Review: Purely Decorative by Angelina Cabo

Purely Decorative CoverAs I said earlier this week on my Facebook page, from the beginning I knew this book wasn’t something I’d typically pick up. It’s well written (though there were some grammatical things I caught that made me think, she should have had someone check it over more thoroughly – nothing huge, just enough to make me notice). Part of my objections may have been related to the casual drug use outlined in the book – actually a central part to the book – and I tend to shy away from that sort of thing. Call it a prudishness, if you want; my thoughts more run to “why would you do that to your body?” Still, at my oldest I was a toddler in the 80s, so I can’t tell you much about that time period in my home state, let alone in London.

The main character, Zoe, definitely has her faults. Those are more highlighted than the good parts of her personality. (In all honesty, I’m not sure I remember many good parts to her. She’s loyal. Um…)

The book is about her falling in love with this misogynistic jerk named Raoul who can be both loving and charming, but likes to stare at other women, admiring them, and blows up at her for little things that could easily have been handled quietly and tactfully. Part of it is he’s from Caracas, in South America, so you have the whole Latin American machismo thing going. I’m not attracted to that type at all, so it was harder for me to empathize with Zoe.

Most romance books I read – the good ones, anyway – I go along with main female character as they fall in love with the male character. I empathize and end up rooting for them both to succeed and figure everything out. I didn’t do that in this book. I found myself wanting Zoe to straighten up, get away from Raoul and move on, feeling maybe a bit more morally high, or something. Nothing endeared me to any of the main characters, but I’m young yet, I guess.

I do want to commend this author: this story has a more real-life feel to it that many romance books don’t have. The ending isn’t necessarily a happy one. It’s not unhappy, but it left me with a feeling that there was a good possibility there would be more hearts broken before the very end of this couple’s story (after the book ends). It’s harder to tell a more real-life-like story, to not wrap up the story in a pretty bow and make everything end up all right. I read that this book was based on a real life story off of “All The Books I Can Read” wordpress blog, which makes me wonder if more hearts really were broken, or if everything turned out all right in the end.

The end bothered me for another reason. (Spoiler here.) Raoul sends her earrings he’d bought her on their trip and a plane ticket to his home. This immediately made me think, “He’s trying to buy her?” To be honest, I don’t think he would think of it this way, but the thought had to have crossed Zoe’s mind. I don’t know whether it’s a positive or a negative about her that she ends up going back to him after that. Maybe it was something to do with her financial situation, too; not trying to be crass, but she doesn’t have much going for her in London.

The book made me think some, which I am happy about. Any book that makes you think is worth reading. I may need to go find some happy-ending books now, though, to make up for this dose of a possible reality.

I'm a lover of writing and books. I graduated from South Dakota State with a master's degree in communications in 2011, the same year I was first published. I'm a wife and mom, and I work in content and digital marketing in South Dakota.

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