Cry No More (which is available at OpenLibrary) is one of those books that makes me cry ugly tears every damned time. Oddly enough though, while it is one of my favorite books, it is also one of those books that I often don’t think about or remember until someone or something reminds me about it, and then I just have to re-read it. Others have said it better than I can, but I’ll do my best to show what makes this book so special/important to me.
1. This is the first romance novel that made me cry, and it wasn’t just crying, it was ugly crying. Those last chapters still just kill me.
2. This was the first novel that made me understand the allure of the emotionally detached and/or amoral hero. Diaz was just cold and had a serious lack of social skills. I loved him any way, he was fascinating and real in a way the prince charmings or alphaholes I’d read up until then simply weren’t, and was in a package that made me able to read the book and root for the couple. If you’ve read the now viral article, Things I’ve Learned About Heterosexual Female Desire From Decades Of Reading:
It’s really good when a man could hurt you and maybe spends a lot of time hurting other people but makes an exception in his hurting-people schedule for at least one woman he doesn’t hurt, but he could if he wanted to, only he doesn’t, so it would be great if he murdered everybody except for you and didn’t murder you even a little bit.
Yeah, this was the first time that kind of character worked for me. For better or worse, Linda Howard and Diaz were my gateway into heroes who weren’t “good”, and without this, there are so many heroes I adore today that likely never would have made any sense to me otherwise. Like Kaleb, Vasic, or even Aden (to an extent).
3. This was the first romance novel I can remember that had frank discussions between the two protagonists on safe sax, birth control, and blood tests. While this came out after Open Season (another book I adore and which has excellent realistic sex scenes and the funniest condom scenes I’ve ever read), it took several more years before Open Season came into my possession. And it didn’t take me out of the love scenes at all; it was touching and in character. This is the book that made me start questioning all the unsafe sex and obsession with going condomless “just because” that is so ubiquitous in romancelandia.
4. This was also the first book I ever read that used technical anatomical terms instead of being completely purple prose. And guess what? The world did not end, I was not shocked and I don’t even think I noticed it on the first read through even.
So those were all my “firsts” with romance, and the book would be special enough for me with just that, but the story itself was amazing, heart breaking, and the mystery and villains actually made sense. It is twisty, and turny, and dark, and violent, and emotional, and tender. It has characters you root for even when they aren’t “nice” or “good”, characters who break your heart. All the things you want and need from romantic suspense. This book may not be perfect, but it is probably one of the best romantic suspense I have read, and I highly recommend it. 5 stars