Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Overthinking Harlequin, Part 5! And Welcome Back...

So here I am again, after a while.  Still plumbing the depths of that massive books of books from America.  Well, let's be honest, it was more than one know me.  The blog was sitting, deadly, for some time there.  I did actually think about stopping it, and I still might, as I find myself with very little to say indeed.  I mean - in real life, I do talk (my job is on the phones all day), but the last few months or so, I have been finding myself increasingly stymied by lack of place and lack of identity in relation to the rest of the world.  Yes - I bother my head about stuff like this, instead of Just Getting On With Things and Making The Best Of It (absolutely hate both those phrases, efficient though they are).  I will just post when a post is ready.  I used to try and be Regular (I should feed the Blog some bran), but I am too tired, too confused and despondent about the state of the world - a bit like my friend Hystery  - hopefully she'll write something for here sometime soon?).  I also feel like the blog has no theme or direction.  I'm not fussed about it becoming mostly a book and film review blog - though it used to be nice when I generated my own thoughts more often; not just commenting on other's hard work that I liked.  We'll have to see.  I'll let it be freefalling, and free associative.  If it goes up here, it does.  Its still the blog of the WendyWorld, after all, the BlackberryJuniperUniverse - whatever interests me. 

But I noticed that this post is ready.  If I let it get much longer, it will be unwieldy.  So I let it go, so my loyal 1 or 2 readers can think about matters of love and kindness. 

Because, Gods and Goddesses know, we sure as shit need it, in the world.

1.    Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs (Lakeshore Chronicles, 2008)
(This is the most satisfying entry to the series since the first one.  I didn’t expect to like Sophie Bellamy as much as I did – she seemed a bit too perfect and uptight and insecurity making; turns out she is just like me: a bit control freaky, a rabid maker of lists and to do lists, single-mindedly throwing herself into things, and a consummate worker of the fleeing option when things don’t work out.  So turns out I understood her pretty well and liked her all the more for being able to make a life U-turn and to try and do things totally differently [lawyer at the Hague International Criminal Court, to small-town hockey mother, with adopted dog and 2 adopted babies, caring also for her much younger boyfriend and her other 2 older children whose childhood she missed – she went for 100 mph to a much slower and more complicated home life].

It didn’t hurt at all that I loved the hero, the utterly easy-going Noah, who liked to tell her she was thinking a bit much and to enjoy life more.  He was funny and relaxing and read so huggable I could almost feel him.  Sigh…A big huggy vet.  Ahhhhhhh…

Also, there was the ongoing ‘what’s happening with Daisy?’ angle of the plot – which was tantalisingly given to readers with a little bit more Julian Gastineaux.  Who is a really interesting character I want to see more of.  And I am enjoying vicariously being quite sure he will get together with Daisy. 

Yes.  This novel felt insanely long for some reason; maybe because it was a real Middlemarch run through the life of a small-town, focussed on one person but not limited to them, and taking in a much larger backdrop.  This wasn’t just the love story, it was a slice of life story.  Very enjoyable.  ACTUAL BOOK.)
2.   The Coyote’s Cry, by Jackie Merritt (Silhouette Special Ed., The Coltons subseries, 2002)
(This started off very well and managed to be absorbing even though it was partially about nursing and taking care of terminally ill people – I am not a fan of medical dramas and will run a mile from even something as good as House [this sort of viewing is simply not sensible for an accomplished hypochondriac].  Yet the character of Bram, and Jenna’s kindness did hook me in.  As did, as ever, the Native American lore sprinkled through. 

