Posts Tagged Chick-Lit

Wednesday Reflection #19 – The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide by Debby Holt

51yq82nv1sl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Title     The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide

Author     Debby Holt

Genre     Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit

Publisher      Pocket Books

Publication Date      February 1, 2006

Format      Paperback

Setting     England

ISBN     1416502467

Synopsis: With her twin sons’ yearlong pre-college trip to India coming up, Sarah Stagg is finally ready to put up her feet and spend a little quality time with her actor-husband Andrew, star of their local theater. But Andrew has other ideas. He has been having an affair with his new co-star and soon moves out. Now, with the kids gone and the house empty, Sarah is experiencing an existential crisis. She spends her days waiting for her husband to realize his mistake and come home or wondering how she will spend the rest of her life alone if he doesn’t. Her best friend Miriam suggests she spends her time more productively by doing everything to prove she’s enjoying the independence – especially if Andrew is to find her desirable again – and pushes Sarah to join their town’s upcoming play, placing her at the scene of her husband’s crime. Suddenly Sarah finds herself cast as the female lead and the male lead Martin Chamberlain – an already divorcé with a cheating former spouse – becomes her closest confidante and comrade, and real-life savior too. Sarah’s life turns into a whirlwind of misadventures, between starring in the theater, adopting a psycho-dog bent on killing everything in the neighborhood, helping her neighbors spy on their husbands, and being whisked away to Majorca by her best friend where she enjoys a little fling with her college crush with a potential to relocate. The only problem is Sarah’s still too busy wavering between trying to reclaim her husband and finding solutions at an off-shore island to realize true love may be found in the most unexpected of person living closer to home than she realized.

Experience: It’s been a while but I really enjoyed reading this novel. Ever since I took up full-time writing, it has been really difficult for me appreciate works for the sheer pleasure of the entertainment but The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide brought me home. It reminded me why I love reading and writing stories so much – for the sheer joy of living many lives. I could totally put myself in Sarah Stagg’s shoes and it was a pretty nice pair to boogie in.

It wasn’t so much that the characters were deeply explored. In fact, everything that took place was only observed from Sarah’s POV, and she is the type of character for whom the other shoe drops only in the distant future. But this aspect of her personality was so consistently pursued that I have to raise my hat to Holt for her patient custody of not revealing the plot to Sarah too soon. Rather, Sarah’s oblivious observations of her surrounding while keen perception into the characters of those with whom she is detached but taking close one’s for granted, all the while wincing and tiptoeing for things to only get worse, was hilariously adorable.

Moreover, Holt isn’t afraid to introduce a host of funny characters. As writers, we are always told to keep the character count limited to those absolutely necessary. Well, since Sarah is a neighborhood sort of gal, her many wacky neighbors are necessary. It is perhaps one of the reasons why no one’s but Sarah’s character is explored in depth. When you have the main character accidentally molesting priests, her maniac dog chewing up the town gossip’s guinea pig, your closest local pal trying to project her need to cheat onto her husband, and your best friend planning romantic getaways without her husband, it is difficult to dedicate much of the text to anyone but the main character. But on the whole, it worked out fine because they each helped to build up or reinforce Sarah’s own flaws and fitness.

However, there was one character I wish who deserved a little more than Sarah’s self-absorption. Martin was such a swell guy, I couldn’t but feel sorry for him. He was dependable and sweet and all things that would make most girls take him for granted, which is exactly what Sarah does throughout the book. But there were a few moments when his dependability and sweetness came out very masculine and I wish there was more of that. As far as the potential hero goes, I wish he stepped out of the shadows a little more and asserted himself. He was fully capable of it. For the sake of the plot, however, he was much sacrificed.

For the most part, the book shows that Sarah is a character to whom things happen rather than one who makes things happen. It wasn’t only being cheated on, but also all the mishaps that followed that were just a great way of preserving that Sarah Stagg had no control over her life. There was such a Bridget Jones appeal to her that made the reading fluent. Of course, as the story progresses, we see her attempting to take a bit more charge and stand up to – or at least try to stand up to – what is right, but she is essentially a pushover. Thankfully, not forever, which was hinted upon somewhere in the middle to keep the reader’s hope alive.

Recommendation: An excellent chick-lit that deserves to be read if you enjoy rom-com and women reclaiming girl power.

