GLUTTON FOR PLEASURE by Alisha Rai

GluttonforPleasure

One for the greedy here: Alisha Rai’s deliciously fun Glutton For Pleasure features not only a relatable, modern heroine in Devi Malik, but an awful lot of stomach-rumble-inducing descriptions of the delicious Indian food she prepares in her job as chef at the family restaurant. You’ll probably need an actual palate cleanser after delving into Rai’s well-written, sexy book – the first in her ‘Pleasure’ series. Curvy career woman Devi hasn’t really had time (or the mental energy) to delve into another relationship, preferring to focus on her fantasies and her work. That is until a real-life fantasy scenario presents itself in the form of her crush, smoking hot businessman Jace. He’s a regular at the restaurant, and when he starts showing interest in her, with some encouragement from her sister, Devi decides to grab the… let’s say bull by the horns. However, it turns out that Jace is a package deal – he has a pact of sorts with his brother Marcus, which involves threesomes with willing women. Oh, and they’re identical twins. Identically hard-bodied, super-sexy twins. Devi is down. While the subject-matter of this one could have been cringe-worthy at best and downright weird at worst, Alisha Rai manages to navigate the scenario of getting into a sex-fuelled experimental relationship with identical twins with admirable aplomb. Devi is a compelling character with which women can easily identify, and I loved that the men believably celebrate her soft, full figure. Devi’s reservations, and more importantly, her willingness to give over to her desires without feeling ashamed, make for a refreshing read. As, indeed, does the fact that the book features a protagonist of South Asian descent. I guess I had to sometimes prevent my mind from enquiring whether Jace and Marcus’ preference for, um, sharing might edge into some rather intriguing psychological territory in terms of their feelings for one another as brothers – the motivation for which is at least addressed to some extent. But at the end of the day, this isn’t meant to be an in-depth psychological study. It’s a sexy romp by a writer whose work I shall certainly seek out again. Tasty.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glutton-Pleasure-Alisha-Rai-ebook/dp/B00LETVCH6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437244753&sr=8-1&keywords=glutton+for+pleasure

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             4/5

For the Love of Feminism!              4/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                3.5/5

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BOOK REVIEW X 3: FRENCHED/MELANIE HARLOW, FOREPLAY/SOPHIE JORDAN, WALLBANGER/ALICE CLAYTON

Having recently returned from a pretty epic honeymoon to Miami, Key West and New Orleans, I’m suffering sandy-beach withdrawal symptoms and blazing-sun deprivation. Waaaaah!! Send help. However, I did at least get to power through a good few reads while sipping cocktails on the lounger, leaving my palate well and truly cleansed. So here’s three-for-the-price-of-one review, and each of these a super-tasty treat. Do yourself a favour, book yourself a holiday and dive in! Or at least read these and escape into a book. Just as good, eh? Meh. But seriously, read ’em.

Frenched

FRENCHED by Melanie Harlow

Delicious escapist fare from Ms Harlow, in which our heroine Mia escapes from the disaster of her ruined wedding and takes the damn honeymoon to Paris anyway. There she meets sexily dishevelled Franco-American bartender Lucas (who immediately called to mind the gorgeous, criminally underused Liam from Nashville, even though the actor who plays him, Michiel Huisman, is Dutch, but still… hmm I digress), and everything that you think might happen does. But in a well-executed, fun, very sexy way, and, like, in Paris. The characters are fun to be around, they have a realistic background hum of ‘what happens after this trip ends’, but not in a way that drags the story down. It’s great. Enjoy.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frenched-Mia-Lucas-Melanie-Harlow-ebook/dp/B00J1UOR68/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429252870&sr=1-1&keywords=frenched+melanie+harlow

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             4/5

For the Love of Feminism!             3.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                4/5

Foreplay

FOREPLAY by Sophie Jordan

Taking it sensual with a story of not seeing what’s right in front of your eyes. Clever, sweet girl Pepper has followed her high school crush all the way to university, and now he’s finally single, she’s a little nervous about knowing how to put the moves on him. So, reluctantly taking the advice of her friends, she finds a buddy with benefits to learn the ropes. That won’t lead to anything complicated, right? Ms Jordan handles the sexy-with-no-sex tension excellently, and the emotional entanglements with our brooding anti-hero Reece (another bartender! Clearly a sexy profession…) are well executed. Another tasty, non-insulting-to-intelligence romantic read!

