Jul 11, 2009

Well, there went my last brain cell. I need another vacation.

In & Out
Year One in the Jumping for Gold Series
by Barbara Moss

I thought very little of the cover until I noticed that the rider had a braid going down his back, and then I couldn't help the snickering that followed. I could explain myself now, but I think my thoughts on this will become clear in the review.

In & Out is a horse tale like no other. A sprawling narrative filled with romance, intrigue, and excitement, it also provides a clear-eyed and wholly realistic view of the equestrian world, offering the kind of authentic details about horses, riding techniques, and business practices that only an insider could provide. At the center of the story stands Jericho Brandeis, an ambitious yet untamed man who seeks glory on his own terms. An intriguing cast of characters surrounds him, including the wealthy patron Bob Marx, the only man who can help Jericho realize his dreams, Marx's sexy young wife, Darien, whose illicit love could become Jericho's downfall, U.S. Chef d'Equip Chuck Frankel, the closest thing to a father figure Jericho has ever known, hunk bartender Trevor Braeden, Jericho's friend and rival, and the indomitable stallion Chasseur de Lion, an alluring yet potentially fatal challenge to Jericho's considerable horsemanship. Jericho must maneuver his way through a hazardous maze of violence, corruption, and seduction if he is to fulfill his aspirations at the World Equestrian Games. The adventures of Jericho Brandeis, full of passion, promise, and turmoil, will thrill all lovers of horses and of adventure and romance.

The In-Depth Analysis:
Has anyone ever watched those Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World? If not, go and watch. I find that watching all of them will help you better prepare yourself for what you're about to go through, because Jericho Brandeis is The Most Interesting Man in the World. He can take five foot jumps without the aid of a horse, and still win. He can use spangled elastics and ribbons in his flowing hair, and still be a turn on to all women everywhere. He is...Jericho Brandeis, the Most Interesting Man in Wellington, Florida. And possibly the whole of New York. In a really slutty, creepy way.

Truth be told, I don't even know where to begin. This book is 618 pages long, a fact I find endlessly entertaining. From what I gather, this is Barbara Moss's first book. A 618 page debut. Also, this is the first in a series. If the trends I've seen from just about every author penning sprawling epics, series like these just get longer. I can only imagine that the second installment is sitting at maybe 1,300 pages right now. And that frightens me. Truly. Last, but certainly not least, the way this book was written is full of fragments, comma splices, ellipses, weirdly redundant one to two word sentences like "Told him." which confuses me because obviously someone is telling someone something when there is dialogue. Basically, it's bad grammar ahoy. The fact that most of the description is hacked down to appear macho and irritatingly confident means that if she'd tried to do something that didn't grate on my nerves this book would have been twice as long and a true disaster.

However, typos and relative lack of any evidence that this tome was edited by anyone at all aside, let's talk about Jericho...the most interesting man in Wellington, Florida. Jericho is a pain in the ass. He's actually someone I would like to run over with my car. Jericho is basically machismo defined, and as the story lumbers along you are hit in the face repeatedly with his virile, chauvinistic self. Ultimately, it's so flagrant it's hilarious. Jericho is gorgeous. He has long hair, which is sexy according to most romance covers. He has an attitude problem. He is animalistic to the point of glorification, but mainly all I wanted was someone to show him how to use a condom appropriately, because clearly safe sex is either too complicated for him to grasp or is not manly enough and therefore a threat to his virility. He does three things: ride horses well, screw around in a manner the author seems to think is well, and gets into arguments that tend to result in his opponents feeling his wrath as he walks off mostly unscathed. He's that sort of guy. Lovable, right?

Well, everyone wants to love him. In varying ways, I guess. First up is Cin, who comes on to him within the first ten pages and is rebuffed because she is old and married. Second is Brae, the Starbucks barista that Jericho randomly invites to be his new roommate. Brae spends most of his time reassuring himself that he is not gay, and decides that the best way to prove this is to take pictures of Jericho having sex with Ailynn (number three on the loving Jericho list) while he is also in the room, also naked. Oh, I'm sorry. NUDE. Whatever. That's at the 30 page mark. Are you not impressed? Now, in my opinion, this scenario is rife with homoeroticism. In the opinion of this book, it is RAGING PROOF that Brae and Jericho both are straight. How, I don't know. I guess just having a vagina there is all it takes. Moving on.

