Monday, February 14, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet

First of all, I am declaring this blog a no-shame zone. Having said that, I am not gay, regardless of what the title of this post may lead you to believe. To explain the title, you will notice in my profile that I describe my self as "a closet romantic." Well, I'm owning up to romantic, slightly gooey side, inspired by my Adult Popular Literature (APL) in structor who proudly owns up to reading romance and even erotica. I've made baby steps in the past with my "Vamping the Bookshelf" and my "Daughters of Jane" series, but this post is a no holds-bar exposé. Here goes nothing ... I read romance novels.

Granted I am not usually drawn to the contemporary or historical love stories. I like a back story, usually with a robust mythology, harkening back to my exclusively fantasy period. Most of the time, the straight love story is not enough to hold my attention. I want some action, usually of the political conspiracy/large objects blowing up/sword fighting and if at all possible, a kick-butt heroine. However, in an effort to broaden my reading horizons for my APL class, I decided to read outside of my box and got the first two books of Nora Roberts' The Bride Quartet as well as a true bodice-ripper.

I just finished A Vision in White, the first book in the quartet. The plot focuses on Mackensie "Mac" Ellot, a wedding photographer, and Carter Maguire, a PhD high school English teacher (one of those prestigious academies in Connecticut). Mac is an owning partner in Vows, an almost all-inclusive wedding planning company, with her three best friends: Parker, the brains of the operation, Emma, the florist, and Laurel, the baker/pastry chef. Carter has had a crush on Mac since high school and the romantic journey ensues after a chance meeting when Carter's sister comes to Vows to plan her wedding.

Having never read Nora Roberts before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It follows the basic romantic tale plot: boy meets girl, boy loses girl (this time because of the girl's deep-rooted trust issues), boy gets girl back. The dialog is witty, the characters seem real, and the situation is not that implausibly fairy tale/chick flick romantic. Also, the love scenes are tasteful and there aren't too many of them. I also appreciate she had me going to the dictionary to look up some words, like "stevedore" which is a person who loads and unloads cargo from ships. The issue I had with the book is some overly sentimental metaphors and dialog, but the comes with the territory.

Having said all that, it was predictable to the point that I feel comfortable forecasting the direction of the rest of the series. There were only three single, eligible men introduced in A Vision in White: Carter, Jack Cooke, and Delaney "Del" Brown. Carter has been spoken for, but there were hints as to who the other men would fall for in the end.

There was an interesting scene with Emma and Jack which ended with her yelling at him and storming out, so I will predict that the second book in the quartet, Bed of Roses (remember Emma is the florist), will feature them.

Cover of "Savor the Moment (The Bride Qua...                  Cover via Amazon

The third book in the series, Savor the Moment, will feature Laurel, the baker (clever title Ms. Roberts), and Del based on one interaction between Mac and Laurel. Mac has just apologized for being bitchy and explains that Del helped her in a situation with her mother, Laurel's response: "In the act of getting down a glass, Laurel glanced back. 'Del was there?'" (p. 141). I will admit it isn't much to go on, but just the fact that she mentioned him is significant and besides that he's Parker's brother.

The final book in the quartet, Happy Ever After, will feature Parker with a yet-to-be-named suitor. Parker's book has to come last because she seems to be the strongest, motherly personality and she has to see her friends settled before she can find her ... wait for it ... happily ever after.

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