Yesterday I finished reading a book that started out quite promising. It was a secular romantic comedy with a subplot of suspense by an author I’ve never read before. Within the first few chapters I was ready to call my library to track down every previous book by this author. Slowly though two minor characters came into prominence. They were there to offer romantic counsel for the heroine and comedic relief. Unfortunately they weren’t very funny and they became more obnoxious and annoying as the story progressed.
Before long I was skimming sections where these characters turned up. Not only were those scenes only marginally integral to the storyline, one of the characters had a habit of dropping the F-bomb for no reason whatsoever.
I realize in fiction some writers feel the need to give their rebellious characters a colorful vocabulary. It’s especially true in thrillers and military intrigue. I can usually skip over a police officer with less than choir boy diction. But these ladies were hair stylists. Not usually a profession known for its stressful situations.
In a light-hearted moment of recollecting past loves where you or I…or just about anybody for that matter…might react with a “Seriously?” or “Wow.” the character in question dropped the bomb nearly every time she opened her mouth. Our heroine who had just met these women expressed no reaction though she never used profanity herself. Mind you, the story took place in a small Texas town, not a barroom or the Gaza Strip.
In the last chapter while our heroines were hot on the trail of the bad guy, who happened to already be sitting in jail by this time, the second hair stylist began dropping the bomb with every other word. Again, no reaction from other characters. To her credit she was in a stressful situation, but wouldn’t one of the other characters notice the alteration in her personality?
I’m sure there are hair stylists out there who let their hair down, so to speak, when I’m not around. But it seemed so unnatural and out of character for such language in normal, everyday conversation. I can overlook a lot of the language when it’s warranted, at least on some level. But it ruined the story for me and convinced me not to bother reading more books by this author.
What do you think? Am I a stick in the mud who needs to lighten up and enter the 21st century? Or does an author have some responsibility to her reader? Just wondering.