Title: Wanderlove by Belle Malory
Format: Kindle Edition, 2011
So this book has been on our “what are we reading” lists for quite a while – I read it before we began the blog and I believe that’s when Judith also started reading. In that time we’ve spoken about it a fair bit mostly because Judith just can’t seem to get into it but refuses to give up entirely. For my part I had no trouble finishing but have some serious reservations.
Plot: Lola is a Rom who decided, after her father called off her engagement to a guy she doesn’t love in order to sell her to a high-priced madam, to leave her tribe (becoming an Abandoner) and live with her grandmother in Florida. While fleeing to Florida she gets in an accident and is rescued by a hottie who finds her injured in the woods. The hottie is Gabe, her grandmother’s neighbor and, we later learn, Lola’s soulmate. Gabe, who is also an abandoner, remembers the past lives he and Lola spent together and while he wishes she could also remember he knows it’s dangerous because evidently about 100 years ago past-Lola learned a secret that if current-Lola remembers could cause other tribes to kill her. The book is about 1/3 Lola and Gabe, 1/3 the tale of the first time their souls fell in love, and 1/3 about the various plots other tribes use to get the secret information from Lola (including kidnapping, torture, coercion, and basically bribery).
Review: I go back and forth on how I feel about this book. On one hand it’s an interesting idea and while I got a little bored with in-the-past tale, in general I found the book to be pretty enjoyable. However there were two insurmountable hurdles that are keeping me from giving this a better score:
1) I would never profess to be an expert on all thinks Romani (despite the many romance novels I’ve read and the many hours spent watching “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”) but I do know that “gypsy” is supposed to be a pejorative term for the Rom and it took me out of the story every time Lola would refer to herself or others by that term. When Judith and I first started the book I think we had a 10 minute conversation on how this just didn’t seem right at all and how much it bugged us.
2) I understand that in the past it was no big deal for a 17 year old girl to date a 20-something guy but hello! This is 2012 and that’s called illegal and creepy. The fact that no one seems to point out to Lola OR Gabe “hey, maybe you shouldn’t date each other because she’s illegal and as a cop Gabe should know that” just bothered me. Okay, she’s turning 18 in a few months but does that really make it better? Not for me. This especially bothered me because there was NO reason why Lola had to be in high school. Just make her 20, put her in college, and this entire point would have been null and void.
In the end I’m going to give this a 7/10. It wasn’t a bad book by any means but Lola bugged me a bit and those two issues were just too much to get over. Also it’s (shocker) part of a series or trilogy and we all know how I feel about that.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 7. I thought Lola started out like a strong character because it obviously takes a lot of guts to run away from your family in order to live with a grandmother you haven’t seen in 10 years and abandon your entire way of life. Also she was big on volunteering and helping others in order to make up for past misdeeds but in the end she was just too wishy-washy for me. Setting aside the age thing, the way she treated Gabe was pretty terrible. She loves him instantly but doesn’t know why, she doesn’t think she’s good enough for him so tells him to be with someone else, then gets mad when he’s speaking to another woman. Oh and she spent her entire life wishing she could remember her past lives but when she does her attitude is beyond juvenile. In the end I think she makes a lot of stupid moves but since it’s typically due to concern for helping and protecting others I’ve got to give her points.
How much did I like the love interest: 9. There isn’t a whole lot of Gabe-time but he seems like he could be awesome. He’s hot, is a cop (uniform! squee!), will literally kill people to protect Lola and truly loves her. He’s also understanding of the fact that she can’t remember their past lives, doesn’t push her to be with him, and deals with her extreme mood swings much better than I would have. But seriously dude – you’re 25(ish) and she’s 17? Not okay.
How believable is the plot: 5. There were two points that brought this down for me: the fact that no one freaks about the age difference and the whole powers/past lives stuff. While I really have no opinion on whether people have past lives (except for thinking I’d like to visit the Past Lives Pavilion in “Defending Your Life”) the fact that people would remember everything about said past lives seems far-fetched. Add to this the fact that people have “powers” – prophetic dreams, knowing others thoughts through touch, seeing anyone’s location in a 3 mile radius, seeing the future – and I just can’t give it higher than a 5.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. There were a few issues but all in all no huge problems.
How much did I want to keep reading: 9. In fact I’ll probably even buy the sequel so I can see what this whole crystal-business is actually about.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 2. Not bad!
Final Score: 7/10. I still doubt anything will get Judith to finish but at least it’s not DNF!!!