The Inn Crowd by Melody Rush
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Rarely have I read a novel that has no redeeming qualities to at least alleviate the pain from its issues. “The Inn Crowd” by Melody Rush is such a rare exception.
It starts with the title which is a painful pun on the inn, run by the heroine and her past as an in-girl (“Janey Dee”) and influencer.
It continues right on the cover below the title: Can someone explain why neither Haden nor Sarah Jane have eyes? Did the money for the artist run out before the eyes were done? Did the artist know they had no talent for painting eyes? Did the poor artist maybe actually read the novel and wished they had no eyes afterwards?
The story is also… challenged: Former social media influencer Sarah Jane Darby has accidentally live-streamed her then-boyfriend and herself when the former confronted her with her sex toys, accused her of cheating him by using those and dumped her. In their world, Sarah Jane’s fans take his side and hate-comment on the video…
Ever since, Sarah Jane has been hiding away at her late grandmother’s declining inn which Sarah Jane inherited, having developed agoraphobia and never leaving the inn’s grounds.
Enter Haden, a sleazy “billionaire” working as an employee for some development company, who wants to buy the inn. Insta-love ensues – and that’s my first major complaint: They’ve just met and immediately fall for each other. Just like a switch has been thrown.
I never warmed to either Haden or Sarah Jane: He’s a shallow flatterer whose foremost concern at any given point is either getting the inn or getting into Sarah Jane’s bed.
He’s prone to deep thinking…
»But [the “morning wood problem” is] getting harder each day—pun intended.«
… and Haden is a very manly man who’s extremely possessive as well…
»And yet, my face is just as hot, my body every bit as tense as if someone had come after my property. My home.
Most importantly, my woman.
Whoever did this won’t get away with it—not on my watch.«
At that point, I was waiting for him to pound his chest and fetch a club.
When a new guest arrives of whom both Sarah Jane and Haden are immediately suspicious, Sarah Jane doesn’t do the obvious and turns said guest away; no, she actually welcomes them, lets them perform several acts of sabotage (including setting a fire) and even then lets them stay…
Haden is unfazed by such trifles anyway: He points out that it was no accident and then barely hesitates before asking Sarah Jane out on a date…
»“An accident doesn’t shatter every single jar.” I frown at the wreckage.
“True.” Haden hesitates before continuing, “Listen, I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in joining me for a day trip to the city. There’s an art exhibit I’ve been wanting to see and thought it might be a good distraction for you.”«
Haden also keeps deciding what’s good or bad for Sarah Jane, what she needs to know and keeps important facts from her…
»I take a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves before returning to Sarah Jane. I can’t let her know what I just learned from Beatrice; it would only scare her and disrupt her delicate sense of safety at the inn. She doesn’t need any more worry in her life.«
Sarah Jane is extremely naïve: She basically believes everything Haden tells her and lets herself be led around and basically be cheated out of 50% of her inn by Haden.
Worst of all, though, is the author’s ineptness in writing: “she really does enjoy pleasing people’s palettes with her food“
Dear Melody, I think you were actually looking for the term “palates”. (Palettes are notoriously hard to please!)
»“Here, here!” her supporters echo, raising their glasses in unison.«
If only the author knew that the supporters actually want to stress the point in question and, thus, say “Hear, hear!”…
Rush also writes with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer when writing about Sarah Jane’s “angelic face” – and at the same time relegates her to second rank by usually writing two chapters in a row from Haden’s point of view but only one from Sarah Jane’s.
The language used by Rush is simplistic: Short sentences with very simple sentence structure and all the linguistic skills and graces of a high school dropout – and that’s not even taking “palettes” or “here, here” into account…
For all this, there can be only one star out of five.
Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam
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The Inn Crowd by Melody Rush