Okay, I am the first to proclaim, "I don't read romance." I love chick lit. I love historical fiction. I love books that defy categorization--they're not horror, but they're mighty creepy (like the novels that Joe Hill crafts). I especially love memoir.
But romance novels? Those small paperbacks with the Fabio guy (shirt unbuttoned) and the woman with the heaving bosom (about to pop her shirt buttons) on the front cover? Those stories where the plot is always the same--just change the era and the color of the woman's hair?
Nope. Can't stand 'em. Don't read 'em. Always pooh-poohing 'em.
But I did say I'd read Lisa Ricard Claro's romance novel Love Built to Last. Lisa's a blogging friend, writes wonderful posts, and for quite a while chronicled her pathway to publishing. Not only did she get this book published, she snagged a three-book deal.
That is way impressive.
So to say I was intrigued is an understatement. Was I going to read Lisa's book and be less-than-thrilled (which is what I assumed was going to happen--the genre itself was going to guarantee it)? Or, was I going to read it and be impressed? (Since I am never ever wrong, this was not even a possibility--ha!)
I have just barely started Love Built to Last. I've only read a third of the book so far... despite planning on reading it for quite a while.
Why the delay in starting it? Unfortunately, this is a book I can't read before bed because as I drift into slumberland, I drool. The book inevitably falls to the floor in a helter-skelter manner. Books that I buy at Half-Price Books... that's okay if they get a whole series of crazily-folded pages or slobber stains pooled here and there. However, this is a book I wanted to stay in pristine shape. So I have to be in an upright position and not bone-tired when I pick it up.
And when I did pick it up, I found the potatoes I figured I would. The little shivers down the spine. The blushed faces. The electricity when one hand first touches another. The fluff, the filler--the stuff that I knew I was going to find.
(However, none of this is overdone. It's subtle. It's slipped in. It's done with a deft hand.)
Okay, not a surprise. That's part of what defines romance. But in this novel I've found meat as well--stuff that truly brings satisfaction to the reader. Lisa Ricard Claro has taken parts of her own life and slipped them in seamlessly, causing me to nod my head knowingly and travel back to that time from my own life.
For example, the Caleb character is watching his son play T-ball. He and his family end up laughing at an outfielder... an outfielder who is more concerned with picking dandelions than catching a fly ball. My husband and I would alternately shake with laughter and shake our heads when our son played T-ball. Da boy would pick his nose. He'd pick his butt. In the middle of an inning, our youngest once ran off the outfield to the bathroom... apparently full of pee-pee... without giving anybody a heads-up. Kicking dust was more crucial than being attentive to the game.
And then there's gravy. Rich, perfectly-seasoned gravy. Well-crafted lines that are proof of the work that went into this novel.
In the first few lines, Claro writes of being reminded of a loss feeling "like an icy second skin." A few pages later, she writes about Maddie wearing a dress that shows off "through a miracle of design... more boobs per square inch than she'd ever possess." And I could continue...
So, will I end up becoming a rabid romance novel reader? Most definitely not. Will I be glad to finish Love Built to Last? Yes, because that means I can savor the next two in the series... and when I finish the last line of Love Built to Last, I can find out what happens with Caleb and Maddie...
How about you? Have you read Love Built to Last? Do you enjoy reading romance novels? Heaving bosoms-avoiding minds want to know...