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments

Wednesday Reflections #08 – The Nearly-Weds by Jane Costello

Via: Daily Prompt – Hideout

cvr9781847390882_9781847390882_hr

Title The Nearly-Weds

Author Jane Costello

Genre Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance

Publisher Simon & Schuster UK

Publication Date July 07, 2009

Format Paperback

ISBN 978-1-84739-088-2

Synopsis: After being jilted at the altar by her boyfriend of seven years, Zoe Moore is on the run from her past. Falling back on her experience in early childhood development, she seeks sanctuary across the pond from Liverpool in Boston to become a live-in nanny for a young family of four with the prospect of even an all-expense-paid summer holiday in the Bermuda. Upon landing in the land of dreams, however, she learns that there has been a change in her arrangements and she now will be looking after two children, aged six and three, in Boston with their widowed father, Ryan Miller. Zoe is an instant hit with the children but warming up to daddy is another ballgame altogether. Unfortunately, the father is the heart-stopping gorgeous kind with the bite of a barracuda. As Zoe navigates a life in a new country with the help of a band of new friends (other British nannies in the affluent neighborhood and their myriad of romantic prospects), she has to also deal with checking her hormones whenever Ryan is around even while fending off his attacks on her competence. It is obvious that Ryan is not coping well with the death of his wife and has spent the past two years boozing, womanizing and becoming exhaustingly efficient at his job as VP of Communications. But when sparks fly between them, it isn’t always amid altercations. Still, sex with the boyfriend is strictly a no-no, not only because of the unprofessionalism but also because he is bad news for a woman already trying to fall out of love with her ex-fiancé. Except, her ex-fiancé Jason doesn’t seem to want to lie low either.

Experience: This novel gave me a lot of mixed feelings. First of all, it took me about 03-04 days to get into the mood for the novel and then again 03-04 days to finish reading it. This happened despite the fact that the chapters are very short (mostly ending below 05 pages) and the writing was quick paced. So what was the problem? The style of Costello’s writing.

Usually, a 419-page Chick Lit of British comedy would take me 02-03 days to complete on regular workdays (I’m a meticulous reader, or in other words, slow). But this novel had me rolling my eyes and sighing with a bit of discontent by chapter 05. Don’t get me wrong. Costello made me laugh quite a lot by this time with the witty self-effacing first-person narration from the single POV of Zoe Moore [who doesn’t like a protagonist with a healthy dose of insecurities, right?], but Zoe Moore thinks and talks in similes to the point of exhaustion.

Even though it is my first time reading her work, I could immediately surmise how pop culture savvy Costello is because the aspect blossomed on every page – nay every paragraph – of the book. I thanked my lucky star that I was brought up in the West during my formative years and have been a fan of American television since because otherwise I would have been spending as much time on Google researching to understand the content of the book as reading it [and possibly more than Costello spent while writing it]. E.g. the kids, when challenged to quickly put away their toys, is not merely enthusiastic, they’re “possessed by the spirit of Mr. Sheen”. Even when she is running away from her second home, depressed as hell and sobbing, she carries out her luggage to the taxi as though “dragging the dead body of a large yak”.

But it’s not only Zoe but her mother and new friends who also speak this way. The mother I could understand because maybe Zoe picked up her tendencies from her but when other characters began showing the same speech pattern, I began wondering if it was just a thing with the British characters or was Costello mixing up character appeals. So I was really spending a lot of time sorting out who was talking when. In fact, if we cut out the constant bombardment of similes and metaphors, I think the book would end with about 300 pages. I kid you not.

Fortunately, later in the book, individual character approaches do begin to emerge. For example, the male characters have fewer tendencies to exaggerate their statements and the similes and metaphors are kept mostly out of their dialogues [thank god]. The children show certain unique characteristics and so does Zoe’s dad. But these characters have much fewer dialogues. Yes, even the hero. For most of the book, Ryan is kept in the background of the scenes although fresh on Zoe’s mind. He only picks up in making appearances halfway through the novel, which I found refreshing. Hence, I would shelve the book firmly in the chick lit genre more than contemporary romance.

Actually, far as the plot goes, I thought it was very well planned. The gradual development of Ryan’s character was a required element to help Zoe adjust to her recent relationship trauma. While Zoe had not recovered from the jilting-by-Jason fiasco till the near end of the novel, that she had a healthy six months on the job before sleeping with the boss works out as well as the fact that Ryan’s wife had been dead for more than two years before he can come to terms with the death. Really, all of the characters were very believable and the plot too was very relatable. If Costello could have just skimmed it on the adding-of-the-similes a bit, I would have few bad things to say about it. [To be fair, I plan to read at least one more of her book to see if this was something she incorporated for Zoe’s character or is it really her own personality seeping into her work.]

