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What I’ve been reading.

Recently, I finished rereading an old favorite book and another book that was recommended to me.

I’ll start with the new to me book.

Julie and Romeo, by Jeanne Ray (2000) tells the story of two lovers, both in their sixties, discovering second chance love. They own rival florist shops, and their families have hated each other for two generations although none of them know why. Recognize the story line? Yep, it’s Romeo and Juliet or at least in theory it should be. I don’t think it really follows the source material exactly but that’s okay since in the source material everyone dies. 

Would I recommend the book? No. The main character is weak. Yeah, she’s sixty, divorced, a grandmother with two adult daughters one of which is doing extremely well financially and emotionally and the other trying to reinvent herself after a failed marriage. The heroine, Julie, is just so passive. She refuses to stand up to her adult daughters and their meddling, she allows her ex-husband to waltz back into her life, criticizing her relationship with Romeo (remember, families hate each other for some unknown reason), and her floral business (he ran it and then left her for a younger woman), and what does she do? She rolls over doesn’t even really respond to his or eve her daughter’s criticism and just trudges on. 

I dislike heroines like this. I want a heroine with a backbone, one with some moxie who will stand up for herself. Yeah, sure the heroine of any book has to learn and change for the better. That whole story arc. I get that. But this character, even in the end, she is willing – more than willing – to give up her lover Romeo because his adult children don’t like her. 

Geez! Get a life.

The other book I recently read was Nora Roberts, Brazen Virtue.

I read this year ago back in the ‘80’s. Of course, through numerous moves and clean outs my copy is long gone, so when I got my first e-reader (Kindle in 2011) this was the first book I purchased and reread.

I had sort of forgotten about this book until the latest drama in ‘Romanceland’ started to trend on social media. For details – just google NoraRoborts:AlyssaMilana and you’ll can dip your toe in that quagmire.

But what about the book? It’s dated: no cell phones, lots cigarette smoking, sexist language, and somewhat misogynistic attitudes. Sounds like a gem, right?! Hey! Nora Roberts writes a good story and this, although maybe some wouldn’t consider it her best, it’s still a stellar read. And it’s all because of the heroine. She’s young – maybe thirty? And she self-possessed, determined and confident. Sure, she has much to learn (that whole story arc again!) but she does so by not taking any ‘crap’ from anyone but from living by her own code of what is good for her. When her estranged sister is murdered she takes it upon herself to find the killer while embarking on a love affair with the detective assigned to the case. I like a strong, determined heroine who has the moxie to stand up for herself; and, more so, the introspection to recognize when she’s wrong and also care about others. Sounds like a perfect package . . . well maybe it is. It is however, one reason I’ll read (and rebuy!) a book while others get tossed into the donate box in the basement. A strong heroine gets me every everytime.

Keep reading.

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