Take Me For A Ride, by Karen Kendall

19 Oct
In the foreground, a white man in dark slacks and jacket, white shirt, shown from the mouth down, walks towards the camera. Behind him, a blurry car, presumably speeding away. The background is the skyline of a city with many skyscrapers, against a darkening stormy sky.

This month’s SuperWendy’s TBRChallenge theme is “flirting with danger”, which in my world almost always means romantic suspense. As this cover fairly screams “running from the bad guys”, and since this book has been sitting in my print TBR cordillera of doom since RWA in DC (in 2009, mind), it seemed like it was all going to work beautifully.

Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Take Me For A Ride, by Karen Kendall

Published in 2009, this is the third novel in the ARTemis, Inc trilogy, and my first novel by the author (who seems to no longer be writing, or at least not under this name).

The writing is competent, and the set up was vaguely interesting at first: a family heirloom lost during WWII (of course) suddenly resurfaces, and now Natalie’s grandmother refuses to return it. The ‘legal’ owner, a Nazi who stole it from the family in the course of committing murder, hires ARTemis to recover it (presumably because that poses less danger for him than calling the authorities, for whichever value of “authorities” may apply here).

Here’s the blurb:

Art restorer Natalie Rosen is a true romantic, inspired by the world’s treasures—and nothing incites her passion more than the legendary St. George necklace, a lost family heirloom believed to originate from Catherine the Great. But when against all odds, the necklace turns up in her office before it goes to auction, Natalie takes drastic measures to keep it in the family.
Hard-living recovery agent Eric McDougal is no gentleman, but then, he’s never advertised himself as one. He thrives on chasing women—and stolen art. Now he gets a dream assignment to do both. He thinks it’ll be a cinch, but he doesn’t count on his high-octane attraction to Natalie, or that she’ll unwittingly lead them both into a dangerous underworld where falling in love is as part of the game as staying alive.

The problem is that I never got lost in the story enough to not care about all the red flags and other irritants–of which there are many. To wit:

  • The hero sleeps with women the same way other people use paper napkins: because women, by and large, are disposable means to his ends.
  • But it’s not his fault, it’s in his genes, because his father was a cheater who made his mother miserable and then drank ‘out of guilt’.
  • That’s why now he doesn’t have ‘girlfriends’, he just gets women drunk, naked, fucked, and then moves on–but at least he “doesn’t break any promises”. (Bonus if they have something he wants that he can take from them in the process.)
  • But wait! after getting our heroine drunk (and finding out everything he needs for this assignment in less than two hours), he’s convinced that she’s “not like all the other women”. She’s “too innocent” (read: too ‘good’)
  • He still takes her to his hotel, where nothing happens because she passes out and he’s at least decent enough to prefer some level of consciousness when he fucks a woman over.

And as our “hero” is getting Natalie drunk in New York, per his standard operating procedure, we have two chapters from the point of view of two other characters, on the other side of the world, who have a whole-ass complicated backstory (some searching tells me they’re the protagonists of the first book in the trilogy), whose plot thread seems to start in the middle, with no clear connection to whatever is going on in *this* novel.

All of the above was enough to have my back up, but then, THEN! when Natalie wakes up in the morning, the first words out of her mouth are, “I guess I’ve racked up some big ‘ho points”.

And I’m entirely over it, at page 47 (of 326 in my print copy).

Take Me For A Ride is a DNF

* * * *

It certainly can be argued that I didn’t try enough with this book (aka, failed at the TBRChallenge). I know I’ve read and enjoyed plenty of books with even less likable leads–off the top of my head, the Tara Janzen Steele books with the crazy covers of the mid-aughts, had male leads who were more Neanderthal than this one, and I inhaled those back in the day.

But it’s not 2005 anymore; I’m a lot older, and have a lot less energy to slog through something that’s already making me angry at fewer than 50 full pages.

With any luck, the next thing I pick up will engage rather than enrage me.

13 Responses to “Take Me For A Ride, by Karen Kendall”

  1. Lori 19/10/2022 at 2:05 PM #

    I actually love this review because I relate and it just shows how much we’ve grown. And how great to just say that I wouldn’t invite this pig into my home so I’m not going to read his story and invite him into my brain either.

    btw: whorephobia is killing me

    • azteclady 19/10/2022 at 2:44 PM #

      It should not shock me so much that so many women miss the boiling toxic mass of misogyny that’s behind whorephobia, and yet, it still does.

      • azteclady 19/10/2022 at 2:45 PM #

        And thank you; DNFing felt somehow like a cop out, but I just didn’t have it in me to find something else and read it overnight; not this week.

  2. S. 20/10/2022 at 4:40 AM #

    I usually don’t consider a DNF a cop out. One tries and one finds problems, thus a low grade.

    All these books, probably trying to bring out the “cavemen” mentality some publishers might think women truly want in a relationship as proof the guy only has eyes for them (ah ah ah) actually make me think this: these supposed heroes are also meant to be clever, resourceful, determined, motivated, fearless, witty and able to accomplish amazing things others would take too long to plan anyway. These heroes are smart guys.
    But these allegedly intelligent guys can’t separate what is (conveniently often) their family history/background/trauma from their own individual personality. It seems a cop out.

    • azteclady 20/10/2022 at 6:17 PM #

      I usually give books more pages before I give up because there may be redeeming qualities popping up a bit later on, but this one…I just could not keep at it with this one, not this week.

  3. willaful 21/10/2022 at 1:46 AM #

    Not remotely cop-out! There’s enough ugliness we can’t keep out of our brains without deliberately adding more.

  4. SuperWendy 22/10/2022 at 7:18 PM #

    DNFs totally count. One year (many moons ago) I did a round- up of like 6 books I ended up DNF’ing for the Challenge. In one month. I finally stuck with a novella that ended up being a “C” grade 😂.

    Did it come from your TBR? Is it now out of your TBR? Yes and yes = Success!

    (Also, ewwww! I would have DNF’ed this with the same speed you did because…ewwww!)

    • azteclady 22/10/2022 at 7:28 PM #

      If I had started it earlier, I might have had the spoons to grab something else, hopefully with better results.

      Ah well. It’s off the TBR and will soon be in the UBS for someone who likes the author/that kind of romance to enjoy.

    • willaful 22/10/2022 at 7:51 PM #

      I definitely consider DNFs a success! I just don’t usually bother to write about them and then I have no post. 😦

      • azteclady 22/10/2022 at 7:53 PM #

        I think this is what bothers me most here; writing about a DNF when I didn’t make it past page 47 felt somehow wrong!

  5. victoriajanssen 31/10/2022 at 1:50 PM #

    I feel DNF posts are sometimes more valuable than squeeful posts.

    • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 2:08 PM #

      Thank you!

      And welcome to my humble online abode, Ms Janssen

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