There is one aspect that I could really commend Costello for, though. It is her keeping Zoe so secretive. For a character who has such natural tendency for humorous overtures, Zoe sure kept it mum throughout her yearlong stay in the USA about her failed wedding. Costello’s ability to keep the topic consistently on Zoe’s mind but never bring it to her lips was a very intelligent addition to the suspense. It certainly kept me wondering what would happen once she finally revealed why she ran away from home. And this also actually adds to another consistent element of Zoe’s characteristics – that she has a tendency to make a run for it when her romantic relationships show a first sign of failing.

Recommendation: Really, it’s a good story. I enjoyed it despite the writing peccadilloes once I adjusted myself to reading through the similes. In fact, my eyes eventually were trained to skip phrases upon contact with words such as “like” and “as”. Still, I would suggest you read it on the tab with Wi-Fi access if you are not Western pop culture savvy.

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Lakeside Rendezvous

Via: Daily Prompt- Glitter

 

wood-sea-forest-lake

Image: Pexels

 

This just wasn’t working. And she certainly could not appreciate her traitorous heart for soaring at the idea that he claimed a right to feel – something – for her. It was not that she simply found it flattering he was pursuing to make her a part of his self-appointed assignment. It was definitely something more, a need to know he felt possessive of her. But that just wouldn’t do. “Where is that insufferable camera of yours,” asked she, affecting indignation.

Matthew smirked. “You didn’t think I’d bring it into the water, did you? You’ve already ruined one of my telelenses. This time, I’ve left it safe and sound by the tree.”

“Your camera lens deserved to be ruined! They would’ve been fine if you weren’t sneaking around the countryside taking pictures of people despite their prohibition.” She knew she was yelling again, but she could not help it. The man sparked a lot of contradictory feelings within her, none of which she could be content with.

Matthew leaned forward, his jaws set stiff. “If you’d kindly remember, I hadn’t yet been prohibited from taking anyone’s pictures when you ruined my lens. And my lens wouldn’t be currently in gadget heaven if you weren’t the type of woman who literally jumps the gun without thinking about the consequences of her actions first.” He straightened again, his smug smile back on his lips. “And as for the prohibition stipulated on me presently, I choose to ignore it because it obviously does not come from the most reasonable character.”

Elaina shook in her spot. Not because she was wet and the cold was starting to set into her bones. No, it was the rage. She did not know why she felt it. His decision to continue photographing her could prompt her indignation, her outrage, maybe even a choice to report him to the authorities – but this – this pure haze of wanting to teach him a lesson and perhaps resort to an act of violence just so that he would go away and leave her alone she could not fathom the origin of. Maybe it was an overreaction, maybe it was being unreasonable as he accused. But she suddenly wanted to be unreasonable and commit to something drastic – anything to prove to herself that he was only a nuisance and nothing more. She turned and began trudging her way to the grassy bank.

“Where are you going?” Matthew called after her and she could hear him following.

“Getting out of the water,” returned Elaina over her shoulders.

“Finally something sensible,” sighed her opponent.

“Oh, yes, very! And then I’m bringing your camera back for a swim.”

“What?” she heard Matthew’s startled reply and began running now that she was out of the water.

Matthew followed close on her heels and before she knew it, he had grabbed the waist of her shirt and she felt her back slammed against his front, her breath leaving her body in a whoosh. “Let go of me!”

She fought hard but was no match for his strength. He struggled but managed to turn her around until she was facing him and he had his arms tightly wrapped around her. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re getting nowhere near my camera. What is wrong with you? Where does all this rage come from?”

“From having my privacy violated!” shouted she, continuing to struggle.

“Stop struggling!”

“And what, let you have it easy?”

“There’s nothing easy about you.” Matthew dropped his voice so that it was deep and husky and oddly intimate. “But I now have you where I want you and I can assure you that I’m not letting you go anytime soon, so I suggest you stop fighting me.”

And Elaina did. She stopped fighting him. The change in him was so abrupt and unexpected that she could do nothing but what he asked. And suddenly, she noticed that her breasts, hips, thighs were all pressed to his length. That her toes barely touched the ground as he had her in his grip and raised against his body. That his mouth was mere inches from hers. That his eyes looked hungry. For the second time since he had chased and caught her, she felt her breath sharply leave her body.

A soft smile touched his lips and warmth lighted his eyes. “There. See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Elaina only stared. He was so beautiful. She had noticed that about him before but now his beauty seemed different. His hair was curled and slightly matted and dripping water. His eyes were dark and intense and rimmed with sinfully long lashes for a man and water from the creek still clung to them, glittering with trapped sunlight. His nose was straight and strong just like she could feel his body to be, pressed against hers. But it was his afternoon stubble that most fascinated her now. It looked prickly but not in a bad way. And before she knew what she was doing, she raised her hand to touch his chin to learn how his beard would feel against her fingertips.

