6/11/07

Somebody to Love (2004)

By Kate Rothwell

Want to read the blurb? Click here.

How can this be? I read a book! One in printed format, not in Word and in need of corrections or suggestions!

I read Somebody Wonderful back in October, just after I'd "met" Kate Rothwell. She was the first person to read my initial draft for Serenade, and she's the first author I knew as a person before reading her stuff. How cool is she? She's great -- always poking me in the ear to get my subs to more folks.

Now the weird thing about this novel is that, before reading a word, I knew the story of its ill-conceived conception. Can a readable book be written in a month of duress? Hell yes, if it's this one.

Somebody to Love is better than its predecessor, if only for the rapid maturity of Rothwell's narrative style. The terse prose and tendency to rush past the emotional moments are gone, replaced by a more balanced combination of elegant writing and fast-moving scenes.

Araminta has more emotional foibles as the heroine than in her previous role as the heroine's friend, fleshing out the depth of her character but also stripping some of her strength. In Somebody Wonderful, she IS a wonder -- all sass and smarts, dragging Timona out of harm's way. Here, under the influence of Griffin's magnificent magnetism, she flounders. She has been strong, but she wants to be cherished.

While I could have used with more of the superwoman and less of the swooning, I appreciated her lack of huffy indignation in the face of reactions to her mulatto heritage. Bigots live in the world, they lived in her world of late 19th century New York, and she deals with them. But she can't deal with Griffin the same way. She's almost anesthetized to that sort of treatment until he comes along. His accidental hurts are more painful than any hundred intentionally bigoted comments. And damn, she completely loses her ability to fight back when he's within ten feet. The girl would have needed a restraining order to get her head on straight. (Also, I wonder why she referred to her mother as Charlotte?)

Griffin buys her pearls. I fell for that. What a sap I am. But he is a doofus as well, which most heroes are. Because he admires Araminta's resemblance to a fantastic whirlwind of sharp-tongued spite, he cannot imagine why she's tongue-tied around him. And then he just wants to kiss her, which also involves tongues. He is a fantastically stoic guy who doesn't even know that he'd like to smile a bit more. Essentially an uncomplicated creature, one who used to love but turned off that emotion because of an old hurt, his thaw entertained me more than Araminta's struggles with sappitude.

I wanted to pinch Olivia. In that regard, I probably shared Araminta's point of view. I could have used more Solly. Made me sad he only had one scene, but I was glad to see none of an author's standard "bring back the previous book's couple for no reason" technique.

Aside from a moment or two of minor idiocy (revealing Griffin's identity to Olivia; going back for the pots and pans) Araminta is a savvy character in possession of steady self-awareness, strong loyalties, and one big ass weakness -- the hero. Griffin is a tightwad who learns to loosen up, recognizing the potential he has for hurting others in his quest for control and cool. Together, like Mack and Timmy in the first book, these two are romance characters you can get behind. They never treat each other like crap... only to make up at the end. They stand by each other even before the "I love you"s. And this time around, Rothwell added to the physical heat, which made for a more poignant union.

Somebody to Love is a grown-up's romance. In an age of Ben's Wildflower and Claiming the Courtesan controversies, it's a shame that an emotional, satisfying book like this can be lost in the shuffle.

1 comment:

Kate R said...

thanks for the review, ms. carrie!

and boo, hiss, on you not advancing at samhain.