Sometimes while reading, I will imagine a soundtrack for the book. In the case of Janelle Taylor’s Valley of Fire, that soundtrack is limited to this chorus: “A little less conversation, a little more action, please.”
Look, I admire authors. Writing a book is not easy, and I doff my wig to them at every opportunity. But sometimes, let’s face it, a book just is not good. Sometimes, a book just flat out is awful.
As far as Valley of Fire is concerned, the problems lie in repetition, failure to create engaging characters, and an entirely predictable story line. But mostly, the problem is in how it’s written. Ms. Taylor’s descriptive phrases are laugh out loud awful, to the point that I found myself saying out loud, on more than one occasion, “Who the hell published this crap?” There are some paragraphs in which every sentence begins with the same word. Hello, sentence variety? Do we not know about it?
And the talking. The talking, the talking, the talking. Good grief. There are more conversations in this book than I hold in a year. And every last one of them springs from a well of the ridiculous. Brandy Alexander (for reals, people – that is her name) is a novelist specializing in, well, I can’t really say. Historical romance? Science fiction? It seems to change. But anyway. She’s writing a book and needs to research Las Vegas and its environs. While there, she nearly dies of heat exhaustion, but is rescued by the strappingly virile and handsome Steven Winngate, who also happens to be – of course – very, very rich. He comes to believe that she’s researching him for one of her books, so he decides to get back at her. OF COURSE they fall for each other. Like, duh.
Over lunch, during one of their interminable conversations, she confesses to all manner of inner thoughts and personal motivations. Why? Don’t ask me. I can’t tell you. All I know is that I lost 30 minutes of my life reading that mess that I will never get back. I also wasted too much time reading Ms. Taylor’s lengthy descriptions of Steven’s and Brandy’s bodies and what they were wearing. To whit:
Sturdy legs agilely straddled the motor in his jeans. [THE MOTOR IN HIS JEANS??? Oh, my God. Again, the editor. WHERE IS THE EDITOR?] He sat the girl before him, careful to keep her legs and ankles away from the hot engine and tailpipe. He placed her left leg across his right thigh and her right leg over his left thigh. He removed his yellow bandana which served to entrap his perspiration as well as dress up his western attire. He bound her hands together and slipped them over his head, allowing them to rest around his narrow and firm waist [well, of course it’s NARROW AND FIRM, because we wouldn’t want to be anything less than predictable] where not an ounce of excess flesh was permitted to exist [!!!!!!!!]. The span of his muscular chest and the measured reach of her bound arms brought their heated bodies into close contact.
It goes on. And on and on and on.
I can’t really explain the plot of this dreck, because, quite frankly, there isn’t much of one. You’ll get pages – and I mean PAGES – of Brandy explaining how difficult it is to write novels and love scenes and deal with editors. You’ll have to sift through pages of what it means to be a woman trying to work and have it all. And pages of Steven yapping about, well, not much, really.
Then there are the love scenes. Picture every hackneyed euphemism, amplify it by 1000%, and you have the sexy times in this book. Tongues lap around nipples, heat surges through bodies, kisses that shatter, hungry mouths, and passionate lovin’ that takes them to the edge of reality and completion.
Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, which is written badly and edited worse, Valley of Fire has nothing going for it. There is not a captivating story here, nor are there interesting characters.
Do yourself a favor and avoid Valley of Fire. I read it so you don’t have to.
Published by Severn House Publishing Ltd. and available on Amazon.com.
Thanks (I guess) to NetGalley for the preview.