Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New Feature! OT (Off-Topic) Book Review

We are introducing a new regular feature on the blog...well semi-regular. Hmmm...make that when I can nail down our agents to write up a book review that has nothing to do with any of our clients. Ergo, off-topic. *sigh* Well, just enjoy this lovely review of FIRESIDE by the effervescent Melissa Jeglinski. Now let me go see who I can shakedown for the next one. Does the word shakedown make anyone else think of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack (you know, "shakedown, breakdown, takedown, you're busted...")? *crickets* Okaaayyy, just me. Without further ado:
Melissa Jeglinski Reviews FIRESIDE by Susan Wiggs
I have always been a huge fan of Susan Wiggs, especially her LAKESHORE CHRONICLES series. I love revisiting her town of Avalon, New York, with its complex characters--it’s familiarity as warm and comforting as a hand-knitted afghan. And so it was with much anticipation that I sat myself down to read her latest, FIRESIDE.


It was nice to find baseball player Bo Crutcher as the main protagonist—he had intrigued me in prior books; he certainly had his share of baggage, not to mention attitude. As FIRESIDE begins, Bo has finally been given his big chance at the majors. But just as he is on the cusp of that life-long dream, he must take on the role of father to the son he’s never met. Young AJ’s mother has been sent to a holding facility for illegal immigrants—falsely held there due to a lack of proper legal documents. With nowhere to turn, AJ is now with the father he doesn’t know and refuses to love. The emotional relationship of between father and son was well developed and I thoroughly enjoyed Bo tackling his new role.

But while Bo struggles to find his footing as “dad”, his pairing up with Kimberly van Dorn simply fell flat. A few scenes with jaunty banter and they are suddenly in love? It simply didn’t evolve enough for me to believe in this relationship’s ability to withstand any sort of conflict. Perhaps it is because I could not route for the character of Kimberly. Sadly, I could not respect her decision to simply run from a bad situation, allowing the more powerful and well-connected man to have the upper hand...especially in a case where abuse is an issue. Her attitude to just let things go really bothered me. I wanted to see a character who would fight for what she wanted...not allow things to simply happen.

There was plenty of emotional material in both protagonists’ back stories, but they never moved forward. And because this romantic relationship fell to the wayside, so, too, did my interest. I had hopes that a secondary storyline involving Daisy and Julian would at least hold my attention—their arch has been building for several books. But those promising characters were given just a few fleeting scenes. In most all of the prior LAKESHORE CHRONICLE books, secondary storylines have intrigued me, allowing me to really get to know other characters in the town, anticipating whose story would be next. But FIRESIDE only provided the briefest mention of beloved townsfolk, leaving me unsatisfied.

This hasn’t stopped me from wanting more LAKESHORE CHRONICLES. Every one of my favorite authors has written a book I’m not a fan of. I chock this up to an author discovering she doesn’t love the plot or characters as much as she had thought she would when she began writing. Or, a looming deadline forcing her to hurry an ending she’d much rather have given another month or two to develop. So, while FIRESIDE isn’t going into my “keeper” pile, I did enjoy several hours of escapism—and these days, what’s so bad about that?

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4 Comments:

Blogger ----- Jennifer ----- said...

your blog is feel good

Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 10:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I love the new feature. Thanks for the first review Melissa. We look forward to hearing what the pros are reading. Oh and PS, loved the Beverly Hills song reference. No crickets here, I was singing along.

Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 10:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kaye Manro said...

Why is it that well known authors can get by with bad storylines, undeveloped relationships, etc? This is romance. So where is the romance? A newbie writer would have a rejection in her mailbox for a plot like this one. So that's what is so bad about that!

Friday, April 10, 2009 at 10:30:00 AM EDT  
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