Friday, July 16, 2010

In Which Snickers Tackles Nora Roberts and Southern Charm.

The Book:Carnal Innocence
How I Got It: The library’s a wonderful thing.

Why I Read It: I got an email from Borders, promoting a new cover for Carnal Innocence, so I figured I’d check out the old cover before I decided whether or not to waste my money on a new cover… it’s the stuff in the middle (ya know, the typed pages with words on them) that counts anyhow!

The Review:
Warning! Spoilers Included.

It is clear that Carnal Innocence is more of a murder mystery than it is a romance novel, and don’t make the mistake of believing it’s a blend of the two – the romance is thrown in haphazardly. It seems like an afterthought, as if Roberts had forgotten that she’d promised her publisher she’d live up to the novel’s name. More to the point, there’s not much “carnal” about the relationship between Tucker and Caroline. It’s hurried and rushed, contradicting Tucker’s continual sermons on how everything in the South moves slowly.

Southern small town charm rings throughout the whole of Carnal Innocence, filling the romance quota more so than the actual romance between Caroline and Tucker. Innocence romances the reader, and one would find it hard to be immune to its charms. While Roberts failed to interest me in the romance between the characters, she certainly succeeded to hold me in captivation at the appeal of Innocence, Mississippi: a delightfully unexpected, but pleasant surprise. It was indeed a romance of sorts: a sweet, simple love of the town and the people in it, each one filling roles unasked for but quietly needed; I got the sense that Innocence would not be the same without each unique character. The citizens know it, too: despite some serious conflicts between characters, everyone cared about each other in the way that only a small town in the South can. I adored this strong sense of community; and to a certain extent, I identify with the small-town social hierarchy, coming from a relatively prominent family in a small town myself. Like Caroline, I will always have a place there if I so desire to be a part of it. I did covet the ease with which Caroline acclimated to Innocence’s way of life and to the various personalities and families within. Blood ties run stronger than moonshine in the South, and Caroline’s ancestry spoke for her, guaranteeing her a place in Innocence’s small society, no matter what.

The ending ticked me off, plain and simple. It felt forced, as if Roberts decided at the last minute to change the identity of the murderer as a “surprise ending”. While Josie’s motivation makes sense, it just doesn’t come across as the “Oh my god, that was totally unexpected, but HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THAT? IT’S SO OBVIOUS” feeling I wanted out of it. Combined with the fanfiction-esque romance of Tucker and Caroline (seriously, if I wanted a fanfiction, I would’ve read one instead), it made me want to give Carnal Innocence only 1 star. It gets two-and-a-half simply because as much as I hate to admit it, I fell for Innocence’s irresistible Southern charm.

The Rating:

The only reason I didn’t give Carnal Innocence one star is because Innocence, Mississippi charmed my pants off. My rating of two and a half is simply because I like to be charmed once in a while – and there’s nothing wrong with that.


  1. Hello, I just stopped by on the blog hop & became a follower. I'm looking forward to reading your posts.


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