I’m once again reading a lot of lesbian romance – I can’t seem to help myself, I blame my kindle.
Hotshot business woman Carmen Delallo and travel agent Judith O’Shea meet at a travel convention. The attraction is instant and palpable but Carmen is not as forthcoming with some information as Judith might have wished for and they part ways again. Only, neither is able to forget the encounter and now they have to see if they can build a relationship despite the many miles seperating them.
KG MacGregor wrote one of my favorite romances with The House on Sandstone. While I think it’s also her best (of those I’ve read, at least), Out of Love is certainly an entertaining and satisfying read as well. MacGregor has the ability to elicit something life-like from her characters, something so raw that it reminds you of the people you know and sometimes of the person you are. Her characters’ problems are real people-problems and that’s one thing I especially like in her writing.
The story has some interesting twists and Carmen and Judith’s journey takes us from New York to Chicago and back, and forth, and back again as this story shows how difficult it is to love a place and a person at the same time.
Family is also another important factor and a recurring theme in MacGregor’s writing. And something else I cherish in it. Really, there are few things that I don’t like about her writing and I can’t even think of a single one right now. So I just gonna tell you to read this because it’s good. I liked it – a lot.
When Carly Griffin comes home on a vacation to Leland, Kentucky, she expects everything to be just how it always was: smalltown-ish, small minded and too small for her ambitions. But meeting her high school crush Justine Hall for the first time in twenty-five years changes a lot of things, most of all Carly herself. Suddenly smalltown, Kentucky is not the worst place to be – if it weren’t for some unresolved issues in Justine’s family.
The fact that I have so far read this book four times this year should give you a clue whether I like it or not. I do. In fact, it is one of my favorite romances ever – and I have to admit that I have read A LOT of romances. So, why is this one so special?
It really is a conglomeration of things that I really like and love that makes this book so good. It has two sympathetic main characters who are tied down by bonds they made through life. Their families play an important role in their lives which is not always an easy burden to bear. There is angst, there are problems but there is also the joy of two people meeting after a long time and realizing that the spark is still there.
With Carly and Justine it seems like they are continuing a conversation they had twenty-five years ago, just as they continue a kiss that changed both their lives. It is heart-warming to watch them rekindle their love but also some fears that cannot just be brushed aside. MacGregor has an unerring feel for human frailty, Justine’s feelings of guilt are so well written that one wants to reach out and hug her. We kind of do through Carly who proves an even better friend than Justine could have wished.
The one thing I cannot get over is that these two women are good people. They help out when someone needs them, they care deeply about their families and friends. The fact that there are things that might keep them apart makes the reader blink their eyes in confusion saying: but they are perfect for each other. And indeed they are. Here is a couple you want to see together because it just feels right. This might be a convention – at least we are told that it is so in every romance novel – but I don’t feel like it is because there are actually very few couples in romances that I feel so strongly MUST be together.
Lately, I’ve come to think about the way we read, how we perceive the same text differently, how we interpret through reading and come to such different outcomes. When I say, this is one of my favorite romances (actually it is one of two favorites and I will probably review the other one shortly) I am aware that others might not feel so strongly. And you should be aware of this also. But I do think this is very much worth your time whether it will become one of your favorites or not. It is well written and it is about life.
You may have noticed that I am reading a lot of lesbian romance these days (the latest trend is re-reads). It all comes down to light reading while I try to figure out my life, so bear with me.
KG MacGregor is another one of my favorites. I have read her when we were both still xenites and fanfiction-writers and have picked her up again when some of my favorite fanfictions came out as book. Just This Once is not one of those (fanfictions) but still worth a read. A synopsis:
Paula McKenzie and Wynne Connelly meet at the Weller Regent in Orlando, Florida, where Paula works as shift manager and Wynne attends to business bi-monthly. The chemistry is there from the beginning and their path follows that of many a couple who find themselves in a good place with another human being. They flirt, they date, they have sex. Unfortunately, Wynne is not entirely honest with Paula and the two part ways, Wynne coming to live in Orlando while Paula resettles in Denver at another hotel of the same chain. But their paths cross again and they realize that they cannot stop thinking about each other. When Paula comes back to Orlando, Wynne starts wooing her and in the end – as it must be – they profess their love for each other.
What I like about MacGregor’s writing is her understanding of the intricacies of the human emotion, feelings of guilt and resignation. Her characters are not glossy super-models with no attachments apart from the one they are meant to be with. Things get messy sometimes and there is no easy way out of some attachments.
In this novel, MacGregor withholds some information about one of her characters and thus surprises the readers as well as the other woman. I will not disclose how she does this (’cause I don’t want to spoil it for you) but it was certainly something I did not see coming. I am not entirely sure that this was a good strategy though the effect certainly baffles. But I find that sometimes there is too much afford put into an effect while consequences are deliberately overlooked. The consequence here might be that one of the characters is less sympathetic than one might wish. MacGregor has to change pace here, has to go back and explain and this might rattle the reader – it did me the first time I read it and I was not very happy about it.
Still, I came back to the novel because it is well written though I am still a little more partial to the beginning than the second part. The chemistry between Paula and Wynne is delicious and they wrestle their way through the circumstances of life to be together – just like the heroines of a romance should.