Matthew groaned and Elaina jerked back her hand. “Sorry,” gasped she.

He shook his head and swallowed before replying. “Don’t. Don’t say sorry. Don’t be sorry.” He paused, then added, “Why did you touch me?”

Elaina lowered her eyes. She knew what had compelled her to touch his chin but she was not about to divulge that emotion. “I don’t know,” she lied instead.

She did not think it possible, but one of his arms tightened around her waist further, pressing her body closer to his, all while he raised his other arm to place his hand on her cheek and tip her chin up, forcing her to look back into his eyes. “Don’t you,” asked he, just before he closed the distance between their mouths to kiss her.

This is an end excerpt from Chapter 06 of my novel I’ll Be Truewhich I had posted 05 years ago on this website. If you wish to read what follows, it is available in my post, I’ll Be True (Chapter 07).

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Body Image (04 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Lush

 

 

Jennifer Crusie forever altered the definition of “lush” for me. She used the word 08 times (only two of which was while describing the landscape), in her novel Welcome to Temptation. I still love using the word when trying to describe a healthy foliage but, now, when I see or hear “lush”, I first think of Sophie Dempsey (the heroine of the novel) and second Clea Whipple (a heroine within the novel). It is a word that evoked lust as well as envy and the best part is that it encourages readers to accept that whether you aim to be sexy, are sexy by chance, or are ignorant of your sexiness, there is no one type. Crusie’s use of body image in this book is refreshing and liberating. The novel itself is exhilarating.

112008You can read the synopsis of the novel if you follow the link provided above on the book title, in case you haven’t read it yet. I recommend men, women, romance/chick-lit fans, romance/chick-lit non-readers, to all read it. Like really. Read it.

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts to demonstrate the way Crusie used the word in the book:  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

I’ll Be True (Chapter 26)

Read Chapter 25 before you continue…

It was a beautiful wedding ceremony and the happiness shining on the faces of the bride and groom proved that they were a match made in heaven. But then again, no other couple had ever been cheered for by all of Lainie’s Creek as much as this one – not even the iconic love affair between tragic Lainie Corey, after whose demise the town had been named, and her infamous beau William Brant. But that was a tale of long ago and, thankfully, without any repeat performances. In fact, the only couple other than the just-married Tyler and Ahyoka to draw the eyes of the guests was Elaina and Matthew, who were currently laughing through a lively jig, making a fool of themselves with their disarrayed dance moves.

Brooke felt no envy by their glowing mirth, only relief. She watched Matthew pull Elaina back into his arms and whisper something in her ear. It must have been funny too because Elaina threw back her head in an unladylike guffaw. Brooke had never seen her former best friend so full of cheerful abandon, not even when they were children. Amazing the changes true love could bring in a person. She hoped she too would find someone one day to share such connection with but for now felt content just to watch Elaina finally bask in the affection she deserved.

“Why are you sitting by yourself here, moping?”

Brooke turned to see Hayden drop down onto the folding chair beside hers. “I’m not moping. I’m watching people dance.”

Hayden raised an eyebrow. “Any couple in particular,” he inquired, knowing full well the answer.

Brooke turned away from him, her eyes trained on Elaina and Matthew once more though seeing little of their dance this time. Hayden had always been critical of her, even when she was little more than a child. He always lorded over Elaina and her, impressing the fact that he was older than them and therefore more experienced – as though being older equated to being wiser. Brooke was sure she would have liked to see a lot less of Hayden growing up. If only it hadn’t been for the fact that he was her former best friend’s older brother and whom said former best friend idolized. Of course, it was always Hayden who protested first whenever Elaina wished to accompany her twin brothers on their outings, bringing up their age difference as the main reason, but Brooke had also felt that his unwelcome attitude was especially directed to her.

But they were all now much older, each an adult who came into his or her own. She no longer needed Hayden’s approval. “Tyler and Ahyoka look very happy to be finally married,” she answered, purposely being elusive because she did not feel the need to dignify his question.

“Not the couple I meant and you know it.”

She remained silent. She would not rise to his bait.

“Elaina could never dance to save her life. Matthew seems to be cut with two left feet as well.”

“But they are charming together so it doesn’t matter if they can dance or not,” she automatically defended. Damn it.

“If they are so charming together, why do you look like the baby that got her lollypop stolen?”

He always made it so difficult to ignore him. “What the hell are you talking about, Hayden?”  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

So it’s a new year: Bah! Humbug!

