A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Against a Wall by Cate C. Wells

on October 19, 2022

CW: death of a parent, violent threats, fights. Pretty mild in practice.

The theme: Dangerous to Know

Why This One: Just felt like reading it. The hero is pretty much dangerous not to know.

I enjoyed this while also being kind of aggravated by it. It’s an interesting take on the popular new adult “bullying” theme, because the bullying isn’t really dark, as it often gets in romance. It’s more of a teasing kind — making the inevitable “he did it because he liked her” storyline much more plausible.

The darkness in the story comes from the Glenna’s position as a target for hate — her journalist father wrote an article exposing a local hero as a traitorous thief — and from her loss of her mother at a young age. Young Cash Wall, thick as a brick, had no idea that his teasing originally drove her away from her friendship with him and his twin sister Dina, and that his continued pranks afterwards hit her in an especially vulnerable place.

As a suspense book, this doesn’t have much payoff. (Incidentally, it is linked to several much darker books, but you don’t need to have read them.) It’s mostly about the romance, though there’s also a pretty good arc of self-discovery for Glenna

What I liked: Cash is a classic romance Himbo, and quite a good one, as long as you take care not to wonder about his politics. (Dude has truck nuts, don’t tell me they’re anything good.) He’s the family blockhead, but of course he’s also incredibly competent, chivalrous, loving and devoted, and genuinely remorseful when he learns how much he really hurt Glenna. Glenna thinks “we don’t make sense,” mainly because Cash is so conventionally attractive and she isn’t, but there’s also their very different backgrounds and that she’s an introvert and he’s the life of the party. But the author makes it work.

What I didn’t like: The “wimpy other man” motif. Glenna’s ex, we learn, is pretty terrible and there’s really no need to also set things up so he comes off as pathetic and unmanly next to Cash. You don’t have to spit on skinny women to show a fat heroine is a good thing, and you don’t have to put down vegetarians or pacifists to show that a redneck hero is fine. Just… make him fine.


One response to “TBR Challenge: Against a Wall by Cate C. Wells

  1. azteclady says:

    If we could, as a society, learn that we can like/prefer something without having to vilify whatever we consider to be its opposite, imagine what a world that’d be.

    I’m glad this one mostly worked for you.

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