However – though I finished it, it did sour somewhat for me.  There was a strong plotline about racism – the heroine’s father was a dreadful racist toward the Native Americans, which made obvious problems for Bram and Jenna, he being part Comanche.  But he was just as bad – constantly telling her she couldn’t understand things because she was ‘snow white’ and never explaining anything to her that as readers we understood quite quickly with very few words needed.  A different culture is a different culture; if you have a willingness to learn and try to understand – you will at least partially manage, whilst acknowledging you can never really 100% get it as you weren’t brought up with it.  But you can respectfully try.  But he treated her as though she were stupid.  And he was beyond rude.  I have no real idea why she put up with him; it started to stray into that worrying territory romances end up in sometimes, where people stay with semi-abusive or outright manipulative/ controlling/ abusive people or keep trying to get them/ cover for them/ enable them because they ‘love them’.  It ends up all very victim-y and unsavoury.  So by the end of this – I was thinking, well good luck Jenna – he only eventually decided to marry you because he found out you were part Comanche.  That’s it.  He never would have otherwise.  Nothing she did could have changed his attitude unless he was ready to change it, and there was NO evidence he really was.  So this stopped being romantic, and started to make me feel sad.  I finished it because I remember starting this Coltons series a long while ago and really enjoying it – but this instalment…*no*.  ACTUAL BOOK.)
3.   Handle with Care, by Jane Silverwood (Harlequin SuperRomance, 1989)
(This was lovely.  One of those quiet romances, yet filled with sincerity and people quietly overcoming their issues.  A woman left with little confidence after her narcissistic husband left her, and a teenage daughter with bulimia.  A man recovering alone after the death of his brother when both were taken hostage in Afghanistan.  This is just a quiet tale about how these people meet and help one another, slowly, with setbacks, but they get there.  There is *a lot* to be said for this quiet, kindly, everyday setting in romance.  It’s so much more believable and inspiring than all those granite jawed heroes mocking and being ‘sardonic’ that we were all too often treated to in the earlier 80s.  This hero was angry, but with good reason, and was trying to overcome, live with, and he had no axe to grind with the heroine – he respected and esteemed her, clearly.  Much lovelier as fiction role models.  This was a good read. ACTUAL BOOK.)
4.   Man in the Mist, by Annette Broadrick (Silhouette Special Edition, 2003)
(This started very well, a man is searching for a woman’s sister and gets sick, is taken in and nursed back together with herbs and simples and a red headed beauty, etc etc.  I just did start to feel there was some unnecessary repetition going on about the amount of teas she fed him to stop his terrible cough.  And really – he was very rude and ungrateful when she helped him; always being unpleasant and sulky.  I personally would have turfed him outside again!  It did have a nice atmosphere though, the Scottish mists and rainy weather, the sense of a man far from home, and a woman searching for her place, her next part of life.  It was a strangely indeterminate book in some ways, but enjoyable.  It’s the first part of a trilogy and I can’t quite see where the rest will go, but I have them, so we’ll see at some point.  ACTUAL BOOK.)
5.   Twin Oaks, by Anne Logan (Harlequin SuperRomance, 1993)
(At the just leaving height of my mega meltdown about BREXIT and this country in general, I became suddenly, one day, able to read stories again, instead of just the news.  For some reason, this massively establishment story of ‘tightening our belts’ and laying off loads of people from a country club, to save the country club – but of course, the manager, under the eye of a Good Woman, learned a kindler, gentler, less abrasive way of doing things by the end…for some reason, it was all very practical and comforting.  I got the feeling that despite the larger meltdown of structures, in this country, and in the wider world – were I Biblical, I would be idly wondering about the ‘last days’, what with all the ‘
blood rain’ prophesied this evening, on top of everything else…but I’m not, so I’m just pissed off [HIGHLY] at living in Interesting Times.  Give me Boring Times, any day of the week.  I am not a twit.  Boring is better.  I see no excellent revolution of green and lefty wonderment coming from all this poo going on domestically and worldwide [axing people on trains in Bavaria – a refugee, a near child, I ASK YOU!!!]…so I see that its best to either [a] become a politician = no chance; I sincerely think the average person on the street is really weird and difficult to talk to about anything other than the weather, or [b] do my best within my small world and Be Kind, Try To Do Good Stuff…and keep an eye on the larger stuff.  I am the Sea, not only the Wave – don’t get seasick.

Now: you may think this review had NOTHING to do with this book at all: but it truly did.  This kindly book, with its small but large scale relevant story of trying to save something worth saving, and learning to do it in a nicer way, and be a bit less prideful…oh…that is relevance to the max, hidden in  an escapist read.  EXCELLENT book, I recommend it to all despairing of Happy Endings.  If we can write it, we can work it in real life.  I hope.  ACTUAL BOOK.)

And that's it for now.  A bit of love and hope to get us through the axe murdering and zenophobia and general nutteriness of the world as it presents itself to me currently.  Read more good things that cheer and nourish, and try to be kind as well as right!  I'll be back when I next have something to post that's ready.  Love to you all; all 2 or so of you :-)