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I Can't Believe the Author Actually Wrote This
on September 16, 2010
This book is embarrassingly bad. In fact, I find it hard to believe that the same author who wrote "A Woman of Substance" (one of my favorite books ever) also wrote this.
"Breaking the Rules" starts off as the story of a young English woman, enigmatically called "M," who is brutally attacked, then moves to New York City to reinvent herself and become a top fashion model. This being a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel, M is, of course, an absolutely gorgeous, stunning, talented, smart, well-bred Audrey Hepburn look-alike who also happens to be knowledgeable about a vast array of subjects like art, history and foreign languages. Her friends are all beautiful, too, and the man she falls in love with--at first sight, of course--is handsome, adoring and uber rich (would we expect anything else?).
BTB's books are about beautiful people who live exciting, glamorous lives, so I wasn't expecting anything deep. But I also wasn't expecting total fluff, and the writing here is so bad I was appalled. For example... at one point, M's husband says to himself (and I quote): "If anything, she was more beautiful than ever, ethereal, and it struck him suddenly that she didn't walk, she floated." (Believe it or not, he's thinking this about his own mother!) The dialogue is equally atrocious. There's not a single person in real life who talks the way BTB's characters do. And worst of all, despite all the books she's written, BTB doesn't seem to have learned one of the basic rules of writing--to show, not tell. BTB tells us over and over again that M is so special, that there's no one else in the world like M, and on and on and on, but she fails to show us why we're supposed to believe this. To me, M seems like a rather bland character who's thrown into some extraordinary situations--but personality wise, there's nothing all that unique about her.
I'm giving this 2 stars instead of 1 because the book is halfway interesting in the beginning (if I could, I would have rated this 1 1/2 stars). There's not much plot, but I was somewhat interested in finding out if M would make it in the modeling world and if her perfect romance would remain perfect (although I already knew the answer would be yes on both counts). But suddenly, without any foreshadowing, everything changes about two-thirds of the way through the story. M fades into the background, a dozen or so new characters are introduced and the novel morphs into an incomprehensible mystery. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I've read a lot of BTB books, so I was familiar with the new characters and their backgrounds. The mystery was an utter bore and totally unnecessary, but at least I was able to follow the plot. But readers who haven't read any of the later Harte Family series will be find themselves scratching their heads, completely confused.
If I had realized that this was another installment in the never-ending Harte saga, I never would have picked up this book. Obviously, BTB has made a fortune off of the Harte family soap opera. But I think it's time for her to move on and put the franchise to rest. I, for one, never want to read another word about the Hartes and the glamorous but trouble-filled world they live in.