Posts Tagged contemporary romance

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.

 

Advertisements

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

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

I’ll Be True (Chapter 25)

Read Chapter 24 before you continue…

Matthew tugged her into a dark room, locking the door behind them. The moment he had reached for her on the stage, hell broke loose. Despite the fact that he had the presence of mind to contain his emotions to a polite peck on the cheek, the media was not fooled and made sure to record plenty of visual proofs. Their chemistry belied their attempt at a nonchalant greeting and the nature of their relationship became one of the primary lineups of inquiry. She dreaded to imagine the kind of reaction a stronger display of affection from Matthew would have generated. His eloquent speech before her arrival had not helped the situation either. Fortunately, Matthew was able to volley the questions like the expert he was and even had tackled a few aimed at her.

There were, however, two questions he could not have answered on her behalf. And although Brooke had helped her anticipate them, allowing her time to prepare responses, when actually posed by the first query, having finally seen the magnitude of the exhibition, she shook to her core by newfound revelations.

“Matthew is a duly renowned artist in his genre. How did it feel to be under the investigation of his lens?”

Matthew’s eyes had sought hers in that moment. It was looking into the blue-green lagoon of his gaze, she had replied, straining her brain to find justifiable words. She remembered stringing together words such as flattering, gratifying, life altering and special into a tangle of sentences. Later, she had returned her attention to the journalist, in a final bid to disguise her more private emotions with banter. “I wasn’t his sole subject at the time but, seeing how it’s turned out, it’s a bit disconcerting really.”

The next question should have been easy. A reporter had asked, given that she had been exposed to the experience if she would consider future modeling offers, which she vehemently negated. However, the reporter had been persistent and went on to ask if she would remain strict on that decision if the request came from Matthew. She had blushed profusely, stumbling for the appropriate answer, and, in the end, mumbled a vague “time would tell”. Yet, she knew even then she would not refuse Matthew. She couldn’t.

She was grateful for the moment when their time on stage came to an end. Matthew wasted no time in whisking her away to more private quarters of the gallery’s back office. Now she blushed again as she stood in the dark with him, close enough for their breaths to mingle, and remembered the power he had to draw her in. In more ways than to just sweet talk her into sitting still for his camera.  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

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 23)

Read Chapter 22 before you continue…

 

“I’m so glad y’all came!” There was a giant grin on Brooke’s face, as though she was genuinely happy to see them. Even Elaina. “C’mon in.” She led them through the small foyer of her Garment District factory-turned-flat to the living room.

“Oh, Brooke,” moaned Ahyoka very appropriately. “I do declare, this here is charming!”

A cavernous sitting room opened up into a dining area, behind which sprawled a shiny stone-and-steel kitchen. Picture windows lined the broadest stretch of wall in the expansive space, through which they had a panoramic view of New York City’s high-rises, from the concentration of industrial buildings across the street to the tip of the hotel they were staying in. It was the brightest, cleanest room Elaina had ever set foot in and she immediately became conscious of how dusty her boots were.

Everywhere she looked, gleaming white furniture occupied the prospect. Here and there, accents of gold and silver peeked out from metal and fabric articles ornamenting the alabaster scheme. She even spotted a pair of sequined throw pillows on the snowy leather couch that looked as though it was hardly ever sat on. On principle, Elaina knew she should feel revolted by its almost sterilized appearance. Yet she could not help admiring how tasteful it truly was – much like the image adapted by its resident. This was Brooke’s domain. The refined Brooke. Not the unruly, spirited best friend of her childhood.

She glanced at Brooke’s matching attire, which was a short white peasant frock cinched at the waist with a fat gold chain. Gold hoop earrings, bangles, and sandals completed the look. Elaina was ready to bet her horse that even the underwear was color coordinated with the living room. As usual, Brooke was showing off and Elaina once again wondered if this was not the worst plan that Brooke had ever had and she agreed to. She could never compete with the gorgeous Brooke of then, much less the glamorous Brooke of now.

Beside her, Elaina felt downright dowdy in her trademark plaid shirt and faded wrangler jeans. The newest item on her was the Suede jacket she had thrown on out of respect for the city’s cooler weather, the oldest were her spur-less boots and Stetson. The latter, she could not leave behind in her hotel room despite much deliberation because stepping outside without it made her head tingle too much to see whether she was coming or going. The overall effect drew too many curious glances down the four blocks they walked from the hotel to Brooke’s apartment building. Even Ahyoka had managed to citify her appearance, as indicated by the admiring smiles from the suits they had passed on the way. The knitted wool turtleneck in rich terracotta with grey-green safari pants and some kind of laced up heels perfectly suited the honeyed colorings of her exuberant companion.

