I wasn’t really a reader of the traditional “romance” novel until about two years ago. I picked up a novel that sounded cute, discovered it was romance, and was kinda hooked on the genre. I know that it does set up false expectation of how love and romance function in the real world. In real life it is a mix of timing, chemistry, and yes, hard work that make relationships and love last. The meet-cute is not likely to happen in real life. No adoring looks across a crowded room. No bonding over some silly situation. No instant heat and chemistry. No perfect Prince Charming to sweep a damsel off her feet. But hell if it isn’t a damn hoot to read. For the time while I am reading that story I get to have a little fun, keep a little of the faith, and just let go for a bit into a world of romantic possibilities. Sometimes it’s nice to step away from the world at hand and just have something a little happy and a little romantic to lose myself in, when the real world isn’t so romantic. I mix it up with more serious reading, but I find a good romantic story line hard to put down. I oooh and ahhh, laugh, and find myself taking what I like to call the “Reading Vacation,” and I am not ashamed in needing to take one every once in a while.
My good friend and fellow blogger Steph at KitchenKM isn’t a huge fan of reading fiction, so when she recommended the book On the Island I was immediately intrigued knowing her recommendation wouldn’t have come easily. The premise does sound a tad salacious, as if The Blue Lagoon was mixed with The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. 30 year old teacher Anna Emerson is going for the summer to tutor TJ Callahan in the Maldives, where his family is vacationing. TJ is 16 years old and recently in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two travel together to the island, and what should be an uneventful trip turns into and unplanned struggle for survival when the pilot has a heart attack the two are stranded and forced to survive on a remote island. This story of survival and what appears to be a taboo romance is handled with heart and grace. Anna is not a cougar looking for her prey, but a woman who was looking for a change in her life and ends up with more than she bargained for when she must rely on the very student she came to tutor. TJ is a teenage boy who has had to grow up fast because of his cancer, and then again when thrown into this survival situation he must face adulthood and his growing feelings for his teacher. These two people only have each other, and bond while facing dangers in their struggle to live and survive. The romance is handled over the course of time, and I think that is what softens any taboo or salaciousness of the age difference and student/teacher rolls. The relationship is not fully realized or consummated until TJ is nearly 19. This romance isn’t a quick island romp, but built out of adversity and life and death struggles that shape the bond and eventual love for each other that develops between Anna and TJ. This is a fast paced read that kept me turning pages and explores the deepening of a relationship over the course of time between characters that felt honest to me. I am glad to say my initial expectations were wrong, and I enjoyed this wonderful romance.
Stephanie Plum is the sassy and feisty heroine in a series of Janet Evanovich novels following her
adventures misadventures as a bond enforcement agent, or bounty hunter. Recently having lost her job as a lingerie buyer, this plucky Jersey Girl must figure out how to come up with some cash, and turns to her dad’s cousin for work as a bounty hunter. Clearly not well-suited to this dangerous work, she somehow has a keen instinct to know when she should dig deeper into a mystery surrounding an FTA, i.e. Failure to Appear. Her first assignment is Joe Morelli, a vice cop seemingly turned killer who grew up in her neighborhood. The two have a colorful history and clearly strained feelings exist, but she must do all she can to get her man. With some help from Ricardo Carlos Manoso, otherwise known as Ranger, bounty hunter extraordinaire and mystery figure of male danger she lands herself in some rather dangerous situations along the way to getting to the bottom of things.
This series, which has a nineteenth book coming out, is funny, sexy, and lively. Stephanie is a regular girl who takes a job as a bounty hunter out of need, and lands in deep water time and time again. I have now read 6 books in the series and have enjoyed each of them. They have funny characters, like Lula a former prostitute who ends up going along with Stephanie on some of her FTA missions as the series progresses. Grandma Mazur is Stephanie’s funeral loving grandma, who seems as trouble prone as Stephanie. Even “Big Blue”, a tank of a Buick Roadmaster that Stephanie endures driving after she continually loses cars fires, bombs, and garbage trucks becomes kind of iconic in her world.
The back and forth flirtations/relationships she has with Morelli and Ranger are endearing, because what girl wouldn’t love having two sexy guys in their life. Watching her figure out her feelings as she goes after FTAs is amusing, because both men must continually keep her out of the trouble she seems to draw to her. She isn’t a damsel-in-distress, but she is definitely a girl who attracts trouble, and the two men in her life have to endure a lo.
I find myself going back to this series for enjoyable, light reads, with a bit of adventure and romance mixed in. Stephanie isn’t perfect, and that is what I love most. She goes in, does her thing, and somehow manages to make it out in the end. Her no holds barred approach is always amusing. I plan to continue reading the series and see what trouble our fearless bounty hunter finds herself in next.