I have come to the realization that men are different from women. Writers, that is. I know, duh, there are anatomical issues, and male writers write different stuff than women. And granted, I am primarily a romance reader, so I kind of expect a specific outcome for my protagonists, the Happily Ever After. The heroine falls for the hero, he falls for her, they fight, they work it out.
Now granted, sometimes the hero might fall for the other hero AND the heroine and trice-versa, or some variation of the theme. Sometimes the heroine might shop around a little bit before winding up with the hero, but we always know who is supposed to get with whom.
Last week I read two different books by male writers, and in both books, the heros wanted to get with a woman. But I got the distinct impression that it didn't need to be a specific woman. In both books there were a couple to choose from, and the most convenient woman "won". WTF? Now, granted, neither was a romance. Both were thriller/suspense/mysteries, but in both, we know, early on, that the hero has a love interest. And it changes somewhere along the line, and it's like, "Oh well, that one's not working out, but this one's here, so I'll do her instead."
I was kind of swishing this thought around in my mind, and then I read a story by Chloe Cole, "Conned" in the recently released anthology, Undercover Lovers, (which I highly recommend when you are in the mood to be "in the mood"). In "Conned", human sexuality professor Cricket and biology professor Tuck decide to do an experiment with aphrodisiacs. There is a discussion of what works for women, and what works for men. Cricket says that "A man can literally F%3k a watermelon..."
And yet somehow, still, Cricket and Jack find their HEA! Of course, maybe it just wasn't watermelon season.
Exhibit A: Long Lost, by Harlan Coben
Let me just say that I LUUUUURRRVE Harlan Coben novels. He is the Supreme King of the Universe of bizzare plot twists. I especially adore the Myron Bolitar series. Myron is a former almost-professional basketball player turned sports agent and crime fighter. I also love Myron's main trusty sidekick, wealthy ne'er do well and slut puppy, Win, who also sidelines as not only a trusty sidekick but closet ninja warrior in his own right. Myron is an all-round good guy with a hero complex. He's NOT a slut puppy, except...
As Long Lost begins, Myron is in a relationship with a nice woman with children. He gets a phone call from a long-lost lover (hence the title, I'm guessing), who invites him to Paris for a good time. He is conflicted. Conveniently, his soccer mom girlfriend gives him the heave-ho. Myron shrugs his shoulders and heads to Paris. Really? Come ON, Myron! Now granted, he needs to get with the long lost lover in order to run into international terrorist and rescue damsels in distress and give Win a chance to do his thing. But I need Myron to feel a little more angst over switching bedmates so easily. Not that I won't give him a second chance. Or even a third.
Exhibit B: Dinosaur Hunter, by Homer Hickam
This was a fun book. I downloaded it as an audiobook from the library and it got me through hours of manipulating photos of cell culture scratch wound assays (you don't want to know what that means. It's not very exciting). The basic premise is that this retired cop-turned-cowboy is living on a ranch, in love with the woman who own the ranch, and some dinosaur hunters show up and want to do a dig on the property. There are Russian mobsters:
(I alway picture my boyfriend Viggo Mortensen when I think of Russian mobsters), small town politics, survivalist/right-wing separatists, teen love, all kinds of stuff. But here's the thing: At the beginning of the book, Mike tells us he's in love with his lady rancher, but it's love from afar, he's afraid to act on his feelings, maybe she's still in love with her dead husband, yada yada. Mike's had an affair with the married mayor of the nearest town, but that's over. Then the dinosaur hunter guy shows up with two women assistants. Both seem willing and interested in doing Mike. Almost arbitrarily, it seems, he winds up with the Russian one. And okay, she's the more damaged of the two women, needs a hero, etc., but early on, it appears that Mike really doesn't mind WHO he gets with, as long as he gets with someone. He falls in love with the one who crawls into his tent.
Is this true of all guy-thrillers? I'm thinking that I had the same issue with the John Sandford novels, though it's been a while since I read him.
I've been thinking of diving into the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child, but I need to maybe wait until summer is over and there aren't so many watermelons laying around. But by then the pumpkins will be ripe. Sigh.