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foreplay-Ivy-Chronicles-Sophie-Jordan-ebook/dp/B00BATNQDS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429253169&sr=1-1&keywords=foreplay+sophie+jordan

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             3.5/5

For the Love of Feminism!             3.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                 4/5

Wallbanger

WALLBANGER by Alice Clayton

Despite the cover image (at least on my Kindle edition) with a be-suited man pressing up against a woman in a ballerina-esque dress, this isn’t some Fifty Shades power struggle, but a fun, funny, very sexy romantic-comedy featuring noisy neighbours, tempting tension, and a cute little kitty. (Not that kind. OK, yeah, that kind as well). Caroline’s apartment shares a wall with loud lady-pleaser Simon (super English-sounding names to me, but this is set in San Francisco), and she’s not happy about it, particularly as she seems to have misplaced her ability to orgasm (hah!). But sparks fly as their paths cross, and they become friends, and we all wait and wait for them to become lovers. Wallbanger entertaining as hell, induces a chuckle and is sexy to boot. Nice, Ms Clayton, niiiice.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wallbanger-Cocktail-Book-Alice-Clayton-ebook/dp/B00BEH3B0Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429253195&sr=1-1&keywords=wallbanger+alice+clayton

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             4/5

For the Love of Feminism!              4/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                4/5

Book Review: Archer’s Voice By Mia Sheridan

ArchersVoice

Now, I have to confess, I’m relatively ignorant and generally dismissive of horoscopes. So despite the cover telling us that this is a ‘Sign of Love’ novel, and the whole Archer-archer-Sagittarius thing that I was probably meant to get, that element of Archer’s Voice sadly will probably have passed me by. However, there is still much to intrigue about Mia Sheridan’s warm, romantic novel.

In particular, the hero of the piece – Archer Hale is hot. A broody-yet-sexy recluse with a tragic past? How can you go wrong? Most interestingly, Archer is mute, a characteristic that I can’t say I’ve come across in a romantic hero thus far, and one that helped to draw me in to his character. I got less of a real sense of our heroine, Bree, but she too has her own sad past, from which she’s run away to move to the idyllic town of Pelion. Sheridan really captures small-town, lakeside feel nicely, and it felt like one step away from a Nicholas Sparks-based movie at times – which for me is no bad thing. Who doesn’t like scenes bathed in warm light while pretty people emote? Who!?

The occasionally alternating character point-of view was utilised fairly well, and I especially liked how the author handled Bree and Archer signing with one another – again it added an original slant to some well-worn ideas. Their romance develops well in the story, tentatively and with good tension, though I felt like perhaps the intensity of it unfolding could have been ratcheted up just a little more. Who doesn’t like intensity? Who!?

I also really appreciated that Sheridan took the time to investigate how getting into an intense relationship might affect Bree and Archer, especially as someone who’s been a recluse. His feelings of insecurity and worries for future were all believable and pretty well handled.

However… Sigh. The subtleties and nuances for me were all rather undone in the final portion of the story, which kind of descended into rushed convenience and 1-D baddies. And I’m not talking Harry and Zayn wearing Scream masks, though I’m sure that fan-fic exists. Sadly, for me, the shenanigans at the end of the story stretched credulity, and tied everything into a rather lame bow. A shame, as there is a lot to enjoy in Archer’s Voice. Give it a shot and see for yourself, p’raps!

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Archers-Voice-Mia-Sheridan-ebook/dp/B00I29VGMC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1423084241

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             3/5

For the Love of Feminism!           2.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                2.5/5

Book Review: Still Life With Strings By L.H. Cosway

StillLive

L.H. Cosway’s Still Life With Strings begins with promising originality. Set in Dublin (already unusual in this genre) we meet Jade, a street performer (she’s one of those ‘living statues’ – is it just me or should people not reaaally expect money for standing still in body paint? Anyhoo…). She also works at the nearby classical music venue, in the bar. One night, Jade has a sudden, sexual encounter with a man who’s watching her street act – a man who then, perhaps inevitably, turns out to be a dashing violinist newly arrived to replace a musician in the orchestra at her workplace. This is Shane; handsome, erudite, eager and damaged, he makes no secret of his on-going attraction to Jade, but they decide to be friends – and then of course friendship turns into friends-with-benefits, which then turns messy and emotional…

This journey is well handled and there is palpable tension between Jade and Shane as she attempts to keep him at arm’s length for fear of triggering her alcoholism. Jade has a pleasing world-weariness that is born of her raising her younger siblings after her mother has died, and Cosway also paints an evocative picture of her life on the ‘wrong’ side of town.

