Monday, February 17, 2014

A January Bride by Deborah Raney

A January Bride

Let's begin with the summary:

What will happen when novelist Madeleine Houser’s “pen pal” friendship with a lonely widower takes an unexpected turn?

Who can work in a house that's overrun by contractors and carpenters? Not Madeleine Houser, a successful novelist who gladly accepts the help of her octogenarian friend, Ginny, to arrange for a temporary office in the charming bed and breakfast owned by Ginny's friend, Arthur. Maddie's never met the innkeeper - but a friendship grows between them as Maddie and Arthur leave messages for each other each day. To Maddie's alternate delight and chagrin, she seems to be falling for the inn's owner - a man who's likely many years her senior - and who she's never even met.

And now, my review:

Our heroine is a writer who desperately needs a quiet place to work. Our hero owns a B&B, which rarely has visitors since his wife’s death.

As a writer, I could relate with the longing to get away from the usual places for writing. So there was a sort of romance in the fact that this heroine got to visit a quiet B&B where she could write.

I liked that the heroine used a picture of the hero as her inspiration, without knowing it was him. I also enjoyed the "pen pal" aspect.

I respect this author and her work in the CBA marketplace. However, this story didn't work for me. As a reader, I sometimes find misunderstandings irritating, especially if one simple step could clear up the mess. That happened in this story and carried on for most of the tale. The hero didn’t take that simple step until two-thirds of the way through. Seemed common sense to me, which didn't help me respect him.

One element I expect from seasoned writers is that I’ll feel what the characters feel along with them—a difficult writing task. That wasn’t the case here. The heroine “acted” as if she cared for her mother, but never grieved the fact Mom didn’t recognize her. So, we didn’t feel (believe) either aspect. The heroine seemed too self-absorbed for readers to respect her or sympathize with her, in my opinion.

The few romantic elements felt contrived in this story. As I mentioned, a misunderstanding kept the hero and heroine apart and once it seemed they might possibly get together for even a page (screen in this e-book) or two, their interactions were muddled with confusion and loads of “skimmable” introspection. 

Overall the characters lacked layers, which meant readers might have a difficult time caring what happens to them and sympathizing with them. All the clichés were also jarring for this reader.  The author heroine explained (author intrusion) how conflict works in her writing, but then the conflict in the story felt contrived. There were POV issues, overused words, and telling instances. Besides the passionless romance, my main issues with the story were related to believability (in regards to character motivation, etc.). I believe in this series, but this book didn’t work for me. Still, I wish the author well.

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