Love, In Writing
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Margaret Parker is a hopeless romantic who writes romance novels. She also owns a bookstore named Happy Endings and she only stocks books that contain a happy ending. One night at her cousin’s party, which was themed, she finds herself sharing an elevator with a powerfully attractive man who seems to mistake her for a stalker. He accuses her of trying to trap him in the elevator for wicked times and although Margaret can’t deny that she finds him attractive, she’s utterly appalled at the way in which he accuses her and the fact that he seems to believe that she knows who he is and has deliberately tracked him down. Margaret has no idea and it isn’t until some time later that someone fills her in on who he is.
Graham Connelly is a science fiction writer and he relishes in the fact that it gives him the perfect outlet for the way in which he feels about the world. He doesn’t believe in romance, or so-called happy endings and when he sees an attractive woman in a very lowcut dress in his elevator, he assumes that she’s one of his many devoted fans who will go above and beyond to meet him in person. But Margaret isn’t one of his devoted fans and every time the two of them are thrown together, sparks fly. Both romantic sparks and angry ones!
Both Margaret and Graham have found in each other the perfect motivation for their new books and also an attraction that could lead to something truly magical. But Graham and Margaret both want drastically different things – Margaret wants the truly happy ever after, the marriage and children. Graham, although he wants to be with Margaret, doesn’t want that. He doesn’t really believe in it, he thinks it’s just something that writers throw into romance books to make people dream. Can two people with such different dreams and opinions find a way to meet in the middle?
When I was a teenager I read a lot of Mills & Boon novels and they were mostly the “Sexy” imprint which featured foreign very heavyhanded men and pretty doormat-like heroines. I used to love the Rafaels and the Dominics and the Sheik Whoevers but now, I find that sort of dominant, Alpha male drives me nuts. I find myself growing irrationally furious at the book and the stupid heroine who lets these men walk all over her without standing up for herself of tell him to, quite frankly, go and f!@#k himself. They’re always borderline verbally abusive, overly arrogant and even though they get brought to their knees in the end, its pretty hard to get through the first 3/4 of the book where they believe the heroine is a gold digger/slept with a relative/etc.
If I was a teenager who still liked those more Alpha heroes, I’d probably have loved this book.
But I’m not anymore. And the scene in which Graham steps into the elevator and finds Margaret waiting there in her low cut dress because she’s been to (I think) a tarts and vicars party, and he immediately assumes she’s a devoted fan who has found out where he lives and schemed her way in to bed him, is mind-mindbogglingly infuriating. Margaret just stands there, gaping like a wet fish while he accuses her of stalking him and demands to know how she found, him, etc. He’s very overbearing and if anything, this book taught me something. Whilst I like an Alpha hero, I generally like him to be Alpha with everyone but the heroine. There are some instances in this book, later on, where Graham rides roughshod over other people, most especially a bitchy cousin of Margaret’s who really does deserve it. And it’s kind of awesome. But at the same time, why should it be Graham that puts her in her place when the person she is horrible to, is Margaret? Because her cousin was “family”, Margaret allowed her to treat her like dirt. Family doesn’t get a pass for that, Margaret. Just because you share some blood, doesn’t mean you need to stand there like an idiot while she belittles you or sells tales about you to the press. Grow a darn backbone and stand up for yourself. You’re a grown woman (of apparently some 50 novels).
Also, the paparazzi in South Africa must be really bored if they’ve nothing better to do than sit outside a science fiction author’s home day and night. I’m not even sure George R.R Martin or Steven King would be subjected to that!
Despite the fact that I didn’t much care for either Graham or Margaret, I do think Elsa Winckler has an engaging writing style. I liked that she chose both her characters to be writers at the sort of opposite ends of the spectrum. Both Graham and Margaret have some preconceived ideas or prejudices about the others writing genre which is interesting, because they’ve never really read it. In the novel they end up reading each other’s books and finding things in them that they really love. Winckler also takes an opportunity to score one up for the romance writers and readers, defending the genre by having Margaret speak at a college writing class and shoot down some questions that seem to regard romance writing in a derogatory fashion. She peppers her responses with some facts, such as the number of romance books sold, etc and the revenue it rakes in. For a genre that sells so well, it’s not uncommon for the many people who buy these books to have to defend why they read it. I thought it was a nice little touch, defending romance within a romance.
Book #273 of 2013