Still Life With Strings seems set for an unique take on the recent trends in contemporary romance, and the first two-thirds of the story really do draw you in to Jade and Shane’s burgeoning connection. Unfortunately, however, like a relationship that gradually shows itself to be something you hoped it wouldn’t, the book begins to sink into over-the-top revelations and unnecessary drama. As the characters’ connections began to be over-played, I started to feel less and less compelled by their relationship, which is a shame.

With the exception of some slightly irritating asides direct to the reader, Cosway’s narrative is certainly well told and really does bring you into Jade’s world. It’s just unfortunate that the romance itself fizzled under the burden of injections of drama that I felt weren’t really necessary. These characters were compelling enough on their own – the final part of the narrative could perhaps have been more still, with fewer strings attached. (Oof).

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Life-Strings-L-H-Cosway-ebook/dp/B00J72UJ76/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415173581&sr=8-1&keywords=still+life+with+strings

Cringe Factor                                   2/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             3/5

For the Love of Feminism!           4/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                2.5/5

Book Review: Night Owl By M. Pierce

NightOwl

That ubiquitous arbiter of internet fact, Wikipedia, describes metafiction as “a literary device used to self-consciously and systematically draw attention to a work’s status as an artifact”. M. Pierce’s Night Owl doesn’t necessarily read like a metafictitious work – until you are introduced to the fact that Matt, one of the main characters in the story, writes hugely successful novels as one M. Pierce… Ooh. Cheeky. An intriguing premise, and the story itself is just as intriguing and original within this genre; Matt, as ‘Night.Owl’ is engaged in an anonymous writing partnership with a woman known as ‘Little.Bird’, conducting their back-and-forth narrative over the web. But things swiftly take a non-literary turn when their chat turns flirtatious – and then downright sexual.

The relative anonymity of the internet allows Matt to almost convince himself that what they’re doing is harmless, despite the fact he has a girlfriend who’s off travelling. But as he seeks, compulsively, to draw his and ‘Little.Bird’s worlds together, things get heated to say the least. Matt has an obsession with privacy – indeed, with anonymity – that is reflected in his mysterious, JD Salinger-esque reclusiveness despite his literary success. But it becomes a conflict when he meets ‘Little.Bird’ – aka Hannah.

Hannah is a voluptuous, confident woman in her early twenties, who’s just shot of a useless boyfriend and moving grudgingly back home to her family until she can get her life together. The narrative of Night Owl alternates between Matt and Hannah’s point of view, and both characters are compelling and well-drawn, somewhat ironically never feeling staged or forced despite the tease that ‘M. Pierce’ has written what we are reading.

The chemistry between Matt and Hannah is equally compelling, sexy and with just the right amount of tension. But I still long for a deeper exploration of why women in erotic fiction or romantic/erotic fiction are so often described as enjoying humiliation in a sexual context, given the feminist complexities it throws up. In Night Owl, at least the fact of this irony – that an otherwise forthright, non-submissive woman enjoys being essentially dominated and borderline-humiliated sexually – is acknowledged by Hannah, if not fully explored as an issue, and she recognises it as part of their dynamic. And, to be fair, the sexy scenes are pretty sexy…

But in many other respects, Night Owl does not stick slavishly to convention. As Matt’s deceptions begin to tangle with his and Hannah’s increasing feelings for one another, “the writer” handles Matt’s descent – and apparent relapse – into mental instability very well, and Hannah’s devastation and hesitant attempts to help are also very well handled. We’re left with an intriguing tease as the story ends, one that throws up all sorts of questions about where this planned trilogy is going next. I’m not often compelled to read on in a series, but M. Pierce has managed to pique my interest, that’s for certain. Well worth a read!

