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review 2020-05-02 03:19
A Collection of Short Pieces Celebrating Nero Wolfe
The Misadventures of Nero Wolfe: Parodies and Pastiches Featuring the Great Detective of West 35th Street - Josh Pachter

Wow—2 chances to talk about Nero Wolfe in less than a month? Say what you will about 2020, there are some really nice things going on, too.


In the same vein as the 2018 compilation that he co-edited, <b>The Misadventures of Ellery Queen</b>, Pachter (with the blessing of Stout's daughter), Pachter presents just what the title promises: a collection of short pieces featuring takes on Nero Wolfe (and, generally, Archie Goodwin).


There are three introductory essays—one by Otto Penzler; one by Stout's daughter, Rebecca Stout Bradbury; and then one from Pachter (which served as a typical introduction). All three of these pieces were a pleasure to read, but obviously, Bradbury's is the standout for sentimental reasons.


Then we move into pastiches, although some felt more like parodies to me—but why quibble? The first entry just didn't work for me, and almost put me off the project as a whole. But, it's Wolfe, so as much as I say "almost"—there's no chance that'd stick. Thankfully, the second entry more than made up for it, as did the rest. A personal highlight came from Pachter reprinting the first chapter of <b>Murder in E Minor</b>, Robert Goldsborough's first Wolfe novel—I appreciated the reminder that I did really like his work at one point. (I wish something from William L. DeAndrea's Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker books had made it in here)


The next section featured a handful of parodies. By and large, I enjoyed this part, but I would've appreciated a bit more subtlety with many of the works. The story "Julius Katz and the Case of Exploding Wine" was simply fantastic—I will be tracking down more of these stories by Dave Zeltserman as soon as I can (I have a browser tab open at the moment for an e-store with the collections).


The final section, "Potpourri," was my favorite. It included things like a story about a circus' Fat Woman doing a fine Nero Wolfe impression (and was a pretty clever story even without that); Pachter's short story about a young man named for Wolfe, "Sam Buried Caesar," which was utterly charming; and a scene from Joseph Goodrich's stage adaptation of <b>Might as Well Be Dead</b>. The highlight of this section (and possibly the entire book) was a little story called "The Damned Doorbell Rang," about a couple who used to live next to Wolfe's Brownstone on West 35th (obviously on the opposite side from Doc Vollmer), who didn't realize who they lived next to, nor appreciate the goings-on in the brownstone. An inspired idea that was executed wonderfully.


As with almost every compilation ever assembled, there were a lot of high highs and very low lows in this one—and most readers will likely disagree with what I'd put in either category. But I can't imagine any Wolfe reader not finding more than enough in this book to consider any time spent with it a win. The writers all clearly had fun with the subject matter, and it's infectious. Pachter has speculated about doing another collection of Wolfean tidbits. If he does, I know I'll be more than ready to grab it.


For a lot more about the book—the background, more information about some of the entries/authors/whatnot—check out <a href="https://likethewolfe.com/2020/04/11/the-misadventures-of-nero-wolfe-josh-pachter-episode-10/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Episode 10 of <b>Like the Wolfe</b> podcast</a>. It's a fun episode.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/05/01/the-misadventures-of-nero-wolfe-parodies-and-pastiches-featuring-the-great-detective-of-west-35th-street-by-josh-pachter-ed-a-collection-of-short-pieces-celebrating-nero-wolfe
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review 2020-02-08 20:09
Misadventures of a Backup Bride by Shayla Black
Misadventures of a Backup Bride - Shayla Black

Carson loves Sweet Darlin', the candy company he inherited from his biological father. He and his father were never all that close, but Carson still wants Sweet Darlin' to succeed. In order for that to happen, he needs a loan ASAP. Gregory Shaw is willing to give him one...if Carson marries Kendra, Shaw's flighty sorority girl daughter. Meanwhile, if Kendra doesn't marry Carson, she won't get her trust fund.

Carson knows that he and Kendra would make an unhappy couple, so, two weeks before the wedding, he lies and tells Shaw that he can't marry her because he's in love with someone else. Shaw decides to call Carson's bluff - he says he'll still give Carson the loan, if he still gets married in two weeks to this other woman he supposedly loves. Carson calls up Ella, an actress he'd met at a party six months ago - at the time, she was dating a friend of his, but she's single now. He asks her to be his pretend fiancee and leave him at the altar. She agrees because her acting jobs have been few and far between and she needs the money. Unfortunately, the two of them have instant chemistry, and their fake relationship turns real, fast.

