Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage
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I love cheese. I don’t mean the dairy product—well, I love that, too. But I also love all things “cheesy,” like SyFy Original Movies, Lisa Frank graphics, and corny jokes and puns. For the purposes of this column, though, I’ll focus on cheesy romance novels. Cheesy doesn’t always mean bad, as long as the book is written well enough, and it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage by Kieran Kramer.

The story is set in England, during the Regency period, or the reign of King George IV. Jilly Jones is a young woman who lives in the Mayfair section of London and owns her own bookshop. While this seems like a great profession for women of our day, the residents of Mayfair feel that Jilly’s entrepreneurial acumen is highly improper. Jilly meets her new neighbor, Captain Stephen Arrow, and at first finds the captain imperious and something of a rake. As the book goes on, of course, her dislike turns to lust—and then, later, love. They bond through Jilly’s crusade to turn around the luck of the street they live on, appropriately named “Dreare Street” (pronounced “dreary”) because of the persistent fog that haunts the lane. But just as Stephen and Jilly get close, a secret from her past appears and threatens to tear everything apart.

I had many, many problems with this book. The first was the title; it simply made no sense, and it didn’t seem to fit the story at all. The title seems more appropriate for a romance novel involving a meteorologist!

Secondly, I didn’t find a single character that I liked or sympathized with. Jilly starts out with a lot of promise: spunky and opinionated, she could hold her own among the gossips and scolds living on Dreare Street. But she’s also something of a “Mary Sue,” or the perfect woman, and it grew tiresome seeing everybody and anybody fall under her spell. And Captain Arrow isn’t much better. At the beginning of the book, he’s a cad through and through, who plans on selling the Dreare Street house that he inherited as soon as possible. But, of course, the “healing love” of Jilly Jones convinces him to stay. (Barf.) Every other character is similarly one-note, with no depth at all. Sure, they all seem to grow as people by the end of the book, but since it’s all through Jilly and how wonderful she is, it just doesn’t ring true.

Thirdly—and perhaps most importantly—the sex scenes are awful. Very short and nondescript, they failed to ignite any sort of spark or romance at all—especially since Jilly spends the majority of each encounter bemoaning how “unladlylike” it was to be, for instance, making out on the floor of her bookshop. I used the term “lust” earlier, but that was actually something of a misnomer.

All in all, the entire novel just has an amateurish quality to it, as if Kramer didn’t bother doing any research on the time period. From the incongruous title to the poor dialogue, nothing about this book worked for me. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to any serious romance reader, though it might be a good choice for a beginner.

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