Posts Tagged Novel

Wednesday Reflections #21 – Something About You by Julie James

201003-something-about-you1Title     Something About You

Series     FBI/US Attorney #01

Author     Julie James

Genre     Contemporary Romance | Romantic Suspense

Publisher      Penguin/Berkley

Publication Date      March 2nd 2010

Format      eBook

Setting     Chicago, Illinois, USA

ISBN     1101185805

Synopsis: When Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde checks into an upscale hotel for the weekend as the newly tiled floors in her house dries, she expects a peaceful night’s sleep. Instead, she finds herself kept awake by very noisy copulation by the guests next door. But calling in security on the lovers lands Cameron as a key witness for a murder case – a case that involves a dead escort, a philandering Senate, and Cameron’s nemesis FBI Agent Jack Pallas. Three years ago, Cameron and Jack had a falling out when Cameron was made to axe a case for which Jack had worked undercover and been tortured. Not knowing that the decision to shut down the case was Cameron’s boss’s idea, Jack had slandered Cameron on national TV. With no love lost between them, Cameron is reluctant to work with Jack but her sense of duty has her cooperating. She is put under police surveillance when they discover the Senate did not commit the murder and the real murderer is a faceless man at large. Though most of the surveillance work is handled by the CPD, Cameron and Jack are thrown together more often than they desire since he is the lead investigator. Tension mounts as they continue to bait each other at every encounter but their raw sexual attraction is also undeniable. And then the murderer appears masked in her house one night and Jack enlists himself to act as her live-in bodyguard.

Experience: I’ll admit, the humor in opening scene of this novel was very forced. The loud headboard banging from the next guest room occupied half of it and I thought a bit unnecessary to prolong. But luckily, the book then took a very positive turn and I LOVED IT! In fact, I loved it enough to breeze through the rest of the series and found that James sustains her ability to hold me as a reader.

It was a feel-good romance, which is what got me into writing romances in the first place. Both the heroine and the hero were solid individuals that I could like and become friends with if they were real people. There were some great tête-e-tête between Cameron and Jack that made me laugh outloud (or at least sport a goofy smile in public). And I really admire how James generally makes her female characters such women of the world, professionally successful and settled, and the men so driven. That the men are so mucho doesn’t hurt either but I appreciated that their moral radar is so intact even more.

Yet, they are not without imperfections. I admired how Cameron travelled with a whole case of cosmetics to make herself presentable or that she put on makeup after a shower even if she was staying in. This made her more real, more accessible to the contemporary women of our generation. James broke the mold of gorgeous romance heroine who look shiny and brand new even when they wake up in the back alley of a seedy bar after passing out from participating in a night of drunken carousel – not that traditional romance heroines would participate in such activities. The supporting characters are equally charming, with men owning up to watching chick flicks and having heart-to-hearts even while the hero tries to remain alpha though with twitchy smiles. Stereotypes, be damned.

Julie James also has gone intersectional with her romance. In fact, all of the books in the series had people of color, different faiths, sexual orientations, etc. who were NOT put in negative roles. And since the books were written in the pre-Trump campaign era, I would have to say James demonstrates a lot of foresight by portraying the true face of America today. It wasn’t that she was blaring her endorsement of tolerance but had the presence of mind to not white wash all her characters. In Something About You, Cameron’s best friend is a homosexual man who is a sports writer and Jack’s partner is a heterosexual African American man top cadet from Harvard who dresses like a fashionista and is unabashedly in touch with his feminine side. Again, out with the stereotypes.

The plot was totally plausible and there wasn’t too much hullaballoo over the setting to draw attention away from the matter at hand – the blooming romance between two professional adversaries. But the one thing that I thought could have turned out better is the element of surprise. For a romantic suspense, there wasn’t much suspense. In fact, reader is introduced to the murdered from act one, name, role, and POV. We are informed why he committed the crime, we are exposed to his moral sense, and we are hinted on what his next move will be. The only thing left to do was read how it all pans out. In essence, the suspense belonged to the characters within the story and not for the readers to work through. But I actually understood why James did not sweat over arranging the scenes in the novel in a way that bolstered the mystery. Despite being a murder mystery, the main motivator for the story is romance. And when all things are said and done, for a reader of romance, that is okay too.

Recommendation: I recommend reading the entire series, even though I am not reviewing all of it. If you love contemporary romance that stays true to the modern society, this book is a great read.

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Lakeside Rendezvous

Via: Daily Prompt- Glitter

 

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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).

