Kat Latham is a new author to Miss Bates. She read a glowing review of Latham’s novella in her London Legends series, “Unwrapping Her Perfect Match,” and was curious to try one of her books. (Some *day*, Miss B. will link to all these reviews she reads, but that day will not be today … some *day*, Miss B. will keep a record of reviews she reads … ) In any case, she dug into Latham’s fourth rugby-playing heroes novel, Taming The Legend. Miss Bates is strictly a hockey watcher, but thought the rough-and-tumble rugby-world would appeal and it did. Latham’s novel is much more than that: it’s about forgiveness and love, new-found hope and redressing of past wrongs. It’s about being friends and lovers and working together to achieve something worthy and good. It’s also really really funny!
Taming The Legend opens with London Legends star-player Ashley Trenton, 36, holding the World Cup. Ash’s victory is bittersweet: he and his team have reached the apex of rugby achievement, but this is his last game. Ash is retiring and like everyone who dedicates a life to a beloved career, he’s uncertain and scared he’ll not be able to find a purpose as all-consuming as his career. Ash puts it best when he says, “He’d married his career, and he’d never questioned that decision. So what did he do now his career was divorcing him?” The answer comes in the form of Camila Morales and a punch to Ash’s victorious jaw. One glance in the hotel lobby brought Ash back to the girl he loved and left in Barcelona eighteen years ago. Ash’s grin and sexual excitement at seeing her again last a blink … before Camila has him reeling back on his very fine bum. Continue reading
Miss Bates once listened to a CBC radio program called “The Myth of the Secular,” which argued that the demise of religion in the public sphere has not come about as Western philosophical thought assumed. During one of the six episodes, a Muslim theologian presented an alternate view to the West’s traditional notion of faith originating in revelation and followed by practice, the most dramatic example being Paul’s road to Damascus moment. She argued that non-Western notions posit that gesture and practice, the physicality of religious ritual, in other words starting with the body, can lead to and sustain faith, understanding, and thought. Faith follows from practice. (One interesting addendum in support of this argument are testimonies from martial arts’ practitioners for fitness’ sake; they find themselves interested in, even adhering to, the Eastern philosophy in which their exercise routine originates.) Miss Bates, what are you talking about, you’d rightly say … and what does it have to do with Ros Clarke’s An Unsuitable Husband? Miss Bates thinks that in a novel like Clarke’s, indeed in a contemporary marriage-of-convenience, a difficult trope to pull off, (Miss Bates has no sampling here, only speculation) the author argues that going through the motions of being married leads to feelings of love and commitment. Or at least it does when it’s done well … and it’s done well in Clarke’s novel.
(To take this notion once step further, consider a novel like Mayberry’s Satisfaction, a more interesting novel than it’ll be given credit for: a relationship based solely on sexual satisfaction, one whose focus is the sexual satisfaction of the heroine as a matter of fact, leads to love and a desire for commitment.) In An Unsuitable Husband‘s case, marital arts’ practitioners bring about faith in the other and love. Miss Bates, you’ll say, what about An Unsuitable Husband? Should I read it? Yes. It is a romance novel, not without its flaws, but Miss Bates was moved by it. She loved Emile and Theresa and their silly marriage-of-convenience … because, in the end, they were flawed, but loveable. It was a place where love-making and pretense-gestures of marital commitment lead to devotion, fidelity, and love, a good marriage’s triumvirate. Continue reading for more of Miss Bates’ cogitations
Miss Bates reached a point in March’s contemporary, small-town romance novel where she lost perspective, lost objectivity. Since she started Miss Bates Reads Romance, she’s felt an especial obligation to keep an open mind, consider any given romance narrative on merits to which she might not adhere. This to provide a fair and open consideration for whomever might drop by in the hope of being able to make a to-read-or-not-to-read decision. There came a point, however, in reading Miracle Road where only a miracle could salvage it for Miss Bates. Even now, as she pens this post, she recognizes the attraction of this romance for certain readers, in light of its positive and “life-affirming” message, inspirational drift, and competent writing. It still pushed all of Miss Bates’ buttons of what she intensely dislikes about woo-hoo-miracles-do-happen-“touched-by-an-angel” narratives. You’ve been warned, dear reader, what will follow is not necessarily snark, but a Miss Bates without sang-froid, or the balanced perspective that she likes to think she maintains. It flew away on angel wings …