BWW Reviews: Love Rediscovered In Two Very Different Novellas
Okay, Okay. I've been a bit lax lately with my blog postings, I know. Work, my own writer's deadlines and family drama got the best of me. But I'm back and with lots to share, so I'll try to catch you all up with some of the great stuff I've been reading in the next few weeks.
First up are two novellas, both dealing with love rediscovered in very different ways: Ruthie Knox's Making It Last and Kimberly Kincaid's Outside The Lines.
Making It Last, Ruthie Knox
Ruthie Knox must have a surveillance camera in my house. Maybe more than one. Because her portrayal of Amber and Tony's ten-year marriage, replete with needy kids, an overworked husband and a wife who feels she's lost her own identity, is eerily similar to mine. And, I suspect, to many others. Which is why this novella will resonate so loudly with so many readers.
Knox introduced Amber and Tony in the first of her Camelot series, How To Misbehave. (But rest assured you don't have to have read that one to appreciate Making It Last. Although I highly recommend it.) Now it's ten years and three kids later, and happily ever after's not so happy after all.
The story opens with a puking child in an airport at the end of what Amber had hoped would be a fantasy tropical vacation. Instead she got the same old same old: squabbling kids, a disappearing husband and no privacy to even wallow in her own self pity. Not a terribly romantic start, and a bold move for Knox. And that's what this novella is, from beginning to end. Bold. Knox tackles the problems long-time marrieds face, and takes the reader on a journey from laughter to tears and back again.
Take this passge, when Amber's ruminating on the change in her relationship with Tony:
She had to admit, she'd kind of gone off cocks the last few years. Sharing a house with four of them would do that to a girl. Back when she met Tony, she'd been so inexperienced that his cock had seemed like this miraculous thing, but lately she just wanted every penis in the house put away. She didn't want to hear about them, look at them, think about them. Didn't want to know when they were stiff or itchy or getting slammed in drawers.
I mean, it's funny, right? But at the same time heart-tuggingly sad. And so, so true for so many married couples who've lost that spark in the hustle and bustle of every day life.
Tony's no dope. He sees the change in his wife, and he's scared. So he arranges for her to stay on what was supposed to be their island paradise a few extra days. Alone. And then he's even more scared. Scared she won't come back to him. So he hops a plane back to her, and this time he's not leaving until they've figured out what's ailing their marriage.
It's no surprise that there's a happy ending for these two. After all, it is a romance. But there's no easy fix. Sure, things are better. But Amber still needs to learn how to communicate her feelings, instead of bottling up her resentment. And Tony still needs to work on being there more for his family. And the kids are still - well, kids. The end result is a realistic, thoughtful and moving tale of a husband and wife proving that, although happily ever after doesn't come easily, it's something worth fighting for.
Outside The Lines, Kimberly Kincaid
The hero and heroine in Kincaid's Outside The Lines are getting a second shot at love, too, but in a much different, lighter, but no less satisfying novella. Blake's an Ivy-League-trained ER doc whose life revolves around the hopsital until Jules, the rough-and-tumble diner manager who broke off their engagement eight years ago - in a Dear Blake letter, no less - comes into the ER with a work injury.
Blake wants answers, but Jules isn't about to give them easily, and she takes off as fast as her injured self will let her. But she and Blake are thrown together again when the diner wins the catering contract for the hopsital's annual charity event, a carnival to benefit cystic fibrosis. It's the disease that claimed the life of Blake's brother and propelled him into medicine, so Blake's volunteered to be the hospital liason.
Forced to work together to make the event a success, the spark that flared between them eight years ago flames again. But the problems that existed then haven't gone away either, and one giant secret - the reason for Jules' departure eight years ago - looms large and threatens any chance they might have at reclaiming their relationship.
Both characters are engaging and sympathetic, Blake with his commitment to helping others and his ability to see and appreciate Jules for who she is and Jules with her work ethic and determination to rise above her humble upbringing. As in the prior two novellas in Kincaid's Lines series (Love On The Line, Drawing The Line), the sex scenes are absolutely smoking hot, with one particular (sadly interrupted) sequence in the hospital that had me fanning myself.
Outside The Lines is like a lite bite compared to the weightiness of Knox's Making It Last. But sometimes a lite bite is exactly what's needed to take away the hunger pangs, and Outside The Lines fills that need perfectly.