REVIEW: Sarah M. Anderson’s A BEAUMONT CHRISTMAS WEDDING, Or Flirting and Forgiveness

Beaumont_Christmas_WeddingSarah M. Anderson wrote two wonderful category romances, the first two in the series “Lawyers In Love,” A Man Of Distinction and A Man of Privilege. Miss Bates is not a lawyer as heroine, or hero fan, not even Julie James charms her. Anderson, however, did not exactly charm, but convince her with terrific characterization and believable conflict. Anderson didn’t pander to Native American or cowboy stereotypes, nor glamorize the lawyer-corporate world. She centred her characters in issues of identity and confronted them with ethical dilemmas about self-interest and “doing the right thing.” With so much goodness preceding Miss B’s reading of Sarah M. Anderson’s latest category romance, A Beaumont Christmas Wedding, Miss B. was surprised at how … well … flummoxed some of the novel left her. 

It had a few points against it going in: third in a Denver-set wealthy-family saga, truth be told, Miss Bates is no fan of the “rich-family saga,” too much Dynasty in her youth. The hero, Matthew Beaumont, is chief marketing officer for Percheron Drafts Beer, the family business of a family that already has too much money and expends most of its energy on outlandish shenanigans. Just the word “marketing” is enough to put Miss B. off: but Matthew is also the “good son” who puts out fires of notoriety and scandal. He’s squeaky-clean and successful, nothing goes wrong on his watch; he’s in PR charge of his brother’s, Phillip’s, wedding to Jo Spears. Into Matthew’s well-orchestrated Christmas Eve wedding fairy tale walks heroine, Whitney Maddox, aka Whitney Wildz, former child star and disorderly teen of the scandal sheets, and Jo’s maid of honour. The chip on Matthew’s shoulder grows into a log … Continue reading

REVIEW: Donna Alward’s HER RANCHER RESCUER, Or Knight In A Stetson

Her Rancher RescuerMiss Bates anticipates, welcomes, and relishes a Donna Alward category romance.  Alward has given us some great romance fiction: Honeymoon With the Rancher, How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart, and The Rebel Rancher are among Miss Bates’s favourites.  (Indeed, How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart may be one of her favourite categories, akin to Sarah Mayberry’s She’s Got It Bad.)  Clean air, horses, complex characters, thorny, believable issues, deeply-felt love, desire, need, and burgeoning friendship between hero and heroine are a winning combination.  Thus, Miss Bates was eager to read Her Rancher Rescuer.  Miss Bates loves how Alward takes her characters, especially her heroes, and twists them up and spins them every which way in the name of love and the heroine.  She loves how her heroines are the stronger emotionally, grow to be self-assured and decisive, yet never lose their soft touch, or tenderness.  Though Her Rancher Rescuer did not grab Miss Bates immediately and there are reasons for that, it grew on her.  She liked it  … a lot.  It didn’t reduce her to a sniveling, Kleenex-sodden mess, as did How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart, but the heartstrings were pulled taut. Continue reading

REVIEW: Molly O’Keefe’s WILD CHILD, Will It “Make Your Heart Sing”?

Wild ChildIn The Crucible (1953), Arthur Miller’s “wild child,” Abigail Williams, says to her tormented, married lover, John Proctor,  “A wild thing may say wild things.  But not so wild, I think … I have seen you … burning in your loneliness.”  In 1966, The Troggs sang, “Wild thing, you make my heart sing … Wild thing, I think I love you.”  In those two most unlike and unconnected quotations, Miss Bates stands before Molly O’Keefe’s Wild Child with a conflicted response/recommendation/critique.  See?  Conflicted.  Because Wild Child is very well written, with figurative language that zings for reader attention, honest, raw dialogue, and love scenes that are sexy and shaming.  If this is to your taste, Wild Child may be a compelling ride of a read; it is tightly written and character-driven and will remind you of Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation.  To Miss Bates, it remains a novel she struggled with.  It is, picking our signals from Miller and The Troggs, about the consequences of a life lived on the edge, loneliness, and love.  Maybe the exercise of writing about it will help Miss B. reach a balanced, steady view? 

“Wild child” free-spirit heroine Monica Appleby meets golden-good-boy hero Jackson Davies … except she’s not “wild” any more and “wild” is all he wants to be.  On the basis of this premise, O’Keefe writes another signature romance novel where bad girl re-makes herself into a cleaner, stronger, better version and good boy takes a walk on the wild side.  At cross purposes in their lives’ paths, at odds with themselves, these two figures, who are not ready for love or commitment, fall in love … most unconvincingly.  Miss Bates loved O’Keefe’s writing, highlighted many bits and pieces of its skill and smoothness, but the romance, the love these two feel and want by the end, Miss B. just can’t see it, can’t see their future, their happiness, or their life together.  This was one of several problematic elements in O’Keefe’s romance narrative.   Read on for more of Miss Bates’ thoughts on O’Keefe’s latest