You might have noticed I’ve been posting a lot of reviews in the past few weeks. This is because I’m trying to review every book I read. I know I won’t get to 100%, but I want to try. Writing about a book after I read it is such a helpful way to organize my thoughts around it. But until making this commitment, I never bothered to review certain kinds of books—namely romance novels and other beautiful fluff. I love reading all sorts of books—serious and unserious alike—but I always felt that writing about most of the wonderful, beautiful fluff I read wasn’t worth it: what would I say?
The thing is, I can’t wholeheartedly love, support and advocate for a genre if I refuse to review books in that genre. Most romance novels don’t upend my world view or leave me utterly changed. But there’s always something to say about a book, even if it’s short and simple. In that spirit, my goal is for the reviews on this blog to be as varied and eclectic as the books I read.
Unfortunately, Treasure, which I was really looking forward to, was a disappointment. Here’s a quick summary of the plot: Two young women, Trisha and Alexis, meet at the strip club where Trisha works. They like each other. A few days later, they discover they go to the same college. They start dating. They become girlfriends. In the last fifteen pages, there’s a small conflict involving Alexis’s parents and their disapproval of Trisha, but it comes so late in the book and is over so fast as to feel insignificant. Basically, this book is smooth sailing: girl meets girl, girl gets girl, the end.
I often turn to romance for fun, light, escapist reading. I also enjoy its comforting predicability. In fact, I love this so much that I wrote a whole piece about it for Book Riot. I’ve read romances with gorgeous writing, incredible characterization, and surprising and creative plots. Some romances get right at the heart of human experience and ask big questions about identity and desire, while, at the same time, delivering a fun, sexy story. But every romance does not need to be all of those things for me to enjoy it. At a bare minimum, all I require is a bit of build-up, some tension and/or conflict, and a happy ending.
Here’s the thing: without any tension or conflict, happy endings don’t satisfy. In order for a story to feel satisfying, the characters have to overcome some obstacle, however small. There has to be something keeping them apart, internal or external, real or perceived, so that, when they finally work it out, you get that happy, melting feeling in your gut.
I actually loved the characters in this book. Trisha is a striper, and though Alexis’s more traditional parents judged her for it, it was never an issue between Trisha and Alexis. It was fantastic, positive sex-worker representation. It was also great to see two young black gay women so comfortable with themsleves, out and unapologetic. They each had their own internal struggles, but not about being gay. They both felt real and well-developed, despite this book being so short. I wanted to read these women’s story. I was rooting for them. But there just wasn’t enough a story to keep me interested. Great characters aren’t enough to make a book work.
That said, maybe books without conflict are your jam. If you’re looking for a sweet story about college girls falling in love, with a bare minimum of angst, some fun sexy times, and believable characters, you’ll probably love this more than I did.