Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Taking the Sour with the Sweet

When innocuous pleasures come with bite.

In any kind of women's fiction, there will be times when a writer deals with a subject that is challenging.  For different people different things will press the wrong buttons.  I found this some weeks ago when I forced myself to read a romance that dealt with infidelity.  As I half expected, I struggled with  it.  It was a well written book and I vaguely thought that if it were well written, (it's been nominated for awards), I wouldn't find it so difficult. I did find it extremely difficult to finish.  I kept reading, hoping that somehow I would feel better about it by the end.  Technically I should have.  The subject was dealt with sensitively and realistically.  It still made me nauseous.

This week I've read two books on topics that press emotional hot buttons for me.  The first is The Tycoon Millionaire's Secret Daughter by Susan Meier.  It deals with alcoholism, a subject I had considerable experience of as a child.  What are the chances of picking up a romance novel, a reunion story of course, because I love reunions, and finding the hero not only has the same addiction as my father, but shares the same surname. That was bound to press a few buttons.

Max Montgomery reacted badly ten years ago when a family secret exploded in his face and he turned to alcohol to help him through.  His marriage to Kate suffered as for three years he became more and more violent and out of control.  While he never actually hit Kate, her fears multiplied when she realised she was carrying a child.  Afraid of the power wielded by the Montgomery clan she fled.

The Tycoon's Secret Daughter by Susan Meier

Four Stars ****

Seven years later she is back in town for a family crisis and meets Max accidentally.  The existence of his daughter is revealed immediately and both Kate and Max have to deal with it.  Max has been sober since not long after Kate's leaving gave him a wake up call.  Will the stress of finding himself a father, and the emotional issues involved in meeting his ex-wife, the anger at finding she hid his child from him, send him back into the spiral?

For Kate, it is all about trust and guilt.  She doesn't feel she can trust the man who let her down so badly but she feels a sense of guilt about keeping her daughter away from the little girls father.  She wants to be fair, but it becomes even harder when she realises her feelings for Max may just still be lurking.

I admit I found the first chapters worrying as Max struggled with his anger at his wife's betrayal.  Then the lessons he learned over the years with AA started to kick in.  Lessons about responsibility and about asking forgiveness.

The challenges this couple face are heart wrenching at times when you realise how much everyone has missed out on over the years because of Max's weakness.  They have both changed and grown stronger because of the circumstances they've had to deal with.  By the end I had a very positive feeling about the future of this little family.  Susan Meier has done a wonderful job bringing these very real but wounded characters to life.

How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart (Harlequin Romance #4270)

Four Stars ****

The second book is How a Cowboy Stole her Heart by Donna Alward  which is the story of a young woman recovering from treatment and surgery for breast cancer after a year away.  It's emotive for me as it is only a little over a year since my sister-in-law, a truly beautiful person, died of untreated breast cancer.  This is a reunion story of sorts as well, friends to lovers.  Clay and Megan shared a special friendship as children after Clay's dad died of cancer and his mother abandoned the family during his long illness.  So when Megan developed breast cancer, this was going to trigger a few hot buttons for Clay.  He's decided that marriage was not an option considering his own experiences so when he realises his feelings for his buddies little sister are more than friendly, he isn't going to be happy.

Megan of course has loved Clay since before she really understood what love is.  But now that she is a cancer risk, along with the difficulties the chemo might mean for having a family, she's put those dreams aside.  Instead she's going to build a different dream, a riding school that will give her a future and help her struggling family ranch.

Funny thing is that Clay is the only one who takes her dream seriously.  Seriously enough to bankroll it when other finance isn't forthcoming.  Now Megan has to deal with Clay as a sleeping partner in her business, tied to him through their financial agreement.

It takes quite a bit to convince both these stubborn people where their destiny lies.  Donna Alward writes a sensitive and sweet romance that deals with the issues without overwhelming us with the tragedy of the subject matter.  I really enjoyed it and will look out for the other stories set in Larch Valley.


  1. Hi,
    I have just read your book reviews on Susan Meier's book and Donna Alward new book and enjoyed reading both reviews. It is a reason for me to buy them because I love such stories that are seeded with hope and real life.

    1. Hope you enjoy them. They are both lovely stories. Thanks.

  2. Hi Fiona!

    Trust you to say it like it is! I also wondered in The Tycoon's Secret Daughter- would I forgive and forget if my partner was an alcoholic and aggressive like the hero was?

    But the story dealt with trust and relationships. And the writer, Susan Meier, did full justice to the difficult subject. She made us like the hero towards the end!

  3. I just read your review of the Soraya Lane book. I can only really remember one category romance novel with infidelity that was okay for me, but the hero cheated a very long time ago, they broke up and the story picks up when they're forced back into each other's lives for some reason. I can't remember much of the plot now (I think I read it over 10 years ago). I'd have a very difficult time with an adultery plot that has to be resolved in a week. I hope this isn't going to be a trend! (Award nominations! Really???)

    1. It is a well written book and sensitively written. But adultery is a deal breaker for me. The ick factor is too high and I read romance for pleasure. I guess your mileage may vary. I just read a blog comment page where everyone was getting hysterical because they believe condom use should be compulsory and therefore mentioned. The naysayers were few and far between. The majority wouldn't like my books.