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WRITING CHRONICLE #07: Adding imperfections

Via: Daily Prompt – Lukewarm

 

 

Recently I read a blog on why heroes need to be imperfect men to keep the energy of novels alive and realized that, while focusing greatly on adding and resolving the conflicts of the heroine in one of my stories, I may have done the hero a disservice. I may have made my hero lukewarm. So I did what I usually do these days when faced with a fiction writing conundrum – I turned to my online coursemates. The feedback was split into two schools of thoughts.  Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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WEDNESDAY REFLECTIONS #06: The Art of ‘Trembling’ in Romance

Via: Daily Prompt – Tremble

 

Romantic Roses Book Read Book Pages Literature

Image: Max Pixel

 

If the word ‘tremble’ came up during a word association game, my first answer would be ‘romance novels’. But if anyone really gave me the time to come up with one single word, it would be ‘containment’. That’s what I always have felt trembling results from – the inability to contain. Whether describing earthquakes or human emotions, trembling essentially describes something that is ready to burst, that which cannot remain hidden.

No one brings out this better than romance novelists. And here are sixteen quick quotes from some of my favorite books:

“He leaned forward and kissed her softly, his mouth fitting hers so perfectly that she trembled. She tasted the heat of him and licked the chocolate off his lip and felt his tongue against hers, hot and devastating, and when he broke the kiss, she was breathless and dizzy and aching for more. He held her eyes, looking as dazed as she felt, but she wasn’t deceived at all, she knew what he was.

She just didn’t care.”

~Jennifer Crusie, 2004, Bet Me, Chapter 05

“He trembled. She loved that she could make him tremble.”

~ Julia Quinn, 2013, The Sum of All Kisses, Chapter 15

“He looked well. Truly well. Not just handsome, but vigorous and strong. After feeling him groan and tremble beside her last night, this came as profound relief.”

 ~ Tessa Dare, 2012, A Week to Be Wicked, Chapter 09

“The scarlet hibiscus bloom on the front of her T-shirt trembled with  indignation.”

~Sandra Brown, 1988, Adam’s Fall, Chapter 02

“She trembled as his searing lips pressed against her throat and beneath her breasts her heart thumped wildly.”

~ Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, 1972, The Flame and the Flower, Chapter 01

“Her hand on him trembled. She had never done this to a man, but suddenly her hand wasn’t enough. It was too distant from her heart.”

~ Susan Elizabeth Phillips, 2000, It Had to Be You, Chapter 17

“Her lip trembled, darkening to a deeper pink, a sign that his strategy was working.”

~ Laura Lee Guhrke, 2015, Catch a Falling Princess, Chapter 12

“Her insides trembled as she recalled how he’d leaned down and she’d thought, nay, she’d wished with everything she possessed that he would kiss her again. Leave her so breathless and insensible that he’d pick up the reins and steal her away, take her far from London before she ever gained the wits to protest.”

~ Elizabeth Boyle, 2012, Along Came a Duke, Chapter 13

“Then she trembled, and he forgot to be amused at both of them. When he eased back he saw that she was still pale, her eyes dark and clouded. Testing, he pressed light kisses on either side of her mouth and watched her lashes flutter.”

~ Nora Robert, 1996, Holding the Dream, Chapter 07

“When she looked up into his steel blue eyes and saw the promise of just how she’s pay, she trembled with anticipation.”

~ Jenna McKnight, 2007, Witch in the House, Chapter 13

“‘You came,’ she said simply, and he recalled that as she had coughed up water and trembled with relief in the moments after he’d rescued her, she’d whispered the same words. You came.”

~Sarah MacLean, 2011, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, Chapter 06

“He glanced up then, his eyes dark and hidden. She tried to smile, tried to look back at him alluringly, but her lips trembled imperceptibly. His gaze dropped to her mouth and stayed there, his face brooding. She caught her breath. She did not know this man. Not really.”

~Elizabeth Hoyt, 2013, Lord of Darkness, Chapter 03

“She had trembled when he touched her. And for one moment, she’d thought his hand trembled, too.”

~ Sophie Jordan, 2014, A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin, Chapter 14

“Afterward Paul kissed her briefly. Although his mouth had barely grazed hers, a riot of sensations came rushing at Leah. She trembled in his arms and prayed he hadn’t guessed how strong her response had been.”

~Debbie Macomber, 1995, Stand-In Wife, Chapter 07

“It seems his wife had truly mourned the death of her father. Vander didn’t like how much her tears had affected him. Mia’s soft mouth had quivered, and he’d wanted to kiss her until she trembled all over for a different reason. The moment he’d realized she was crying, he had wanted to take her into his arms and kiss her until she cheered up.”

~Eloise James, 2015, Four Nights With the Duke, Chapter 16

“She wanted to run to him. She wanted to touch him. The effort of standing motionless caused her muscles to tremble in protest.”

