Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some SuperRomance...

So I read two Harlequin Supeerromances over the weekend. I am finding myself enjoying the line, although, the books aren't necessarily awesome. They are character-driven stories, and they often have out of the ordinary settings, characters and premises. They're a nice change of pace.

Coulda Been a Cowboy by Brenda Novak
Miniseries: A Dundee, Idaho Book
Mini-Synopsis: A football player takes custody of his illegitimate and unwanted son. Trying to stay out of scandal's way and get back into playing shape, Tyler Garnier, accepts a former teammate's offer of a cabin in Dundee Idaho. Now he just needs to find someone to keep his kid out of the way. Frumpy, poor Dakota Brown seems perfect. Although the two seem like total opposites, and Dakota doesn't respect Tyler at first, they strike up an unlikely friendship. And perhaps these two very different people are exactly what each other need.

This is the fourth book I've read by Brenda Novak. She always has interestingly flawed characters and unusual plotlines. However, in the past, I felt that the romance aspect kind of went by the wayside. In CBaC, the focus is firmly on the characters' relationship. Tyler was not nearly as unsympathetic as he could have been. He is singularly focused on his career, and just particularly clueless about how attached he really is to his son, and later his nanny. Dakota is a practical, intelligent woman who has been held back by tragedy and family. I liked the way their relationship developed. They had a nice friendship, and when they got together it was because they really knew and liked each other. The things that held the story back for me were that a potentially huge conflict regarding the babymomma was wrapped too quickly and pat and the fact that Tyler carried on with his "I can't be a family man" schtick for far too long. But still a B. Novak is an author to try.

Blame it on the Dog by Amy Frazier
Miniseries: Singles...with Kids
Mini-Synopsis: A San Francisco artist with a twelve year old son and a rambunctious mutt, finds herself in need of a "dog behaviorist." The trainer's calm, stern demeanor and approach to disciplining animals alternately infuriate and intrigue Selena Milano. Jack Quinn finds himself fascinated by the mercurial Selena, bringing up emotions he hasn't felt since the death of his wife. But will these opposites be tripped up by Selena's need for independence?

This is the first book I've read by Amy Frazier. She has a nice writing style, and I read this book in a matter of hours. I liked the funky SF setting, and the unusual occupation of the hero and heroine. Selena is an installation artist, and Jack rehabilitates dogs and runs a huge rescue center. However the book suffered from an issue that I find happens often in books of this ilk. I'm always attracted to stories with free-spirited heroines and conservative heroes, but that "free-spirited" label tends to mean immature and bratty behavior on the part of the heroine. Selena is no exception. Her insistence on "self-reliance" and fear of losing control over her son, cause her to treat Jack like crap way too many times. I grew increasingly exasperated, and wanted him to cut and run. Jack was a great guy, but not nearly as uptight as you would think. He feel like a ton of bricks right away, and pursued Selena even though she was unpleasant to him. I wished he had a little more fight. When she changed her mind at the end I wasn't positive she wouldn't change it again. This one gets a C+. But I would try this author again, with a different storyline.