Friday, February 18, 2022

Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson


Meet Me in the Margins

A light-hearted read is ideal sometimes, don’t you think? And what's not to love about a book about writing and editing books?

Let’s begin with the summary:

You’ve Got Mail meets The Proposal—this romance is one for the books.

Savannah Cade’s dreams are coming true. The Claire Donovan, editor-in-chief of the most successful romance imprint in the country, has requested to see the manuscript Savannah’s been secretly writing while working as an editor herself—except at her publishing house, the philosophy is only highbrow works are worth printing and commercial fiction, particularly romance, should be reserved for the lowest level of Dante’s inferno. But when Savannah drops her manuscript during a staff meeting and nearly exposes herself to the whole company—including William Pennington, new publisher and son of the romance-despising CEO herself—she races to hide her manuscript in the secret turret room of the old Victorian office.

When she returns, she’s dismayed to discover that someone has not only been in her hidden nook but has written notes in the margins—quite critical ones. But when Claire’s own reaction turns out to be nearly identical to the scribbled remarks, and worse, Claire announces that Savannah has six weeks to resubmit before she retires, Savannah finds herself forced to seek the help of the shadowy editor after all.

As their notes back and forth start to fill up the pages, however, Savannah finds him not just becoming pivotal to her work but her life. There’s no doubt about it. She’s falling for her mystery editor. If she only knew who he was.

And now, my review:

The heroine is an assistant acquisitions editor at a publishing company, as well as an aspiring author. What fun roles! I found these jobs relatable, and I think readers will like the behind-the-scenes elements of a writers’ life.

Her family is a passel of overachievers, so she cannot fail. Their opinions push her to try to measure up. Of course she can’t. Part of her never wanted to. That contradiction sabotages her. Readers may find themselves relating: do we be ourselves or try to be what we think others want? 

I loved the author’s fun voice. We’re in first person, present tense—my favorite. We get some snark, lots of humor, and an unfortunate opening situation, (which tone I’m glad didn’t carry forward into the rest of the book).

The hero is icy and all business, authoritative. What's behind his fa├žade? If he ever opens up, what will we find? How fun it will be to watch him melt. Also, can he champion her? And what will it mean to her if he ever does?

The setup for this novel’s mystery is delicious. They grow closer by passing notes. We have an editor who gives honest, even blunt, feedback. You gotta respect someone like that. After her defensiveness wears off, she does. She’s lost and earnest. He’s experienced and willing to help. A perfect team.

I laughed aloud several times while reading this novel. Just what I needed during the pandemic. A treat. I’ll watch for more books by this author.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Aspen Crossroads by Janine Rosche

Aspen Crossroads by Janine Rosche

I have really enjoyed reading Janine’s work, so I gladly picked up a copy of this story. Because I don’t read summaries first, (always trying to dodge spoilers), I was in for a surprise. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

To protect those most vulnerable, Haven Haviland must trust her heart—and her regrets—to a mysterious newcomer in this moving contemporary romance.

Few in the community of Whisper Canyon have actually met Jace Daring, a handsome recluse who lives at Aspen Crossroads, the farm at the edge of town. But that doesn't stop the rumors about the multiple women who live with him. He must protect the truth—that his farm-to-table restaurant will provide new livelihoods for women rescued from human trafficking—or he risks the safety and futures of those relying on him. But he can't do it alone.

Haven Haviland has always been everyone's safe place to fall until one mistake closes her counseling practice and leaves her open to the town's gossip. Trusting men has gotten her in trouble before. However, accepting Jace's job offer to mentor the rescued women seems like the perfect way to right her wrongs.

When the mayor's campaign to clean up Whisper Canyon targets Aspen Crossroads, the restaurant comes under fire, dangers from the women's pasts are awakened, and Haven's sins are exposed for all to see. Jace would sacrifice himself to save Haven and the women under his care, but his efforts might not be enough. And in the end, it might not be the women most in need of saving after all.

And now, my review:

If authors include their author notes/letters at the beginning of a book, I read them first. As a fellow novelist, I enjoy seeing behind the scenes and learning something about the writer—sometimes it’s about their process, sometimes, their inspiration. (I also read the acknowledgments, just for fun!)

Janine’s author letter provided a warning. She lets readers know the story deals with sexual assault and sex trafficking, but that she handles those topics in a less gritty way than reality. I appreciated this foreknowledge, and because I’m sensitive to some reader topics, I immediately considered letting the publisher know I wouldn’t be reading for review after all.

Instead, I began reading the story, a bit warily. This is book one in a new series, with four siblings’ lives to explore. That’s a great set-up for a connected series. Having read (and loved) Janine’s Madison River series, I thought I was in for more of the same. This book takes on edgier topics than I expected to face.

The heroine longs for a haven. The hero longs to help victims. I sympathized with each of them and rooted for them in their causes. However, given the impending tough topics, I found myself on edge while reading and decided to move on to other books in my TBR pile. 

I’ve read other books with those topics—two titles come to mind. In those, I appreciated how we stayed a bit distant from the darkness. These are timely topics, of course, and there’s value in exploring these issues in fiction. However, the dread of what was possibly coming inhibited my enjoyment.

If the remaining books in this series deal with the same topic, I may need to pass. I don’t mind realism in my fiction, but being on edge robs my enjoyment.

For readers who like edgier topics, this may be the perfect fit. I definitely plan to investigate further work by this author as her novels are standouts.