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Owl-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00HY070CU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-2&qid=1410330322

Cringe Factor                                   1.5/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             4/5

For the Love of Feminism!           2.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                4/5

Book Review: The Gravity Between Us By Kristen Zimmer

gravitybetweenus

Now, being the John-Hughes-movie-loving romantic that I am, I’m all about a good friends-to-lovers story, and that is what The Gravity Between Us is. Well, it’s a friends-to-lovers story, in any case… Up-and-coming movie starlet Kendall and talented musician Payton have been friends since they were kids, but now Payton is in her first year of college and Kendall is being cast in blockbusters and nominated for awards and such. On a visit home to New Jersey, Payton rather abruptly comes out to Kendall, and subsequently comes to realise she has feelings for her friend. And as a result, despite having thought herself straight, Kendall begins to realise she too has feelings for Payton.

Aaaand – repeat.

That is pretty much the recurring theme of this book. Zimmer tells the story in alternating point-of-view between Kendall and Payton, but unfortunately, because of the similarity in their feelings for one another (I love her, but she can’t know), and the general lack of distinction in their characters, I often found myself struggling to remember whose POV we were in at any point in the story. Their internal struggles with their newfound emotions were, for me, lacking in nuance, and were stretched out for over half the book. This wouldn’t be an issue necessarily, but there was also a lack of passion, of desperation, of really wanting these characters to get it together. Even when they finally do express their wants and desires, it’s about as passionate as a snail crawling across a muddy flowerbed.

While Zimmer’s writing is assured, the content feels clichéd, especially the explorations of young Hollywood – but even those elements could probably have been pushed a little more. Unfortunately, I felt that The Gravity Between Us just plodded inexorably towards a predictable conclusion, with none of the enjoyment of knowing where a story is going but loving the ride. I wanted to feel the gravity of this one, and unfortunately I could just have easily have floated away from it. Ouch.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gravity-Between-Us-Kristen-Zimmer/dp/190949013X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404715938&sr=1-1&keywords=the+gravity+between+us

Cringe Factor                                   4/5

Is it Hot in Here?                            0.5/5

For the Love of Feminism!          2.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness               2/5

Book Review: Making Faces By Amy Harmon

makingfaces

Now, not to seem all cynical again (ahem), but a goodly proportion of New Adult contemporary romances can be high on angst and shagging, and a little low on emotional content and subtlety. So when I embark upon reading one, I’m usually primed to expect romantic hand-wringing and predicable levels of physical contact. However, seek thou alternative reading material if that is what you’re looking for from Amy Harmon’s relatively chaste but certainly absorbing Making Faces.

The story is one thematically reminiscent of a nineties teen movie, or a Barbra Streisand vanity project, or indeed that old classic Beauty and the (uhh uhh) Beast. (Sorry, I always hear the Disney song when I think of that title). But Making Faces has something of a twist. It’s Beauty and the Beast that flips into Beast and the Beauty. Either way, the message – albeit a rather cliché one – is that it’s what’s inside that really counts. Fern Taylor has been in love with Greek God-like high school wrestling star Ambrose Young for as long as she can remember, but has to make do with writing and reading her romance novels seeing as he doesn’t know she exists. A tiny, gawky redhead with glasses and braces, she instead spends time hanging with her cousin and best friend Bailey, who is wheelchair bound due to a degenerative muscle disease. But when the Two Towers are hit, Ambrose feels honour-bound to enlist, taking his buddies with him. Unfortunately, they all perish when an IED explodes, leaving Ambrose the only survivor, horribly scarred (though only on one side of his face, of course). Fern, having grown up and got rid of the glasses and braces, is now something of a cutie. (As the aforementioned teen movies have shown us, this is all that is required to transform the optically-challenged from ugly to purdy…) Scarred Ambrose and newly-pretty Fern begin to reconnect, and soon romance sweetly blossoms.

However, trite as it may sound on paper, particularly with potential added heart-string tugging due to the 9/11 catalyst, Harmon does manage to bring some genuine emotional involvement, most especially in the form of the character of Bailey. Even though he’s the classic quippy side-kick, even though he’s the character with a disability that everyone can learn from, even though the aforementioned cynic in me could kind of see what was in store for his character – when the moment came it was unexpected, gut-wrenching and edge-of-the-seat tense. I only wish that the central relationship between Fern and Ambrose was just a little more deeply explored – and perhaps I do even mean with a bit more physical contact. But I think it’s more that although Fern changes physically, she has nowhere really to go as a character, and as such she’s a little one-dimensional. Similarly, Ambrose’s war wounds are deep but I never really felt for him in the same way I did for Bailey. Fern and Ambrose together are sweet but their relationship plays out predictably and maybe a touch too safely.

