I like to read. A lot. It's rare that I don't have a book going -- or two or three.
Some writers, when they are in the middle of a book, don't read because they fear being influenced by whoever they are reading at the time. I, on the other hand, generally want
to be influenced. Often when I read, I'm thinking through my own story and my own characters, imagining how they would act in similar circumstances, trying to decide if what works in this book might be something I'd like to use.
That said, rest assured that I am not looking to copy someone else's book. On the contrary, I already have a book and characters in mind. But I am generally open to anything that might further complicate their lives -- and other books are fraught with complications. That's what makes them so enjoyable.
Since Christmas I've read quite a few enjoyable books. I'm not going to mention them all here because I didn't keep a list. But I did keep some of the books. They are in my JUST BEEN READ pile (JBR) and for the mome
nt and for the foreseeable future, they are very definitely keepers.
Here they are in no particular order:
Susan Elizabeth Phillips's latest book, Natural Born Charmer
, is a delight. I wasn't sure about it when I read the first bit as a "preview" in her earlier book. It seemed, well, a little forced. But I have thought that about SEP's inciting incidents before, and I've almost always been grabbed and pulled into the book. Natural Born Charmer
was, I'm happy to report, no exception.
If you've read other SEP books, you've met Dean Robillard, he of the over-sized ego and unstoppable charm, already. But like other SEP characters, there is more to Dean than meets the eye. He has a backstory that would give the tabloids a field day, if only they knew what it was. But Dean isn't letting anyone in. At least not until he meet Blue Bailey, who has a backstory of her own.
Take two wounded yet determined people who have done their best to move beyond their pasts, throw them together and then throw their pasts back in their laps so they have to come to terms with things -- and each other -- and you have a terrific book. I loved Dean and Blue. I loved the
The only thing I didn't love was SEP saying this was absolutely her last Chicago Stars book. C'mon, Susan, there have to be a few more guys waiting on the bench!
Because I enjoyed it so much, I actually went back and re-read Match Me If You Can
, which I had read last year. I liked it then, but I think I liked it even more this time around. Annabelle was fun. Heath was wonderful -- just so sure of himself that I could hardly wait for him to get his comeuppance. I lugged it around Ireland with me, figuring that if I got tired of carrying it, I could leave it for someone else to read. In fact I brought it home with me. It's a keeper
. I'll read it again next year.
Have you read Hester Browne yet? I read her first book The Little Lady Agency
shortly after Christmas. It made me laugh -- and it made me cringe because while Melissa Romney-Jones's family were caricatures, they were caricatures I know very well. And how Melissa copes with them and finds herself (and her talents and her strengths) is a delightful tale.
she continues the story of Melissa and her alter-ego, Honey, in a second book, Little Lady, Big Apple
, you won't find the "resolution" you might be hoping for in her first book. This isn't a romance as much as it is Melissa's journey to self-realization and maturity. While she might start off with a host of insecurities, it isn't long before you realize she's more mature than just about everyone else in her life. And as Melissa grows in confidence, watching her deal with New York, with her career and with the various men in her life will amuse and delight.
A third installment, The Little Lady and the Prince
, is coming this autumn. I can hardly wait.
On the way home from Ireland, I read Jill Mansell's latest book, Thinking of You
, which I bribed Kate into bringing to Dublin for me. Inasmuch as she had a very tightly controlled weight limit for her baggage, not to mention a disgruntled cat when he discovered he wasn't going to be part of that baggage, I feel fortunate indeed that Jill got to come. In hardback no less!
I always enjoy Jill's books -- her wonderful assorted casts of characters, their predicaments, their machinations and the way they always seem to be tripping over each other coincidentally as the good guys get rewarded and the bad guys (well, as bad as Jill Mansell bad guy can be) get exactly what they deserve. Thinking of You was no exception. It was a wonderful fun read. I wish more of her books were available in the US. It seems a shame that I always have to go to England to get them.
I've read a few others as well. But if you're looking for fun books with snappy dialogue, intriguing characters and a little bit of escapism, you can't go wrong with Susan, Hester and Jill.
I'm using them as inspiration for Flynn and Sara. Keep your fingers crossed that it works.