Queen of Broken Hearts by Cassandra King

Mike and I would never have a conversation like this:

KARI: Remember the time we came back from vacation and we had turned the heat off and our apartment was so cold and it took forever for the baseboards to heat up and we put on our warmest clothes and drank hot chocolate and put every blanket we owned on the bed and went to sleep and when we woke up it was wonderfully, blessedly warm in our house?

MIKE: That was so funny.

Instead, our conversation might be like this:

KARI: Remember that time it was so cold when we came back from vacation?

MIKE: Heh. Yes. It was so cold!

And, if we were in a novel (a novel based on us would be very boring, it seems), now might be the time for me, the narrator, to explain to you, the reader, more of the story. How we were trying to save money on electricity, so we turned the baseboards off when we left for vacation, and how we returned to a frigid apartment. How baseboards aren’t the most effective heating system, and how we thought our apartment would never be warm again (until July, at which time we knew it wouldn’t cool down). How we laughed so hard as we got into bed, because, to newlyweds, things like this are hilarious. But I don’t need to tell Mike the story. Because he was there. (Well, maybe that’s a bad example, because men don’t seem to remember details as well as women, but Mike remembers this story, at least, so I don’t have to explain it to him.)

The first half of Cassandra King’s new book, Queen of Broken Hearts, was full of the first kind of conversation. And I just found myself thinking, over and over, “If these characters have really known each other as long as they say, why are their conversations full of exposition about the past?” I mean, I know why, but it was annoying. And I think it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s clunky. It made me think of one of my favorite Muppet quotes:

MISS PIGGY: Why are you telling me all this?

LADY HOLIDAY: It’s plot exposition. It has to go somewhere.

(Full disclosure: I have never seen The Great Muppet Caper. Does anyone have a copy I can borrow?)

I keep thinking that maybe I like Cassandra King, but . . . maybe that’s not true after all. I liked The Sunday Wife pretty well (though I read most of it after my first eye surgery, so I was slightly impaired), but The Same Sweet Girls and Queen of Broken Hearts both felt forced to me. The Southern stuff didn’t ring true – it was so over the top, and the characters weren’t very nice people. I gave this one a try because people talk about her so much. What I liked the least about this one was how forced so much of the plot was. Something terrible happened to our main character’s husband, and in the end, she finally deals with it. I have read books where the main character refused to think about something tragic that happened, and then, in the end, she is forced to tell someone or admit it to herself. And that is often when the reader finds out what is going on as well. That was the case in this book. Except . . . I didn’t feel like the “big revelation” felt organic to the story. There were all these hints about it, but it honestly just felt like I was being strung along, like she wasn’t telling me simply so I would keep reading. I think she tried to set up that our main character had blocked it out, but other things that were said didn’t really indicate that to be true. Basically, the ambiguity was forced, as I said before. And it didn’t intrigue me. I just found it irritating.

So, I find I don’t really want to discuss the plot of this book. You can read about it yourself on Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you are interested. Suffice it to say that . . . I think I won’t read another one of hers.

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