella is someone who never even wanted to get married let alone raise children. Having a less-than-desirable role-model of a mother, Ella only takes care of her sister’s fatherless child in the beginning because she’s always been the one to “take care of her family’s messes.”

I found the growth of the character of Ella to be a fun and informative read. Having gone to a lot of therapy in college to deal with her childhood home life and eventually becoming a columnist, Ella is very self-aware and truly an independent heroine.

In the character of Jack Travis I was able to see a realistic, lovable hero. He has his flaws, but he has principles and a past. He’s the traditionalist in their relationship, which I found refreshing from many other novels out.

Kleypas does a great job of showing the bond grow between Luke, the baby, and Ella. It’s subtle and believable and also heart-wrenching. I also found the immediate acceptance of the baby by Jack Travis a wonderful, if not completely plausible, part of the book. If I hadn’t read the whole series I don’t think I would have so readily believed his role in Ella’s dilemma.

I would say if you’ve read Sugar Daddy and/or Blue-Eyed Devil and liked either/both of them you are missing out if you don’t read this one.

★★★★1/2