And yet in spite of all this, I found Making Faces a welcome change and a well-written, engrossing read, and a special mention ought to be made for the fact that Harmon has quite successfully written a third-person narrative that jumps between characters’ thoughts and feelings without feeling disjointed. But for a story that suggested the surface isn’t all that matters, I just wished it had delved a tiny tad deeper.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Faces-Amy-Harmon/dp/1492976423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402767921&sr=1-1&keywords=making+faces+amy+harmon

Cringe Factor                                   3/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             0.5/5

For the Love of Feminism!             2/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                  3/5

Book Review: Where I End and You Begin By Andra Brynn

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If you’re one of those annoying people (like me, cough cough) who like to try and get one step ahead of the M-Night-Shyamalan-twisty-turny storytellers of the world, then Andra Brynn’s intriguing Where I End and You Begin is armed and ready to subvert your expectations to the very end. As we begin, Bianca, our narrator in this tale, tells us in no uncertain terms: “So. This is a ghost story.” And Brynn plays with the themes of ghosts, mortality and the liminal state in a clever and absorbing way throughout her story, returning to them over and again with a growing sense of their impact on the wider story.

Where I End and You Begin is full of portent, darkness and mystery, in a manner not often seen in New Adult contemporary romance. Indeed perhaps this is less a ‘romance’ per se, and more an exploration of a character, Bianca, who is caught in a spiral of depression, self-loathing and, resultantly, borderline alcoholism. She is aware of her problems and wants to get her life together, but when a particularly unpleasant experience forces a wake-up call, she develops a hesitant friendship with Daniel, a man who is experiencing his own kind of crisis. He feels compelled to help Bianca, but when his secret is revealed, it provides one of the most unique & genuinely interesting obstacles to a pair being together in an NA romance I’ve come across in a long time. The more philosophical – dare I say it, spiritual – ideas raised in the story I would perhaps even like to have seen taken further.

The story is also ripe with metaphor in the interesting pastime that Bianca’s friends – and eventually she and Daniel – adopt of exploring abandoned, decaying buildings. These structures are empty, yet full of secrets, unstable but with hidden strength. Unpredictable. Some of the sequences of the characters’ explorations of these buildings perhaps at first seem a little directionless or unnecessary, but as the story reaches its conclusion, the fragility of these spaces and their parallels with Bianca’s situation – and with the fragility of life itself – is very cleverly brought forth. Brynn’s literary style of writing is assured and compelling, though it is perhaps something of a risk drawing a character as potentially bleak and dark as Bianca, and having the reader view life through her eyes.

Although Bianca and Daniel’s relationship is one built on intriguing foundations, the focus of the story is not really on the pull between them, or their romantic or sexual relationship, and as such this story may not be one for those seeking an out-and-out, heart-rending romance. But I was particularly intrigued by Bianca’s mention of how we move backwards into the future, only looking into the past, with the unknowable stretching out behind our backs. Perhaps the journey she is on really involves forcing herself to turn around and look into the unknown possibilities in front of her.

For those seeking to have their expectations subverted with an unusual New Adult contemporary romance, this more than fits the bill. Where I End and You Begin will stay with you, making you think about the spaces in which we exist, how we perceive ourselves, and if we can change that. About the temptation of fear, of risk, of faith, and how those ideas play into the notion of love. Well worth your time.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-I-End-You-Begin-ebook/dp/B00DKMG7H0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399315087&sr=1-1&keywords=where+i+end+and+you+begin

Cringe Factor                                   1/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             2/5

For the Love of Feminism!           3.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                4/5

Book Review: The Plan By Qwen Salsbury

theplan

So Robert Burns said, in a far more Scots way, that ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ (confession – thought it was Shakespeare til I looked it up. I’m a dumb-dumb). But in Qwen Salsbury’s hugely enjoyable novel, protagonist Emma Baker is no mouse, but she definitely has her eye on a man, and her plans to get him to notice her do not, of course, quite follow the path she expects.

