"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Aug 2, 2009

Read Something! -- _The Husband Habit_ (Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez)

The Husband Habit

370 pp. (ARC) / 384 pp.
Romance / Chick Lit


Vanessa, a successful chef, has a problem: She keeps inadvertently becoming romantically entangled with married men. Trying to break the pattern, she swears off dating -- only to meet charming, sexy Paul, a war veteran haunted by what he's done overseas. Vanessa's mind (and sister) says no; her heart and body (and dog) say yes. But what if Paul isn't all that he seems to be? Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez tells an enchanting story of romance, the bonds of family and friends, and a woman finally coming into her own.

Appeal characteristics (pacing, story line, characterization, frame)
  • Pacing: Very fast, and increases tenfold in about the last quarter of the book -- this reads quite quickly
  • Pacing: Quick wrap up of the plot
  • Story line: Straightforward resolution of most conflicts (the minor ones often just disappear entirely with no official resolution other than the implication that they've been solved)
  • Story line: A couple of subplots, but they are not fully developed and usually just feed into the main romance plot at some point
  • Story line: Nothing overtly left dangling at the end (though there are some themes, conflicts, etc. that are never resolved because they just drop out of the book by about the three-quarters point)
  • Story line: Happy ending
  • Characterization: Intelligent, independent-minded female protagonist
  • Characterization: Female protagonist appears strong but never actually acts on her own; she just reacts to or acts because of other characters
  • Characterization: Male romantic interest with a troubled and somewhat mysterious past
  • Characterization: Male romantic interest who comes in and mostly fixes the majority of female protagonist's problems
  • Characterization: Characters are very human; they have real, believable problems and issues, and nobody's perfect
  • Characterization: Fairly small cast of characters, and characters appear only when they need to do something to move the plot forward
  • Frame?: Quite erotic in certain scenes (but no actual sex is depicted)
  • Frame: Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico; lots of local detail and strong evocation of a sense of place
  • Frame: Lots of detail related to food and cooking
  • Frame?: Metaphor is important, both to Vanessa and as an element of the style of the prose
  • Frame?: Prose is carefully chosen, somewhat literary -- it is acoustically attractive and precise in imagery and meaning
  • Frame: Subtle, sly sense of humor underlying much of the book
  • Frame: Mentions of Victorian English literature throughout
Similar titles/authors
  • Possibly Jane Austen? (I haven't read enough of her to really judge, but from what I have read and heard, the plot structure sounds somewhat similar, and the language/style may be similarly polished; also, the mentions of Victorian English literature throughout this novel suggest that Valdes-Rodriguez may have had something like Austen in mind while writing.)

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