The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, September 24, 2015

232 and 265

          I just finished Lisa Ricard Claro's Love Built to Last. To say that I avoid romance novels like the plague is not too much of an exaggeration... and with good reason.

       Romance plots are predictable. There's an overabundance of fluff and froth. Too much tingling and shivering and blood rushing to man-bits and woman-bits. (I know, I know. That's not the right lingo. So sue Sioux.) And there are lots of other types of books I'd rather read--memoir... historical fiction... chick lit... books about polka music--just about anything other than romance novels.

      However, good writing is good writing. It transcends the genre. And Love Built to Last is well-crafted and has a plot that kept me turning the pages. So begrudgingly, I admit it: I read a romance novel and I liked it (to really butcher and paraphrase the old Katie Perry song)

       There's a rescued dog. That earns a gazillion points in my book. There's a few twists and turns. There's some unique plot components (the stuff that goes on with the desk is waaaay clever). I planned on finishing it up last night but ran out of time. However, I made sure I did this afternoon. (I could have either written a crappy draft for the WWWP's to critique, or I could have finished Love Built to Last. I made the right choice, believe me.)

          I loved that Lisa made us wait until the very end before we found out where the title came from. I loved that there were times when Lisa teased us. There were times when the characters found out something (Jack's "message," for example), but she made us wait.

       There's even tears. Two pages made my eyes well up.

             Damn you, Lisa Ricard Claro... You made me read a romance novel, you made me enjoy it, and you made me cry. 



Monday, September 21, 2015

Potatoes Plus Meat... and Even Some Great Gravy

       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...