Friday, November 11, 2016

Great Plot: Smug Protagonist & Zero Chemistry between Main Characters

   I am almost finished reading a romantic suspense novel that has an intriguing plot and some really great plot twists. 
   I can't put it down--even though I don't like the female lead. 
   And I can't feel any chemistry--as in none at all--between the two main characters who say they are falling for each other. I won't mention the fact that the conflict between the two and the obstacles to their happiness, of which there aren't many, seem contrived.
    But I'm telling you, the author nailed it on the plot, which is based on compelling subject matter.
   In spite of my fascination with the plot, which is strong, the smug bluntness of the main character grates on my nerves and appears to be an attempt by the author at presenting a strong female lead. But she isn't coming across that way to me, the reader. at all. 
   Getting back to the romance, there is such a disconnect between the two main characters, that in spite of the characters saying they are attracted to each other, my skin kind of crawls when they touch or kiss. The male protagonist is nice enough but kind of vague. He seems more like a secondary character than the hero of the story.
   The subject matter that drives the plot is gripping, as I said, and this story is completely plot driven. 
   There are a few secondary characters I can see clearly, The author did an excellent job of fleshing one out and making him likable, but there is no hint of romance between him and the main character, and I am almost to the finale, so I don't think there are any surprises in store there. 
   Now, if  I am having this adverse reaction to the female lead and can't see the male protagonist clearly because the author planned it that way, and is planning to bring about a redemption of her main character's goody goody character traits, and if it turns out that another plot twist is coming, and the nice enough hero isn't a hero at all but a bad guy instead, and the well developed secondary character steps up to the plate and becomes the hero, then, Wow! The author is a brilliant writer indeed. 
   I hope that is the case. 
   If so, the story will definitely be reviewed.
  I am posting this non-book-review now, even though I am not quite finished with the book,  and even though these problems with the story may turn out to be deliberate on the author's part (I hope so!), because I felt my reaction to the characters and their relationship could indeed be due to serious flaws in the story and character development, and are things that we, as writers, should be looking out for as we craft our own characters and develop relationships in the novels we write. 

 J Ellen Andersen (Jocelyn Ellen Andersen) is best known for her book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence.  She is also editor of the Hungry Hearts Online Bible Commentary  and is currently at work on her first novel! For more information about her work, visit her website at


   When I write a non-book-review, that does not mean that I am writing something else besides a book review. It means that I am actually writing a book review. 
   But it is one of those reviews that is not "stellar." When that happens, I review the book in a constructive critique meant to help all writers. But I never mention a book title or the name of an author in a non-book-review.
   My goal in writing non-book-reviews, is not to discourage or hinder hard working, awesome, Christian authors, from growing in their craft, but rather to critique aspects of a book that hindered my personal enjoyment of it.     
  My book reviews help readers find great books. My non-book-reviews help writers write better books.

J Ellen's Christian Book Review: No bad reviews!

   No bad reviews. How great is that!? As I launch into book reviewing again, I maintain my commitment to promoting good Christian fiction rather than criticizing the creative efforts of authors as they hone their crafts. That being said, I will read every book I receive but will only review those I can give stellar reviews for.  
   At this time, I am only accepting fiction works for reviewing. I love reading (but am not limited to) Christian Mainstream fiction (both historical and contemporary), Christian Romantic Suspense and Historical Romance, especially out of the box stuff like MaryLu Tyndall's pirate romances.    
   Although I am a fan of mystery and suspense, if a book is written from a Christian world view, I want to read it--regardless of genre!
   Kudos to MaryLu Tyndall as a shining example of how to be true to yourself as a writer. Write what you love--not what you think the market is begging for. M. L. Tyndall had a passion for pirate lore so created her own unique genre--Pirate Romance--and continues to write great books in a romantic niche she carved out for herself.
    Regardless of genre, I particularly love characters who challenge stereotypes, and I adore character driven stories.
   If you have a book to submit for review, mail a hard-copy to:

 J Ellen's Christian Book Review, 113 Cotton Ct., Auburndale, FL 33823

Happy writing!