Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Get in the Way Back Machine

When I was in High School, I was sick all the time. ALL THE TIME. I had two extended bouts with mono, and in between I was plagued with constant sinus infections. During this period of time I read a lot. While I was home alone, I developed the habit of picking through my mother's stash of Romance keepers. There were several that stood out in my mind, and when my parents moved last summer, it provided me with a great opportunity to make off with some of them. I've been meaning to re-read to see if my 31 year old self likes the same stuff my 16 year old self did. But I haven't had the time until now. Seriously unable to stick with any book (check out my pathetic tally to the right), I thought that one of these old categories would be a quick read.

As it turns out, Laura Leone (now writing primarily as Laura Resnick, has written a number of well-received romances (including the man-whore book Fallen From Grace, which I've been intending to read.) The old favorite I picked out was Guilty Secrets, a Silhouette Desire originally published in 1990, and now out of print.

Guilty Secrets revolves around Leah MacCargar, a History graduate student who returns home for the summer to the Ithaca, New York home of Verbena MacCargar, the aunt who raised her. Leah is dismayed to find that her aunt, a noted Medievalist, has chosen a most unsuitable writing partner for her next publishing endeavor. Adam Jordan, who has taken up residence in the rambling home, is an author of what Leah considers to be flashy, lowbrow, "pop" history. Though he is handsome, sexy and charming, Leah disdainfully doubts his intellectual capabilities and academic credentials. Fiercely protective of her aunt, Leah sets out to get rid of the man she perceives to be a threat to her eccentric aunt's reputation and career. However, her interactions with Adam will ultimately cause her to question her long held beliefs.

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This book held up quite well fifteen years later. Leone writes with a light, sure, intelligent touch. I enjoyed the accademic setting. This book is full of wacky hijinks. You've got eccentric family members, a menagerie of weird pets, pretentious academics, mysterious men in badly tailored suits and new age gurus running amok. Instead of being corny or hamfisted however, GS is witty and amusing throughout. The characters are great, particularly the hero. Adam is a well rounded character, charming, sexy and very intelligent. Unfortunately, Leah is another story. She is an unabashed intellectual snob who passes incredibly uninformed judgments upon Adam. At one point, he thinks to himself that the reasons she resists their attraction are "...superficial, pretentious, insubstantial and snobbish...." This isn't a bad description of the character herself, which dampened my enjoyment somewhat. But the couple's chemistry is sparkling, their interactions are fun, and Adam always gets the last word. As Leah comes to realize the folly of her ways, she becomes more likeable, and I definitely rooted for their HEA. Leone did a good job of showing their growing respect for each other, as well as their increasing attraction.

All in all, my teenage self had pretty good taste. Although I was left with the feeling that things got wrapped up a bit neatly and quickly (which I often feel with category romance), overall this was a funny, fast read with believable love story and fully realized characters. It's one of the best categories I've ever read, and I'd give it a B+. A look over Ms. Leone's website suggest that culture clashes and wit are a specialty of hers. A number of her titles are available in electronic format, and I'll definitely be checking them out in the future.


Kristie (J) said...

Ooooh another one to look for by her. And you really do need to give FFG a read. It's a marvelous book!! I've read it about 4 times so far.

Margee said...

Devon, please tell me you've read The Yankee Wife. I snuck that one off of mom's shelf in middle school, on a roll after reading Judy Blume's Forever, and it was the most scandalous book I'd ever read. Totally changed me. Search your mom-stash for that one.

Devon said...

The Yankee wife? Never heard of it. Is it about baseball?