What it is: Cry No More by Linda Howard is a mystery/romance novel centered on Milla Edge, a woman whose six-week-old baby was violently torn from her in a Mexican open-air market. She dedicatedly spends the next ten years trying to find her son, Justin, which is both dangerous and difficult due to the smugglers’ conniving tricks and connections.
What I liked about it: The pacing of the novel is fast and exciting, and the foreshadowing is perfectly balanced–enough suspense to keep the reader’s interest peaked but also enough information to prevent confusion or frustration. The relationships Milla forms throughout feel genuine, and the ending is emotional yet satisfying (I cried, okay? I said it. I cried. Real tears, too.). I didn’t feel the romance novel vibe until 200 pages in–though it was definitely present when it arrived–and those sections of the novel were well done too.
What I didn’t like about it: At the beginning, Howard’s writing felt a bit contrived and formulaic, like she was aiming for what a mystery novel “should be” instead of letting an authentic voice show. Similarly, Milla occasionally felt annoyingly perfect (we get it, she’s not a standard beauty, but she’s still charming to all the men in her life). Both of those elements improved throughout the novel, though, and I became less distracted by those qualms as the story really heated up.
Memorable quote: “She’d been a challenge from the moment he’d first seen her, but he had stubbornly courted her until she couldn’t help but notice him as a person rather than a moving part of the scenery.” (Admittedly this quote means almost nothing in the grand scheme of the story, but “a moving part of the scenery” resonated with me, and there were no other quotes throughout that really jumped out at me.)
Overall rating: 4.5/5 stars.
Challenge satisfied: #13, read a romance novel.
Additional notes: I selected this book from a list of “surprisingly feminist romance novels,” because I figured that would need to be my entry point into a genre known for being riddled with misogyny and/or unrealistic descriptions of sex. So I expected it to be surprisingly feminist. And it wasn’t. But it was okay, feminism-wise. Milla is a relatively strong character and demands a high level of respect from her male companions, but I occasionally raised an eyebrow at condescending dialogue.
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