Being Dutch, but having lived in California for almost 11 years, I'll read any slashfic that takes place in the Netherlands. So far I have one wooden tulip in my bathroom and I go to Safeway with reusable grocery bags from Dirk and Xenos, but I'm sure in another decade or so I'll have Delft Blue plates on the wall, kissing Delft Blue couples on the bookshelf and a wooden shoe with flowers in it nailed next to the front door.
I am just saying.
Nostalgia is a force to be reckoned with.
So, eager for a glimpse of home, I read Dutch Treat. As for the romance, it's sweet (if not sickeningly so), which isn't my preferred kind, but plenty of people out there who that appeals to, so this one's for you. The only reason it wasn't sickeningly sweet is that the writing style creates a distance between the reader and Michael, who has 100% of the POV. Michael is a bit reserved, so that doesn't help. There is also a lot of telling and not showing, that doesn't help either. Lots of things happen, but we don't hear much about the impact of what is happening on Michael's life. And Michael's thoughts. Michael reminds me of my husband that way. When my husband has a problem he'll stoically deal with it all in his head and then he'll give me a one sentence synopsis of what's been making him withdrawn for the last three weeks. This frustrates me to no end, of course, because as a woman I don't actually care what he's finally decided, I just want him to talk about whatever he's been thinking about those 3 weeks, not just the productive parts. What I am getting from Michael in this book is the synopsis, while I wanted to be in his head for more of process. He's certainly a guy in that respect.
It being a sweet book, and me being a Drama Queen, I can't help but lament the lack of conflict. Michael and Stephan barely have disagreements, especially after they get together. Stephan is a bit passive, so he'd be hard to argue with, but most couples have some disagreements after a few months. The sex is good though. Nothing about the Netherlands seems to annoy Michael either. I could probably give you a quick 20 point list of stuff that annoyed my husband about living in Holland without breaking a sweat; a list topped by the lack of ESPN, tiny refrigerators, the weather and the annoying habit of many Dutch people to hold him personally responsible for everything they don't like about U.S. foreign policies. On the other hand, I appreciate the lack of emphasis on the legal pot, the red light district and tall, rude Dutch people.
And now the nitpicking: there are some decidedly unDutch names used for Dutch people (Franz = German, Allene... would you call your daughter 'Alone'? Seems a bit morbid, like you're setting her up for a lot of failed relationships) and someone should have spellchecked the actual Dutch in this book. It's 'Antiek', not 'Antik', 'Nieuwendijk', not 'Newendyke' and 'Oud Loosdrecht', not 'Aud Loostrecht'. You're welcome. And why you would put up a visitor in Oud Loosdrecht while working in Vianen is a mystery to me. Sure, it's beyond pretty, but to have to deal with the traffic around Utrecht twice a day would be pure hell. Find something nice in Culemborg or IJsselstein.