Tuesday, April 30, 2013

High Concept Romance: When the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon...

The second in Elizabeth Boyle's "Rhymes With Love" series, AND THE MISS RAN AWAY WITH THE RAKE came out about a month ago, but it's not too late to snatch up a copy of your own and join in with all the buzz. For those of you who shirk buzzed books--and I totally understand--let me assure you this novel is delightful.

Things that will amuse you as you read:

1.) The Hatfields and McCoys feud. It's more than Montague and Capulet--that was child's play. This is pure "fighting about a pig" type of feuding. And it's hilarious. And each side has their own old harridan who lets fly her opinion on the other family and how awful they are.

2.) The YOU'VE GOT MAIL high-concept premise. (Yes, I know that You've Got Mail was based off of In the Good Old Summertime musical and the The Shop Around the Corner movie--both wonderful and should be watched if you get a chance.) But that whole "in letter form, you're wonderful; in real life, I think you're horrid" premise is pretty funny.

3.) The Fake Rake. This was a bit of a twist. You know how in some books they'll play up a character as wholly rakish and he's not? This one is definitely not a rake, but exhibits rakishness whenever in the company of the heroine. I prefer that kind of fake rake, myself. As if the hero is so overcome by the heroine, he can't help but ravish her. Repeatedly.

4.) How long they carry the whole premise out. After a while, it becomes apparent both characters are in on the fact that they're letter writers who hate each other in real life--and it all becomes a stand off as they each try to goad the other one into admitting they don't want the "perfect letter writer" but the one they're with. Stubborn. As. Mules. And they deserve every bit of trouble they get out of the situation the more they carry it out.

5.) The Solution. Because the Hatfields and McCoys aren't normal families that would let a little ruination actually UNITE the families, there is a black moment where you wonder, "How are they going to end up together?" Because as stubborn and as foolish as they have been, you're still rooting for them to get together. Really. And it's an elegant solution.

So while I dearly enjoyed this book--there have been books that carry the joke too far. It's a delicate line. What books do you recall that were able to carry off the joke? Or didn't? Any other books that were like YOU'VE GOT MAIL that you enjoyed?

16 comments:

Maureen said...

I got nothing. Other than the classic Much Ado About Nothing. Sorta the sameidea...

Marnee Bailey said...

I loved You've Got Mail, but now that I'm thinking of books like it, I'm blanked.

A book where the identity thing was a major conflict that I did love was Teresa Medeiros's Yours Until Dawn. I really had no idea in that one. At the end, I know I should have. But I really didn't.

Terri Osburn said...

I don't think I've ever read a book like that movie. But I'm sure I've read a book where the joke went on too long, but I can't think of any specifics right now. Let me get through these emails and maybe my brain will return by lunch time.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Hellie has us all stumped. I love You've Got Mail so much I almost don't want there to be anything else like it! :)

Janga said...

I think Boyle does this sort of thing very well. She used letters and mistaken identity in another of my favorites among her books--Love Letters to a Duke.

I love You've Got Mail, but it is the bookshop that makes it so appealing to me. I love Notting Hill for the same reason. :)

I do like books with an epistolary element. My keepers in that category are a motley mix, ranging from Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster to literary fiction such as The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith, and and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and the Regency fantasy Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I wish there were more romance novels in the group. My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway, Scandal by Amanda Quick, My Secret Folly by Laura Kinsale, Love in the afternoon by Lisa Kleypas, and, most recently, With This Kiss by Eloisa James--that's all I can remember.

Terri Osburn said...

Hellie is going to be offline most of the day so I guess I'll play hostess.

Mo - Looks we're working with the same number of functioning brain cells today. LOL! In all those cozy mysteries there are not note-writing elements?

Sabrina - I do like the movie, but it still ticks me off that she lost her book store. I'm glad they found love, but it's not a real happy ending to me because the shop is gone.

Janga - See above. :) That is a long list of mostly books I've never even heard of. I bow to your knowledge.

P. Kirby said...

Yeah, well, I'm even more stumped than Maureen, because I've never actually seen You've Got Mail. Have I encountered a book (or movie) with this kind of premise? Probably. But it obviously wasn't memorable because I can't come up with an example to save my life.

Seems like a cute premise that would need another subplot to prop it up, else it get tired fast.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Oh Janga - Love In The Afternoon is so amazing....

Terri Osburn said...

Pat - Isn't it odd? I'm sure the pen pal motif has been used plenty of times, but I must be missing it too.

Maureen said...

I got nothing, still. The mysteries? Well, no, not really.

Honestly, the only thing even close to it is the Shakespeare one... Benedick and Beatrice, the war or words and the relationship they are tricked into that turns into reality. Just adore it...

Marnee Bailey said...

Janga I love You've Got Mail, but it is the bookshop that makes it so appealing to me. I love Notting Hill for the same reason. :)

Me too. :) I pretty much love anything with a bookstore in it. There's this animated movie, Rio, that my kids love and it starts in a bookstore. It had me right then, at the bookstore.

MsHellion said...

Mo, I love the Beatrice & Benedict bickering in MAAN! Hilarious! One of my favorite films with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Braggnan.

Marn: "A book where the identity thing was a major conflict that I did love was Teresa Medeiros's Yours Until Dawn. I really had no idea in that one. At the end, I know I should have. But I really didn't."--I DIDN'T EITHER! I WAS SO CLUELESS! *LOL*

MsHellion said...

I did stump you all today. *LOL* I didn't mean to. It wasn't a riddle. I think the concept is used more often than you think--but mostly it doesn't carry for HALF THE NOVEL. You'll have the awkward meet in the beginning, call each other a jerk--and then show up the next day to realize SHE is your next door neighbor. Good luck to you. Pride & Prejudice--the first impression, NOT GOOD.

MsHellion said...

Janga, I knew you wouldn't let me down! *LOL* And yes, the part I love most about YOU'VE GOT MAIL is the bookstore and the clash of the bookstore cultures each has. You instantly root for the SMALL bookstore...

MsHellion said...

Thank you, Terri--and YES, I have been offline most of the day. Company workshop about "embracing change" and "promoting healthy work culture" to a bunch of cynics. We came out in tact, so we believe we did well! Thank you for covering!

MsHellion said...

Pat "Seems like a cute premise that would need another subplot to prop it up, else it get tired fast."--EXACTLY SO! *LOL*

There is humor in the YOU'VE GOT MAIL where the guy figures it out and by then LIKES the girl so then he's doing his damnedest to change her opinion of him...to me, it's like a twist on Pride & Prejudice.