Her boss, the wonderfully named Alaric Canon, is known for going through assistants like a sexy, alpha-male version of that fantastic fictitious sit-com journalist, and my childhood idol, Murphy Brown. (If you didn’t watch it, then that’s a random ref. Oh well. Find a box set.) Nobody seems to last more than a day under his strict demands, until Emma finds herself assigned the task – and going on a business trip with Mr Canon to boot. She’s been a keen observer or him, and his perfectly sculpted ass, and so is ready to do what needs to be done to reap the professional rewards that surviving the stint as his assistant will reward. Yes, what you think might happen does – but in a deliciously tense and compellingly sexy manner that had me keen to devour this Palate Cleanser in as few sittings as possible.

Salsbury tells the story through Emma’s eyes in a terse, self-deprecatingly funny journal-esque style, and our protagonist has a succinct, unique and evocative way with words, with punch lines that pay off fantastically. (The pineapple died in vain line is a killer – you’ll see). Emma is juggling law school at night with her number crunching job, and in a manner that perhaps many women do, finds herself changing her demeanour, her clothes, her behaviour, in order to appease the demands of Mr Canon. She holds back ideas and feelings and berates herself for it – but, when she finally snaps, she becomes more assertive than she could have imagined, and it’s a sexy thrill to experience as the story unfolds. The flip in their power dynamic is really nice to see after all the much-celebrated female subjugation of late. However, what Canon of course wants – what he’s always wanted and appreciated – is the real Emma.

If anything, it’s perhaps once the characters fully allow themselves to be honest and some of the tension drains away, that the story becomes a touch less driven and compelling. Occasionally the style of writing becomes a little harder to follow, and maybe Emma and Alaric become too deeply invested in one another too quickly – but these are only minor quibbles in what is a really engaging read. Plan to be entertained by this one.

Ouch. Sorry.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plan-Qwen-Salsbury-ebook/dp/B00ICU2M1A/ref=la_B00IDS8CN8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396786795&sr=1-1

Cringe Factor                                   1/5

Is it Hot in Here?                            4/5

For the Love of Feminism!          3.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                4/5

Book Review: Jane’s Melody By Ryan Winfield

janesmelody

In many ways, Ryan Winfield’s Jane’s Melody is an usual novel in amongst the ‘palate cleanser’s’ featured on this blog. The first clue would be in the writer’s name – no, the book is not written by someone with a cool should-be-a-dude’s-name-but-is-actually-a-chick. He’s a full on, honest to goodness (I believe!) guy, and I was thrilled to find a male writer tackling a romantic story in this manner. Secondly, though, this novel is not what might be considered a traditional New Adult story – although some of the tropes are present (hot, charming young man in his twenties, strong romance, wondering what to do with one’s life) – our central heroine is a woman just turned forty years old. And lastly, rather than going for the first-person narrative often favoured by NA writers, Winfield has chosen a considered, often quite lyrical third-person narrative style. The initial beat of Jane’s Melody is borne out of grief, and this is a seam that runs through the novel in a haunting and emotive fashion. Melody is Jane’s daughter, who has just lost her struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. When Jane encounters a mysterious stranger at her daughter’s graveside, she begins a journey towards healing, heartbreak, and love that has many moments of genuine emotional power. As Jane’s relationship with the unknown twenty-something Caleb unfolds, Winfield manages to avoid the clichés of a cougar and her prey, instead creating realistic insecurities in their relationship that their age-gap would bring about, in a (mostly) subtle manner. The small-island, Washington setting is vividly rendered, as are Caleb’s musical abilities and ambitions, both belying the focus and attention that Winfield dedicated to his story as detailed in his lovely author’s note at the book’s conclusion. The journey of Jane and Caleb tentatively coming together as he begins his work as a live-in gardener, to their burgeoning relationship, to their fateful parting and eventual reconciliation is gently compelling. While the two of them didn’t make me want to scream or sob, there was a sweetness to the depiction of their romance, and I loved the scene when they part and it was Caleb who openly cried. Perhaps due to the subduing nature of the grief Jane is going through – and encounters again later in the story in another important relationship in her life – Jane’s Melody was not, for me, a novel that grabbed the guts and yanked, making you swing dramatically from pillar to post. It was more a meditative story about grief and love that gently plucked the heart strings.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Janes-Melody-Novel-Ryan-Winfield-ebook/dp/B00FHZKQW0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395590259&sr=8-1&keywords=jane%27s+melody

Cringe Factor                                   1/5

Is it Hot in Here?                             2/5

For the Love of Feminism!            4/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                3.5/5

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