Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: The British Devil by Greg Hogben

The British DevilFrom the blurb:

British national Greg Stephens knew there would be challenges in his new relationship with handsome American Navy officer Danny Taylor: long distance; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the Defense of Marriage Act; US immigration…. 

But he didn’t anticipate his greatest obstacle: Danny’s born-again Christian mother, Vivien. A secretary in a small-town Southern Baptist church in Texas, she bristles at Greg’s secular beliefs. Through passive-aggressive manipulation, subtle deceit, or outright battle, Vivien resolves to banish Greg and return Danny to the fold, come hell or high water. Greg’s hold on Danny’s heart is pitted against Vivien’s crusade for Danny’s soul. 

All the while, Greg devotes himself to keeping Danny happy while negotiating the cultural differences of his life in America. Danny’s new career as a lawyer takes them from his native Texas to New York. But with Vivien testing Greg’s stiff upper lip at every turn, something has to give.

Heather rating:




This book made me kind of mad.

"The British Devil" is a semi-autobiographical book about an international relationship between an American and a British man. More specifically, it is about how the American character has an uber-Christian mother who is out to destroy the relationship between the two MCs. I'd say 80% of this book dealt with either religious issues or problems within Greg and Danny's relationship. While some readers found it to be humorous, I did not. I was actually really stressed while reading it.

I think what turned me off from this book more than anything was the judgmental tone of Greg (aka the author/MC). Now, I'm an American but I'm not like a "Ho Rah!" American. I'm not one to talk about American superiority, or lack their of, and I'm more than willing to admit that my country isn't perfect. However, I felt like Greg was outright disdainful of all things American and made gross generalizations about the culture.

"In New York, the poor were surrounded by some of the wealthiest people in the world, who would sling a coat on their arm that was worth the same about as two years' worth of begging on the street. I recognized that torment behind their eyes. But unlike the look of desperate starvation in Mombasa, the poor in New York had a look of desperate jealousy. Of course, we had the same thing in Britain, but to me it seemed like the British passes by without a look if they had no desire to help- which was also very harsh, as it gave the impression that these people were invisible and not worth acknowledging. But in New York, it seemed that people walked past and made a point of screwing up their noses or muttering something insulting at the homeless, acting as though they were merely getting in the way by blocking the sidewalk as the richer residents power walked past."

Generalize there much? The book is filled with quotes like that, trashing Americans for being rude, tacky, and overweight.

"I knew Americans tended to be loud, but it still wound me up the wrong way despite being in their company so long."



"I went from being quietly cautious about my personal safety to laughing out loud in the street as I saw scores of women who had seen far too many episodes of Sex and the City. They looked unsure whether their ridiculous 'couture' dress sense clashed with the ten-dollar knockoff neon-green handbag they just bought from one of the local bootleggers in Chinatown."

"As I put my arm around him I noticed a couple walking toward us. The man was an extremely overweight redneck wearing white shorts and an XXXL T-shirt with an array of freshwater fish printed on the front, pushing a cart full of brightly colored boxes of corn dogs, pizza, and Tex-Mex ready-made meals. His wife, barely smaller than her husband, pulled her peroxide blond hair back into a vicious ponytail and was trying to pull off a pink-frilled sleeveless top that didn't match the camouflage shorts, which were bursting at the thighs."

It doesn't just stop at Americans. Apparently, you have to be the "right kind of gay" for Greg to think you're okay.

"Although they were near perfect to look at in the gym and fully clothed, the changing room revealed their extreme body acne, the telltale signs of steroid abuse. But any kind of fantasy about their ripped physiques would drop the instant they opened their mouths. No man who gives the world the impression of supreme masculinity should have pink glitter spill from his mouth when he speaks. How the hell they held up those heavy weights with such limp wrists remains a mystery to me."

Lets count the ways Greg is judgmental: Gay stereotyping and douchiness? Making fun of fem guys? Fat shaming? Calling someone a redneck? Making fun of pre-packaged food? People that bleach their hair? Americans? New Yorkers? What kills me is that Greg kept being appalled at how Danny's mom was judgmental of non-Christians and yet Greg was just as bad!

Apparently you are only a mean person if you make fun of things that GREG deems wrong (aka gay rights, some minorities) but it is okay to mock just about anything else. I found Greg to be horribly hypocritical.

Now onto the issue of Danny's mom, aka the super-Christian. This book is semi-autobiographical and if Danny's mom was 1/8 the evil woman that she was shown to be in this book, then I truly feel sorry for Greg and Danny. We were meant to dislike the woman and I did. However, I don't really enjoy reading about religion and religion is discussed throughout the majority of the book. I thought, based on the blurb, that it would be kind of a side plot and not the main focus of the book... but it was. There was very little romance in this story (and no sex on page, no mention of sex for that matter). Most of the story is religious battles and Greg and Danny having arguments dealing with the stress of being long distance and having difficult work schedules. I really wasn't that interested in all of that.

I think part of the problem is that I couldn't personally relate to the story that much. I have read a few reviews where people have also had to contend with small-town personalities and very religious people, and so I think they have a connection to this story that I didn't have. I wanted some humor, some romance, some heat, something positive! All I got was a MC that I didn't like all that much (Greg) and a lot of complaining.

The ending almost dropped my rating to 1 star because I hated it so much (I should probably rate 1 star anyway because I'm picking this book apart!). 

Okay, I think you guys figured out that this didn't work for me. I can see why, with the right reader, they would like this, but I certainly did not. The only reason I'm keeping this as two stars is that it was very readable and I stayed up late to see what would happen. Other than that, it was a miss.



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