“Thanks, the agency set this up for us,” Brooke was saying in response to Ahyoka’s profuse appreciation.

Ahyoka cocked her head inquisitively. “Us?”

“I have four roommates. We model through the same agency. The girls are all out now but they will be back in time for dinner. I told them y’all were coming and they canceled their plans to join us. Also, they usually try to stay in on nights I cook,” added Brooke with pride.

Elaina couldn’t help raising an eyebrow. “You cook now?”

Brooke smiled sheepishly, seeming to lose a bit of her nerve at the blunt question. “Yeah, had to teach myself when I moved out here. There was a lot of spare time in the first year while I was getting acquainted with the industry. I can make only a few dishes but I practiced them enough to make them edible.”

Elaina noticed again how Brooke’s drawl kept slipping in and out when she spoke. Must be a side effect of life on the East Coast, she concluded.

“I’m sure dinner will be delightful,” Ahyoka encouraged.

Brooke visibly relaxed. “Well, don’t just stand there. C’mon. I’ll show you my room. Then y’all can sit at the kitchen while I ready dinner and we can have ourselves a chat.”

Ahyoka made to follow but Elaina hesitated. “I better not walk in here with my boots on. They’re dusty,” she explained.  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

I’ll Be True (Chapter 22)

Read Chapter 21 before you continue…

“Absolutely not!” Elaina stared down her three opponents. She was on to them. Their speech on trying out new things, with a side order of an attempt to make her feel obligated towards the bride’s wishes as maid-of-honor, was as transparent as the glass wall birds flew into. Well, she was no bird brain and she had never before heard of Ahyoka’s dream to have her bachelorette party in New York City. Convenient, this dream should reveal itself so soon after they had all received invitations to a certain photo exhibition. “Y’all are just trying to get me to Matthew’s show. I ain’t falling for it.”

“She saw right through that one, didn’t she?” muttered Ethel from where she was attending the stew simmering on the stove in the Coreys’ kitchen.

“It was Brooke’s genius plan, I was just enacting it,” Ahyoka defended herself, sitting down across from Elaina in dejection.

“It got us all down to the business of talking about the subject all the same,” June tried to pacify the situation, looking kindly at her future daught-in-law. “Better out than boiling in our heads.”

Not a chance in hell. “What’s this about Brooke?” Elaina demanded, trying to curb her surprise at this new piece of information.

“The cat’s outta the bag now and here comes the hissy fit,” Ethel alerted, turning her back to the rest of the tableau as though seeking cover from a battle field.

“No one’s going to have a hissy fit,” June talked over Ahyoka who was beginning to stammer another protest at being chided for the plan and its source.

“I will if no one explains to me what’s this about it being Brooke’s plan,” warned Elaina.

“June, meet your only daughter,” threw in Ethel like an aside. “She’s blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful and likes to stomp around the ranch with an angry cloud of steam over her head, picking fights with anybody and everybody willing.” No one paid her much mind. Sarcasm was part of their housekeeper’s charm – her snarky comments, an embrace.

“You have been a tad bit hard to live with recently,” her mother added tentatively, trying to iron out the harshness in the appraisal.

“Try more like in recent few months,” Ethel put in.

“Just shy of three months actually,” Ahyoka tidied up, ever the banker with her penchant for numbers. “Since about the time that photographer we’ve all come to admire vamoosed.”

“I have not,” Elaina challenged across the kitchen table.  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments

I’ll Be True

A story about a woman who refused to believe that she could win in love. And about a man who almost gave up on her…

On the night of Elaina Corey’s high school prom, a betrayal by her best friend had rendered her permanently mistrustful about friendship and love. Thankfully, the said best friend had skipped town immediately after and left her to wallow in her misgivings and misery among fortunate distractions in the form of a close-knit family and a demanding family ranch. Now, after five years, the best friend is back and she has a handsome and talented man in tow whose relationship to the best friend is highly suspect. Of course, Elaina wants not his friendship nor his love simply because she does not believe in their durability beyond blood ties – and especially, not when it means she has to compete with the dreaded best friend. The problem is, Elaina can’t seem to help herself…

Matthew Halls had only two motives when he agreed to accompany his friend (and former lover) to her hometown, Lainie’s Creek, Texas, on her return after a five years’ absence: provide her with the moral support that she needed and add a photo series on country life to his portfolio for his upcoming exhibition in New York City. But that didn’t mean that he could not have a third motive – getting to know Elaina Corey, his favorite cowgirl. Unfortunately, his third motive was quickly replacing his first and Elaina was proving to be ever-evasive and her heart impenetrable…

Read

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Final Chapter

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

8 Comments

%d bloggers like this: