Ella Frank - Exquisite

Exquisite (Exquisite Series) - Ella Frank

Jill dared me not only to read this book (and I use the term 'book' lightly here) but also to review it using animated gifs. After all, I suppose it is lucky I can use pictures in this review because I am really lost for words. This is how angry I was

So here are three things that were wrong with this book:
a)    Writing
b)    Characters
c)    Plot

a) Let’s start with the writing. The only thing the characters ever do in this book is either sucking in a breath, blowing out a breath, taking in a deep breath and taking each other’s breath away. The heroine is a doctor, so I expected her to be at least a little concerned by these obvious respiratory problems but she pretends it’s normal.

“Her eyes widened and she sucked in a breath.”
“Lena sucked in a breath at the command she heard in his voice.”
Etc. etc. ‘deep breath’ appears 82 times.

b) The characters are ridiculous. The heroine suffers from random bitchy psychotic episodes which the hero takes in his stride and just wags his finger at her. There is no rhyme or reason to what they do and how they behave, they constantly contradict the personalities they’re supposed to have.

I stopped keeping track of all the nonsense they do but let’s just start with the opening scene. We learn that the heroine is traumatised by the death of her sister and she’s been living in a semi-catatonic state ever since. She doesn’t speak about her problems at work, she is very reserved and secretive. THEN flowers get delivered to her (by the hero, who is helping out at the flower shop) and she won’t go downstairs to get them, she asks the guy to read the card to the receptionist while she is on the phone with her… The hero sensibly says the card is private and he won’t open it. The heroine throws a tantrum. Even AFTER she learns the flowers are from her parents and the card urges her to visit her dead sister’s grave. She is still angry he didn’t read that aloud in front of everyone?

And she is rude to the delivery man/hero for absolutely no reason.  The narrator then, in the best ‘telling not showing’ display of writing skills tells us it is because she’s built a wall around her heart and won’t let anybody in because when you love people, and they die or abandon you it hurts. That same old story.  How does that explain being rude to customer service people and delivery-men? Because what? They will just stop delivering her things and break her heart if you let them in by being civil?

For 80% of the book the heroine acts like a neurotic bimbo and I honestly don’t know how she could’ve ever become a doctor. She probably bought her medical diploma on the internet.

Now the hero, eternally patient, bland and boring. His idea of a sexy and witty flirting is asking the heroine what underwear she is wearing. He is also the owner and the chef of the HOTTEST new restaurant in Chicago, yet when he invites the heroine to dinner, what does he make? Pasta Alfredo! And he serves it with RED WINE.  There is no starter. I can’t believe any even semi-professional chef would serve a dinner to woo the love of his life without a starter… I could understand no amuse-bouche, but no appetizer? And red wine with pasta Alfredo? And the other time we see the hero cook, he makes LASAGNE. It’s obvious that the author has not got a clue about fine dining or the most basic food-wine pairing and I feel offended as a reader who actually paid for this book she didn’t care to do a simple 30 minute google research.

Towards the end of the book, the hero also starts acting like a lunatic, kicking the heroine out because she didn’t break the patient-doctor confidentiality. That was just so bizarre and random.
As a result both the hero and heroine seemed like total idiots and the whole reading experience was comparable to watching the 8th season of Big Brother.

The idiocy is endless. After about 6% of the book the hero has seen the heroine for about 4 minutes altogether, during which he saw her smile 2 or 3 times.

"The blonde turned and then bam! There it was again, that elusive smile of hers, so rarely given but man, when it came out to play it made Mason sit up and notice."

Huh, what? Elusive smile? You only saw her angry ONCE (by then of course) when she received flowers and if you had any brains in your head you would realise that women usually receive flowers from men when those men have done something wrong and need to apologise. That would explain why women are often somewhat angry when they receive flowers and why flowers often land in a bin. The fact that the heroine will later prove to have recurrent psychotic episodes is beside the point, at that time such an assumption was incongruent and illogical. How can the hero make any statements about the heroine's personality after having seen for altogether four minutes? How can he know if her smiles are elusive or not??

I honestly could go on for ages. But we all have books to read, reviews to write, life is too short, so let’s just quickly comment on the plot. It won't take long because the main problem with the plot was that there wasn’t any. For the 80% of the book the characters just meet up, talk on the phone, and engage in what I assume was supposed to be ‘witty banter’ but was really cringe worthy:

 ”A picnic?” Lena asked as she stood in her kitchen the next morning in Mason’s black work shirt. He, on the other hand, was sitting at her kitchen table in his boxers—only his boxers. “Yeah, you know, the activity where you take some food and a blanket, find a nice grassy spot in a park, sit down, and stuff your face.” She lifted her mug of coffee and took a sip. “I know what a picnic is, Langley.” “Well, you’re the one who asked as though it were a question.” “No. I was actually trying to ascertain whether you were serious or not.”

There are endless pages of nonsense like that. That there? Not witty. Not funny. Boring. Basically the whole book read like someone’s very long sexual-romantic fantasy and let me clear that to all you self-published writers out there: writing down your fantasies does not make a novel. You need a build-up, climax, resolution, etc. Creative writing 101.