~ Lisa Kleypas, 2010, Love in the Afternoon, Chapter 07

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WRITING CHRONICLES #06: Drowning In Data

Via: Daily Prompt – Craft

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Image: Wikimedia

I started writing my first novel while waiting for my ‘O’ level results. The four-month leisure period was ample time for story ideas to formulate in my head so I picked one and ran with it. I had nothing to guide me back then apart from the novels I was reading. This was a time before blogs were popular and MOOCs even existed. Unlike today, there were no resources available – without registering into a paid course – to train me for the craft I loved so much. I was winging it all the way through. Halfway into my prologue, I realized I had a plot but needed backstories for my main characters. Their sizes and shapes were clear but who they were as individuals still obscure. Hence, the research began.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Read or Write? (05 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Overwhelming

 

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Image: Zaireen Lupa

 

Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And who better to listen to than this king of the craft, right? But even before coming across that particular pearl of wisdom, I had discovered the benefits of reading for the profession of writing. First and foremost, reading good literature (ranging from classics to simple feel-good entertainments) was what turned me towards the need to create literature of my own. I would read an especially eloquent phrase or passage and marvel at the world of meaning behind the selection of each word. I would be inspired to create in that all-consuming awe-inspiring manner and sometimes envy the range of skills, this depth of knowledge possessed by the authors I read – that they got there before I did – even as I devoted myself to their praise. To me, good writing has always been akin to godliness and the fact that I am able to partake of that godliness is an honor.

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Image: Pexels

So when I started roaming the WP blogosphere at the end of January and started perusing the reading lists of many book lovers and reviewers, I felt ashamed of falling so far behind. I read only one complete novel in the month of January 2017! I am that person in all of my groups who is defined by her reading habit. It is not uncommon for people to introduce me first as a reader and writer in social engagements. The summer I turned 12 years old, I consistently read 25 books every week and at the end was given a token reward by the Queens Library in Main St., NY, NY from where all these books came. As usual, I broke my reading challenge goal on Goodreads last year and I keep increasing the number every year because, to me, reading avidly is an accomplishment. So to have only one book read in an entire month? Stunning. Castigating.

It’s not that I didn’t see it coming. Every week, as the time came around for me to work on my WEDNESDAY REFLECTIONS, I would panic and pick up a book. But I just couldn’t push myself to finish any. What happened? I started writing. Those of you who have been following my blog the past month would know I’m taking part in this online fiction writing course. Well, there are multiple assignments every week that require us to come up with new characters and stories. We also get into a lot of group discussions on the forum based on our observations of the course materials provided. Then there is this blog itself. Apart from starting my two weekly articles to record my writing experiences and books/movies I am coming across, I have also been responding to these damn Daily Prompts. Why? Because the writing course is doing its job and has turned on the faucet in my head. I constantly write. Grammarly reported to me this week that I wrote 29,088 words between January 23-29. That’s just online. Never mind all that I’m composing on MS Word or my notebooks. Meanwhile, Goodreads sent me an e-mail prompt that I haven’t updated my Currently Reading section in a while. Well, slap me silly and call me a delinquent!

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Image: Pexels

The first three-quarters of last year, I hardly got any writing done because I was enjoying reading so much. This year, I have hardly read anything. Between writing like a maniac, I mostly shower, eat, and rest. On random occasions, I watch a movie; once or twice, I leave the house to see the world. A few times, I tried reading before bed but I conk out before I finish a single chapter because writing relaxes me these days as much as it depletes me of my energy. It’s such a high, it’s overwhelming – and I don’t want it to stop.

Meanwhile, so many promising books came out in the past few months and a lifetime before that, which I haven’t gotten to. And so many are lined up for the coming year. My reading list continues to grow and I haven’t stopped filling up my devices with e-books and my shelves with hard covers and paperbacks. And there’s the fact that Stephen King also said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Easy for you to say, Mr. King!

 

 

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Wednesday Reflections #02 – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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Title     Lola and the Boy Next Door

Series     Anna and the French Kiss #02

Author     Stephanie Perkins

Genre     Young Adult Romance

Publisher     Dutton Books

Publication Date     September 29, 2011

Format     E-book

ISBN     978-1-101-52948-5

Synopsis: Lola Nolan is an aspiring fashion designer with grand, over-the-top concepts that sort of define her personality. She is also a good daughter, a good enough student to keep her parents satisfied, a good friend most of the time, a fairly good employee at the movie theater where she works part-time and a pretty good girlfriend to keep her rocker boyfriend Max interested. Too bad her love interest does not fully suit the rest of her world. But Lola gets by juggling between Max and all her other responsibilities. Until the dreaded Bell twins return to the neighborhood and Cricket Bell is once again brought to the forefront of her life, throwing her emotions and life into chaos. Her childhood friends Calliope and Cricket had transformed into two divergent roles in Lola’s life as they all grew up next door to each other. While national ice skater Calliope lost interest in Lola and saw her as a nemesis there to steal her twin brother’s attention away, boy-inventor Cricket became Lola’s lifetime crush. Thankfully, they were rarely around and Lola thought she grew out of her feelings for Cricket when the Bells moved away to pursue Calliope’s career. And she also had Max… But as the Bells move back in next door, Lola is compelled to wonder the accuracy of her self-assessments.

