Picky Reader – 8

I zipped through Karen Robards’ Shameless in about two days.  There are a couple of things I noticed about Ms. Robards’ writing in this book.  One is her pacing which is rather deliberate and filled with detail.  She never rushes through a scene.  The other thing (I don’t understand why authors do this) is constant referrals to what the characters look like.  The breadth of the hero’s shoulders, the color of the heroine’s eyes, her figure, his height and musculature, her breasts.  This is minor stuff and it isn’t a criticism (exactly) of one of my favorite authors.  It’s simply one of my pet peeves.

I kept worrying that I’d already read this book, maybe a long time ago, because something about it felt familiar.  But I know now that I never read it.  It wasn’t one of those annoying reissues of a book published years ago.  Maybe I read the earlier two books in this series which were, I presume, published a few years ago.  Rarely do I read historical romance novels these days, although I used to love them.  I only picked this one up because it had Karen Robards name on it.

There are a lot of authors attempting romantic suspense, but few who do it well (or up to my standards).  Pursuit has lots of twisty turns and a rather bold and unexpected storyline.  While the suspense plot might have overshadowed the romantic plot which seems to develop really quickly, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book and again, I read it in a just a few days.

One thing I noticed, and maybe this is a difference I never picked up on back when I read historical romance novels.  Having read a historical and a contemporary by the same author back to back, the contemporary lacks the same constant physical descriptions of the characters (Thank God).  Maybe those repetitive descriptions are expected in a historical romance.

I also noticed Ms. Robards’ pacing is, for the most part, from one moment to the next in both books.  Like the TV show 24 Hours, we’re in real time sequence throughout.  Maybe that’s why the romance seems rushed.  Within days the protagonists have fallen in love, or at least lust, with each other.  This might be due to the fact that one or both of them are running for their lives and must make the most of each second.  So you might as well have sex with the individual you’ve been thrown into danger with in case it’s your last chance.  As the character of Mark Ryan says in Pursuit, “Now’s all we’ve got.  It’s really all anybody’s got.”

I was afraid the ending was tied up in too neat a bow, and maybe it was.  It works although I doubt a U.S. President would ever be allowed to “quietly resign.”  But I have to remind myself this is fiction not reality.

After reading James Sheehan’s The Law of Second Chances I’m rethinking my opinion of male authors.  Maybe male authors just need to stick to what they know.  I guess the same could be said of female authors and there are books by females I read and don’t particularly enjoy either or try to read and put down without finishing.  Years ago I read everything I could get my hands on by John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard.  Maybe the trick is to find male authors I enjoy reading and I haven’t made much effort to do that.  I loved The Bourne Identity, although the author’s name escapes me just at the moment.  He died, but I read a few of his books, The Parsifal Mosaic being the last.  I found I couldn’t follow the plots.  What was his name?  I’ll Google it before I post this.  Robert Ludlum.  Didn’t have to Google it.  My memory bank finally accessed it.

Mr. Sheehan is an attorney and he’s written a book with an attorney as a lead character.  The Law of Second Chances is cleverly put together with scenes from the past and seemingly unrelated events that all tie into the conclusion.  I am slow in many ways, but when I finally caught on, I had to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, and realize that it’s not stated the defendant on trial for murder actually pulled the trigger.  I did, however, have my suspicions about the real killer when that individual makes a second appearance in the story.  Very cleverly done.  I’d say there’s a good chance I’ll go back now and read Mr. Sheehan’s first book, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue.

The entire time I was reading The Road to Eden’s Ridge I was plagued by the sense that maybe I’d read it before.  The publication date is 2002, so it’s entirely possible, but I didn’t remember the story.  I hate thinking I’ve read something already, which is one of the reasons I started this blog thread, so I’d have a record of what and who I’ve read. 

The other thing that sort of annoyed me was the pacing.  It isn’t that there isn’t a good story here.  There’s nothing wrong with the writing.  But I wanted it to move so much faster than it does.  It’s like a lull-a-bye, slow and sweet, and it could be nothing more than that I’m too old for lull-a-byes.  Maybe because it deals with country music, it’s written a bit like a country song, in no hurry to hit the final chord.  Also, a big chunk of the story deals with a previous generation, so it’s sort of told in a flashback of that.  It’s well done and offers a nice parallel, but…flashbacks can’t help but slow the pace.  I thought the last chapter was the best and not just because I was ready to be done with the book.  It was simply beautifully written and brought all the threads of the story to a lovely conclusion.

I went all out and bought some books on sale at Books-A-Million last weekend and since I’ve finished all my library books and can’t get back there for a couple of days I started The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman on my lunch break today.  I’m on page 9, and it’s too soon to pass judgment so watch for the next Picky Reader installment.

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