(Also there will be changes to the site in 2017)

scared-firecracker-14507999

Picking up from the title, did I reference that exclamation to the wrong holiday? I don’t think so. I love Christmas. Having spent the greater part of my preteen and adolescence amongst colorful baubles and fairy lights in red, green and white all through December, accentuated by the great American television bonanza surrounding the spirit of giving, Oh Christmas Tree and Santa Claus, it’s hard not to pick up on the excitement. Although the same decorations and entertainments stayed up until New Year Day, I have never actually been lured in by New Year’s Eve revelry. So what is all this hype about?  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

I’ll Be True (Chapter 24)

Read Chapter 23 before you continue…

 

Elaina’s mind tumbled through the tide of enlightenment that washed over her. She had never tried to work through the range of emotions surrounding the event before, though five years was plenty time for private musings. Her thoughts had been consumed by two phases of that watershed moment in her life. There was the horrific replay of Brooke’s confession and the harrowing sense of betrayal that took over later, accompanied by a myriad of emotions. Feelings of pain, confusion, mortification, anger and, worst of all, being second-rate had drowned out any reason for recovery. They had kept her from considering there might be a third component, gluing Brooke’s action to her reactions. Withheld contemplations of the loss she had also experienced though she was aware the loss was lurking in there too. Now, while standing before Brooke, the missing piece clicked into place. Talking to Brooke was what it took.

“What do you mean?” Brooke asked again, even as some new realization shone through her eyes.  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

I’ll Be True (Chapter 17)

Read Chapter 16 before you continue…

Brooke watched as Mathew finally detached himself from Elaina’s form after a long lingering kiss before laughingly leading her back into the fairgrounds, hand-in-hand. She had had her fingers crossed when Elaina had come out in a huff, but trouble in paradise did not even last five minutes before Matthew had cajoled cowgirl back into his arms and then back to the fair. If she did not know she was so awesome, Brooke would have thought the burning sensation in the pit of her stomach was something akin to self-loathing. But as she was fully confident in her awesomeness, it must be an acid imbalance from all the fried food her mother has been exposing her to since she came home. She could not wait to get back to her life in the city and away from this town once again because her return has been anything but the triumph she had anticipated it to be. In fact, it had been quite humiliating.

How was this even possible?  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

3 Comments

I’ll Be True (Chapter 16)

Read Chapter 15 before you continue…

 

Madam Esmeralda truly appeared bewildered as she met Matthew’s gaze. “Hayden?”

Elaina was not fooled. She had visited Madam’s tent every year since she was a little girl with her friends to hear the old woman’s wild predictions. Esmeralda was not even her real name. When she was not moonlighting as a fortune-teller, the population of the county knew this old woman as the eccentric Widow Warren of Triple Axel, the adjacent town to Lainie’s Creek. It was true Widow Warren, née Mary Esme Smith, born and brought up in Lainie’s Creek, now lived in her deceased husband’s family home all by herself in the neighboring town, but she returned numerous times each year to take on her position as the county fair fortune-teller. Without any children of her own, the job afforded her an outlet to be around children and youths in the form of entertainment. She had seen all of Elaina’s friends and siblings grow up over the years and if she remembered Lainie Corey’s romantic misfortunes so clearly, she certainly was not going to forget the current Corey siblings in a hurry.

“Please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending not to know who Hayden is, Mrs. Warren,” retorted Elaina, dropping all pretense to the illusion of the role played by the older lady. “You know very well he is my brother just as I know you are no fortune-teller. Now fess up if he put you up to this.” Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

I’ll Be True (Chapter 15)

Read Chapter 14 before you continue…

Matthew practically jogged his way to meet Elaina. Partly because he wanted to put distance between himself and whatever daggers Brooke was throwing at his back. But also because he could not wait to see Elaina.

Last night was probably one of the best sexual experiences of his life. Elaina had been as open and honest with him in bed as she was with everything else. She had applied the same level of curiosity and sincerity to their love making that he had come to understand as her trademark for all aspects of her life. It had been intense and he was more than pleased to find out how healthy her sexual appetite was.

It was obvious that she was not practiced in the art of love making. But what she lacked in experience, she made up with enthusiasm. She was a quick learner and an adventurous one at that, eager to try her own things once she picked up on a few skills from him. After the few initial moments of hesitation, she boldly responded to his actions, often reciprocating the moves.

She wanted to please and he was still throbbing with pleasure.

Matthew quickened his steps. As he rounded the corner of the fair entrance and saw her standing by the fortune-teller’s tent as had been pre-assigned, he felt his heart skip. And when she turned around and spotted him, a smile brightening her already radiant face, he felt his heart swell at the thought that she was delighted to see him.

This was it, his brain informed him. He had found The One. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , ,

3 Comments

%d bloggers like this: