Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
To recap: when I put up a “non-review,” it means I couldn’t finish a book. I’m not going to review it on Epinions or Amazon, and this isn’t going to be a full-on review, but I don’t mind telling you folks here why I decided not to finish it in case that information is useful to you. Just keep in mind that my judgment isn’t based on the entire book.
Sarah McCann is a wedding planner who completely believes in happily-ever-after and the perfect wedding and marriage. Freeman Lafontaine is a swinging bachelor and friend of the groom who thinks marriage as a whole is a mistake, and is determined to save his best friend from making that mistake. The two of them are bound to butt heads as two sweethearts are due to get married in a sexy, hot, sandy locale (Belize). Add in a wedding party full of spicy pairings waiting to happen, and you have the perfect recipe for plenty of hot, steamy sex and guilt-free escapism.
Or at least, that’s what I thought when I picked up Susan Lyons’s Sex On The Beach.
The setup has promise. It could have been the prelude to a classic-style hilarious romp of misdirections, mis-assumptions, and happily-ever-afters. Or, it could have served as the backdrop to a sweet, poignant, and sexy tale of lessons learned and true loves found. Instead, it seems like Lyons tried for both and ended up with neither. True, I got frustrated enough with the book to stop reading at the end of the first of the three major pairings (after page 115), but that’s the basic framing story that sets the tone for the book.
Free and Sarah are engaged in a war to either end or preserve the wedding plans. At the same time, they’re having wild sex with each other every chance they get because… well, because of pheremones, I guess, or at least that’s what Sarah says over and over, turning what could have been a sexy pairing into something kinda anti-climactic. Again, playing this largely for laughs or for bittersweet poignancy could have worked, but it felt like the author tried too hard to give us both, and ended up giving us neither. Instead, I ended up feeling that both of the characters were annoying, pig-headed, oblivious people who probably did deserve each other, but not for the nice reasons the author would have us believe. Both of them are so convinced that their views are right and their goals are lofty that they’re willing to railroad over anyone who’s in their way. Free has no trouble using dirty tricks that could be amusing in the right light-hearted tale, but here are just painfully cruel. Sarah is supposed to be a smart business woman, but she’s so busy having the hots for Free that she can’t think straight and keeps doing and thinking stupid things. By the time the wedding was off and then on again, I not only didn’t care whether the wedding happened, I disliked both Sarah and Free as people—which made it awfully hard to be interested in whether they got together at the end or not.
When I picked up this book I was actually looking for just some light, sexy reading; I didn’t have huge expectations or anything. There’s plenty of sex, sure, but the story and the characters largely get in the way. The characters meant to be handled later in the book seemed more interesting, but I couldn’t get myself to keep reading long enough to find out whether their stories were worthwhile.