So, shit happens. I am not going to deny that Barbara Moss seems to know what she's talking about in all of these riding scenes. She's certainly knowledgeable, but she gets bogged down in the details. Most of this book is just one huge inability to decipher a storyline, actually. It reads like it's trying to only subject you to eight months in the life of a jackass, not craft a story. That's one of the biggest things that bothered me about it. Anyway, turns out Ailynn is also married. That slut! Well, clearly the answer is to have sex with Darien, another married woman, (number four on the list of Jericho's loves) while breaking and entering. Hell, why not?

Fifth love is U.S. Chef d'Equip Chuck Frankel, father figure of Jericho's fatherless life, who starts to coach him. Sixth love is Bee-Bee, who I sort of liked before she became enamored with Jericho and immediately had to become "timid" in the face of his "animalistic" nature or what all. And then there is jumping and color commentary and at one point Jericho finds out who his mommy is and Darien's husband has an affair with Ailynn, which develops into the weirdest conversation ever that I have got to stop and talk about before I end this review because THIS is how awful this book is toward women as a whole.

Okay. Darien and Ailynn are off the pill because Marx, Darien's husband, had a vasectomy. Marx feels it is necessary to tell Jericho that if either of them winds up pregnant, he will obviously know who the father is because I suppose Jericho's inability to comprehend condoms is common knowledge. If this should happen, he will fly them off to the nearest clinic and will have the child aborted. Just. Like. That. And Jericho has a fit about this for All. The. Wrong. Reasons. Well, the main reason being that this hypothetical child is His.

So, yeah. Wrap your head around that nugget of awfulness.

And then, naturally, Darien gets pregnant. You'd think this abortion conversation would have been all anyone would need to run to the supermarket and buy out all of their condoms, but because Jericho has this unyielding desire to make any given woman "his" by ejaculating in them (I am not kidding...that one was on page 500 something) this clearly isn't the case. And then Marx forces the abortion. And then he tries to idly chat Bee-Bee into sex, which I'm shocked she managed to avoid because after one sexual encounter with Jericho all women seem to fall limp or suddenly lack brain cells.

Okay, I can't talk about this anymore. Basically: glorification of all that is macho and then some. It was like Roadhouse for the horsey set. If you can imagine Roadhouse as a 618 page novel, I'm sure you're mortified. I know I am.


Heather said...

OK, I hate books like this, but I think I'm going to have to read this one. Just because, no offense Mara, I just can't believe all that's in there without seeing it myself. This is a Pandora's Box of crappy fiction. I just hope when I open it, it won't vomit horrible fiction upon the world.

Mara said...

By all means, see for yourself! Writing the review for this was a bit difficult because the book was so offensive as a whole. It's just a continuous barrage. You will not be disappointed, I am sure.

BushBaby said...

Roadhouse! Ah, Mara. You need to read a Jilly Cooper book, stat!

BushBaby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ace said...

Despite the train wreck that this book seems to be, I am tempted into reading it. I think this because I have been reading nonstop for AP English all summer and I need something utterly ridiculous to read. ...unless anyone has any other suggestions?

Molly said...

The book lost me at naming the main character Jericho Brandeis. What the shit.

Mara said...

Eventually you get an explanation for the name. And it is somehow the combination of Jessica and Ricco. Not to mention, you know, the city.

Of course, almost everyone has an exotic name in this book. It's one of the many red flags.

hwbowen said...

This book made me laugh and laugh. And then: laugh.

(Here's mine: http://buymeaclue.livejournal.com/438891.html)

Anonymous said...

So I'm sure this makes me a bad person, but I kind of heart this book. Ignoring the horrible non-sentences, the asshole unrealistic main character, the vomit-worthy machismo, and the pathetic female characters who only want sex (and yes, that about 550 pages of the book) there are TERRIFIC equine characters. I love QL, and Lion, and the rest - they're very Wonder and Friends on crack. And the author clearly knows a thing or two about the Florida circuit - all of that was spot on. So I've maybe read it once or twice (or 8 times - don't judge)

Mara said...

That totally does not make you a bad person! I do not regret a second that I spent on this book...okay, mainly because I found it so hilarious/freakishly offensive. However, I do agree with you. She knows what she's talking about when it comes to the horses and the circuit. She's just a bad writer. It can't be helped.

Anonymous said...

anyone else think in and out refers to sex rather than jumps?