All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Modern Heart by Belinda Williams

on December 18, 2015

Modern HeartModern Heart (City Of Love #3)
Belinda Williams
Momentum (Pan Macmillan AUS)
2015, 246p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Limited time only: Dream career! Perfect man! The catch? Emotional availability.

Scarlett Wong has a reputation for toughness. A talented and often feared Creative Director at an award-winning Sydney advertising agency, she doesn’t do relationships, she doesn’t invite men home, and she never stays the night. The only people who see her softer side are her three closest girlfriends, and they’re finally convinced they’ve found her perfect man: John Hart.

Scarlett’s never been one to back down from a challenge and she’s not going to start now. But when John secures Scarlett an invitation from one of New York’s leading galleries to exhibit her artwork, it means putting herself out there like never before. Scarlett’s perfect man wouldn’t interfere in her life like this – would he?

For a woman who thinks she’s not scared of anything, Scarlett is about to discover she’s not as tough as she thinks. Will she take the chance to turn her secret passion into a career, risk the safety of her advertising career, and let John in? Or will old habits die that little bit too hard?

This is the third in the City of Love series, each book focusing on a different girl from a tightknit group of four friends. I really enjoyed the first book….the second book was okay but I thought Scarlett’s story might be interesting as she’s a very different type of character for what would usually present in a romance-type novel. To be bluntly honest, Scarlett is a bit nasty. She has a razor sharp tongue and she’s not afraid to use it, she tends to keep people at arms length and she doesn’t do relationships. I found her somewhat difficult in the earlier novels when she wasn’t the focus. I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d go with her being the main character.

Scarlett’s potential love interest John was introduced in earlier books. He’s 25, so five years younger than her, half-Chinese and half-Australian, surfs and works as an architect. John on paper, doesn’t seem particularly suited to Scarlett and she is attempting to distance herself from him because John seems the ‘type’ to want an exclusive relationship and Scarlett perhaps feels she’d have difficulty being her usual aloof self with John.

I didn’t connect with Scarlett anymore in this book than I did in previous books when she was only a supporting character. I was hoping for deeper meanings behind her abrasive nature and I think the ‘Tiger Mom’ scenes from her childhood were a bit of a start but there were times when Scarlett was just so savage to people that honestly, it made it hard to really see anything from her point of view. She treats people horribly, even her so-called friends and her treatment of John makes you wonder if he was some sort of masochist glutton for punishment, hanging around to be her verbal punching bag. John as a character didn’t do too much for me either unfortunately – he came off as somewhat flawless (apart from his background which felt clumsily executed and lacking in any real genuine explanation) and like this sort of guardian angel, popping at up at random intervals throughout the book to orchestrate or facilitate wondrous things.

The strength was Scarlett’s journey as she learned to embrace who she was truly meant to be and developed the confidence to truly place faith in her art. She’d been pushed, pulled and shaped as a child and had chosen a degree which earned their disapproval, meaning Scarlett was on her own. However, she’d still chosen a degree with financial stability and Scarlett’s upbringing meant that she found it very difficult to let go of that safety net and have confidence that her artistic ability could be enough. Learning that she didn’t have to push people away and that fulfilling relationships did exist – in fact, they were all around her. I also enjoyed the evolution of her friendship with Cate, the fourth woman in the group and I really want to read her story because some interesting groundwork was laid in this story when Scarlett and Cate were confiding in each other. It felt like Scarlett was finally giving something of herself to the friendships, likewise in her interactions with Madeline.

The romance in this just didn’t really do it for me, I found Scarlett too difficult in the beginning to believe that someone would keep patiently hanging around her waiting for the scraps she threw his way. She really had no filter and didn’t seem to care how hurtful some of her words and actions could be. John felt too much of a doormat at times and the one time he did seem to grow a backbone I am not sure I could get behind his reasons for doing what he did.


Book #185 of 2015


Modern Heart is book #75 of my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2015

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