At Book Bonanza 2019, attendees got a bag with two free books in it. One of them was a random book from the "Misadventures" series, which seems to be a sort of sampler series of unrelated short works by different authors. I think my mom might have gotten M.F. Wild and Mia Michelle's Misadventures of a Valedictorian.

At any rate, after a bad day at work, I needed something fluffy, and this seemed like it might fit the bill. I read the description on the back and the "pretend relationship" aspect was appealing. I didn't bother to look up the author or reviews on Goodreads. If I had, I might have saved this book for another time, because I wasn't expecting erotic romance in which the couple couldn't keep their hands off each other during dinner, the second time they'd ever seen each other, and were having sex within hours of laying out the "occasional public kissing, no sex" ground rules of their pretend relationship.

Readers were supposed to believe that Ella was an actress who was serious about her work and acting future, and that Carson was a dedicated new CEO who'd basically become a workaholic. When it came to what they actually did on-page, though, what I got was that they were both completely driven by their hormones. A  large chunk of the beginning of this book was the two of them having sex. The first person POV made most of the sex scenes more stilted and weird than sexy, and the food sex scene, in which Carson ruined a perfectly good bread pudding by dumping it onto Ella's breasts, was downright gross. Other people's mileage may vary, but that was a "no" for me.

After a couple days of screwing each other's brains out, Carson and Ella finally remembered that they'd actually gotten together for a reason that wasn't purely sex. I had to laugh when they learned that Kendra had fallen for an ROTC guy and were doubtful that she could know that she was really in love with someone after only knowing them for two days. Ella had enough self-awareness to realize that this applied to her and Carson as well, but supposedly "we're different" (102). Sure, uh huh.

The more I thought about the plot, the less it made sense. If Shaw had really wanted to call Carson's bluff, he could have told him "Fine, if you aren't marrying my daughter, then no loan for you." Carson either had to get that loan or watch Sweet Darlin' crumble - he had more to lose than Shaw did. Carson and Shaw would sometimes act like they needed each other, and sometimes like they didn't. And there were a couple developments that just came out of nowhere. On the one hand, Shaw was supposed to be this coldly manipulative businessman who was willing to use his own daughter in his machinations. On the other hand, he was also supposed to be a caring father who just wanted what was best for his daughter. And as for Kendra...

Honestly, Ella's acting skills were nonexistent compared to Kendra's.

(spoiler show)

Everything came together too easily in the end, and I found it difficult to believe that Ella and Carson would last long. They'd spent most of their time together having sex, and staying together meant that Ella had to give up her acting career while Carson got everything he wanted (I'm sorry, but the attempt to make it look like he was sacrificing too was weak at best). Also, it bugged me that one of the first things Carson did when Ella arrived was try to dictate what Ella ate. On the advice of her agent, she'd been trying to lose weight, and while I agreed with Carson that she was probably fine as she was, they'd literally just met and  at that point he hadn't even known for sure that's why she was ordering a salad. Trying to bully her into ordering a steak just made him look like a jerk.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2020-02-08 17:15
Reading progress update: I've read 193 out of 193 pages.
Misadventures of a Backup Bride - Shayla Black

Well, that was stupid.


Also, despite what the "genres" part of the Goodreads page for this book says, it's probably more accurate to call this erotic romance rather than erotica. Still not my cup of tea, though.

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text 2020-02-07 12:47
Reading progress update: I've read 102 out of 193 pages.
Misadventures of a Backup Bride - Shayla Black

"'I think Kendra wants someone to confide in. She can't tell her father that she thinks this one might be serious.'


'How can she believe that? She's only known him for a couple of days.' Instantly, I realize what I've said. I press my lips to his ear. 'I know it's technically true of us, too. But...I think we're different.'"


LOL, how? The've spent that entire time having so much sex that Carson can barely manage to drag himself to the job he used to be devoted to to a workaholic degree. And then there was that scene in the restaurant. How's that any different from Kendra publicly making out with this ROTC guy?

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text 2020-02-06 12:37
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 193 pages.
Misadventures of a Backup Bride - Shayla Black

Aw, man. The bread pudding sounded pretty good, up until Carson dumped it on Ella's chest so that they could have a round of food sex. Again, I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be sexy, but eww.

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