MINI-REVIEW: Ruthie Knox’s ROMAN HOLIDAY: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURE With HEA and Epilogue, Or The Book Is Too Much With Us

Roman_HolidayMiss Bates embarked on her reading of Ruthie Knox’s “two-book bundle” of a previously serialized novel with trepidation. Though there was much she liked about hero Roman Díaz and heroine Ashley Bowman’s story, because there is much she’s always liked about Knox’s narratives, her fears, which lay in the words “two-book” and “serialized,” were realized. Don’t misunderstand, since Knox’s début, Ride With Me, her stories have consistently been worth reading and thinking about. It is no different for Roman Holiday: the same focus on  characterization, considered psychology, snappy dialogue, and good, good writing overall. Moreover, what Knox has been trying to accomplish with the Camelot series and now its offshoot, Roman Holiday, is most interesting. It is, when done well, something that the romance genre excels at: the creation of a roman-fleuve, a novel “stream, or cycle,” literally translated “river,” that harkens to the 19th century and, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica definition, is “a series of novels, each one complete in itself, that deals with one central character, an era of national life, or successive generations of a family.” The romance series never sounded so good! 😉 In Roman Holiday, Knox serialized a novel, as well as creating one more volume in her Camelot world, albeit a further afield one. She linked it to a country, a history of both race relations and the American thorn, Cuba, a community of friends and family, a quest-journey, and a coming-of-age narrative. Biting off more than she can chew? Definitely, but she had the scope and temerity to attempt and more power to her: the level of her success, however, is up to the individual reader. Be warned that here Miss Bates writes only a loose response to Roman Holiday; if you’re looking for a full-fledged summary and review … sorry. The length of the novel served as anti-dote to the length of the review, by Miss Bates’ standards anyway. Continue reading, if you’re so inclined

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