The following section may contain some spoilers…

Experience: I loved this book and I am going to just dive into it. Despite the title more or less giving away the ending (either Lola will leave her present boyfriend for the boy next door or fumble with her feelings for the boy next door and return to her boyfriend), it is truly one of those journey-through-the-plot kind of novel and it is even more ripe with unfolding revelations because of the way Stephanie Perkins used her trademark first-person POV to reach each movement of Lola’s character development. The series of events that occur in Lola’s life, how she deals with each in the present either in reflection of her future aspirations as well as her past experiences kept me on edge. It was not very difficult to guess which ending the book will reach after reading a few chapters but it was very, very important to see how Lola would reach that conclusion all the same. Her reactions kept the suspense alive and the plot churning. And it was very interesting how Perkins managed to blend the character arc as a response to the plot conflict, which by the way was truly plot-driven and not just something the character built up in the protagonist’s head.

Moreover, as Lola transforms in the book, through her viewpoint, we also see this kaleidoscope of other very relevant characters transform, or rather their true natures reveal themselves. In fact, what makes Lola… the book so great is that Lola wouldn’t be Lola if it weren’t for the people in her life. Her parents support her career aspirations and this is an important aspect of Lola, who is really one of the most colorful characters I have come across in years. I kept imagining a butterfly with beautiful sparkly wings but one that could just as easily become a gray moth. And while her fashion sense made her a misfit in school, it’s also sort of okay because she has a great supportive best friend with whom she not only shares couture related traditions but who is also able to sanction Lola’s love affair with Max despite not being able to get along with Max herself.

Which brings us to the romantic conflicts. Max is obviously in a relationship with Lola because he is intrigued and attracted by her creative sense. But at the same time, it’s her quirky outfits that sort of niggle on him too, though he tries to claim that it is really her secretive ways. But this suggests Lola, who is all about expressing herself through her fashion, is really hiding from him because she is not fully sure of herself. An abject contrast to her relationship with Cricket, with whom she seems unable to hide anything about herself at all. Meanwhile, Cricket, as an inventor, actually feeds Lola’s aspirations with tangible contributions. Yet, she cannot consciously accept herself to be in his company because of their past conflicts. Honesty in relationships as well as with oneself is definitely a key theme of this novel. But then, the contrast between Max and Cricket is not only explored by Lola’s reaction to each love interest but also by through the interactions each possible hero has with the important people in Lola’s life. Despite the superficial similarities between Max and Cricket (creative, attractive, somewhat successful and with unique dress sense), the people Lola’s life respond differently to each.

In all this, enters Lola’s former drug addict and somewhat dissolute birth mother with whom she cannot abide and who is again living in her house and making life uncomfortable for everyone, another potential angle for Lola’s growth and self-acceptance. And even Anna and St. Clair, the wonderful heroine and hero from Anna and the French Kiss (first of the series), make appearances to further confuse Lola with their extremely adorable and heartwarmingly cohesive relationship by providing a contrast with her own relationship with Max while throwing her more frequently into Cricket’s path.

Really, with so many people so greatly invested in her life, how can a girl, who is simply trying to keep her boyfriend happy and not get involved with a former-present crush with all the seeming ability to devastate her again, not get confused? But, just as an aside, I would love to have as many creative and crazy people in my life even if they were a bit meddlesome.

Before I finish this review, I must also put in a word for Perkins’s method of world building in this novel. While in Anna…, Perkins spent long beautifully written passages describing Paris through Anna’s eyes, in Lola… she better employs her narrative genius to create individual settings to develop the reader’s sense of each character. Because, again, for Lola, all these people are essential. Perkins delves greatly into helping readers visualize Lola’s and Cricket’s bedrooms, her baker dad’s kitchen, Max’s apartment, even the living room where Lola’s mom moves in and transforms, each space an extension of the characters’ personalities and each a setting where some significant scenes of the novel unfold.

Last but not least, I always love Perkin’s name selection. Lola and Cricket, gotta love it!

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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 »

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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 »

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