Tracey Garvis Graves
Cherish (Covet, sequel novella)
Tracey Garvis Graves (US: 28th October 2014)
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CONTENT WARNING: Grief after infant death.
Non-ranting part of the review first. Cherish has a HEA, so romance fans can read the novella without fear. And though I haven’t yet read Covet, I wasn’t lost at all here, and was really enjoying in the story.
WAS, past tense. Certain scenes probably won’t bother other readers but rather annoyed me.
Jessie goes out for a night at a restaurant with her sister and best friend. Daniel tries to police what she wears, says men will stare at her chest, and convinces her to bring a cardigan. Supposedly because it’s “chilly” – or just trying to get her to cover her chest. Way to perpetuate rape culture, Daniel.
Anyway, the three women drink four bottles of wine between them, and travel via taxi safely home. All good. Then Jessie comes home to Daniel – and she can’t stand without wobbling, and can’t undress herself, so Daniel has to do it for her. That’s not my issue. But Daniel finds Jessie’s behaviour while thoroughly intoxicated “cute” and “endearing”.
The author likely didn’t mean to romanticise binge-drinking; she just needed a scene wherein Daniel realises he wants to shag Jessie again. (He doesn’t do it until later, when she’s sober and can non-dubiously consent.) I get that. But having grown up with an alcoholic…”cute” and “endearing” definitely do not come to mind to describe their behaviour. Alcoholism is a disease, and it’s not funny.
People will defend the scene by claiming that Jessie isn’t an alcoholic, so lighten the hell up, Tez; don’t take your issues out on the book. (I’m not – I rate Cherish three stars, which means “it’s OK”.) But from then on, I couldn’t appreciate the novella as much.
It doesn’t help that the epilogue is… Look, epilogues are unnecessary. They’re usually cheesier than the rest of the book, and while that’s fine for other readers I can’t enjoy it. Daniel and Jessie have remarried; they have a child who’s alive, and Daniel’s completely recovered from his traumatic brain injury with no permanent damage. He does have PTSD, though, so he quits being a traffic cop. Luckily for him, he gets to become a crime scene investigator instead. Even with his criminology degree, it seems strange to jump from traffic cop to CSI in one move. It’s like a super-promotion, because dealing with the public is probably the worst job in the police biz.
And yes, people with traumatic brain injuries deserve to fully recover, and get remarried, and have another kid, and get a super-promotion. I just wonder how the story would’ve differed if Daniel did have permanent brain damage, and if they didn’t have another baby.
But I’m probably in the minority when it comes to my views on this novella, so thanks for letting me rant.