Harte, Marie. The Troublemaker Next Door. Sourcebooks, 2014. ISBN 978-1402287343 304 pp. $12.99
This story about neighbors who hook up because they don’t have time for a real relationship, and then, predictably, catch feelings, is so disappointing.
The sex scenes are hot, but the author’s choice of referring to a character (Vanessa) as “Hitler with a mop” in chapter 5 (page 272 of 1498 in the ebook version on OverDrive) because she is neat is so incredibly offensive and minimizes the horrific suffering millions of Jews, gypsies, and homosexual people endured at the hands of Nazis. Using a powerful word freely and casually diminishes its impact and the losses of people who suffered. A writer can and must choose her words with care.
As offensive as the misuse of the word “Nazi” is the introduction of characters with alternative sexualities are introduced and a main character makes several jokes about switching teams as if being gay or lesbian is a choice.
And THEN there were scenes with the female characters worrying over their weight and food choices (“normally she’d avoid the greasy meats and starches”), perpetuating women’s body issues.
The three female friends in the story “own” terms like slut and whore, but this was grating and rung out as outdated shaming of casual sex.
The sexual harassment subplot that the book opens with is never resolved.
The novel relies on stock characters (the blue collar guy, the starting over business woman on a rebound) and romance tropes (fit bodies, big dicks, multiple orgasms).
The missed opportunity to give Seattle more of a starring character role is also disappointing.
Published in 2014, this reads like something from the early 1990s. There are SO many better contemporary books out there with fully-fleshed characters who are complex, evolved, and woke. Sourcebooks, you need better editing of your authors.