Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book review: Emancipating Andie - by Priscilla Glenn

Have you ever finished reading a book and wanted to start it all over again?Have you ever read a book that’s touched your heart in such a way that even days after reading it you’re still thinking about it?

If you have, well, you know how I’m feeling right now, after reading Emancipating Andie by Priscilla Glenn. I’d fallen in love with the author’s debut novel Back To You (check out my review) and I’d been looking forward to reading more from her; although I didn’t want to cheat on Red & Del (the main characters in the book), I was looking forward to getting to know Andie and Chase.

I didn’t know what to expect, other than knowing I would surely like this book. When you like an author’s writing and the ability to stir emotions inside your heart only using words, you pretty much know whatever that author will write will be good.

I’ll be honest: before starting this book I was afraid. Yes, I was afraid I would be comparing it to Back To You, and I would end up being disappointed. I’m so glad I was wrong! These two books are totally different and they’re both wonderful in their own special way, with their own different characters and themes.
The story hooked me from the first chapter, ever since Andie and Chase first met in a wine cellar at an engagement party Andie had gone with her boyfriend, Colin. While snooping around the house she gets accidentally stuck in a wine cellar with the most annoying and sarcastic guy ever–yes, I'm talking about Chase–who also happens to be a close friend of Colin’s. I rolled my eyes and laughed during most of their banter. :-)

Fast forward seventeen months.

Colin and Andie have been invited to the wedding (in Florida) but when Colin has to leave a little earlier to take part in the preparations, Andie is left behind to drive down to Florida on her own. When Colin informs her that his friend Chase will be driving with her since he couldn’t find a flight to Florida, Andie knows her happy little dream of some quiet “me time” will probably turn into a nightmare. What she isn’t expecting though, is that this two-day road trip will make her change her mind about Chase and, most importantly, it will change her life forever.

Anyway, this is only a very quick summary of the story, because if I said more I’d spoil it for you but, trust me on this, it’s an amazing story.

Now, about the characters.

Well, it is impossible not to like Chase, so it goes without saying I fell for him ever since he entered the story. I loved him in the wine cellar, and I loved him even more as the story moved on. He’s so funny, a little wiseass sometimes, and he makes you want to scream and roll your eyes most of the times–but he’s gorgeous, so he’s easily forgiven. :-) Seriously though, the more I got to know him and see his real personality, the more I loved him. I love the author’s ability to create characters that are real and totally relatable, and at the same time they have so many different layers but, just like it happened with Del in Back To You, only the heroine gets to see the deepest layer, the one that wraps around the hero’s heart–and so does the reader, of course. And that’s when you fall in love with the hero, in spite of his flaws and his persona, because you know there’s so much more than what meets the eye.

At long last we get a hero that’s not a badass alpha male with drug and alcohol issues, who enjoys stomping all over women’s hearts just because. Chase is gorgeous in every imaginable way, and I’m so glad there are still authors who think the way I do: Prince Charming is still trendy, after all! :-)

Now, Andie. I rarely have much to say about the heroine and I don’t always relate to her–most of the times the heroine annoys me or I’m simply plain jealous because she gets the hero and her happily ever after and I’m left behind with a broken heart and dreamy eyes.I liked Andie from the very start. I was her. I felt her fears, her pain, her emotions and at times I wished I could jump into the book and hug her.
Andie is an aspiring writer–that’s one of the things that helped me relate to her.
All of her life she’s had dreams and aspirations, but she’s always followed her mother’s advice: “Love with your head, and you’ll be safe. Love with anything else, you find yourself in big trouble.” So she lives her life by the rules, never straying, always playing safe–that’s another thing we have in common. Colin makes her feel safe, and she thinks that’s what she wants, that he’s the perfect boyfriend for her. Until she meets Chase, and he opens her eyes to a whole new world, a world of spontaneity, adventure, freedom to be and do what you want, and her happy little bubble bursts.
I was Andie; in every single page of this book I saw things through her eyes, and when she got her happily ever after I suddenly felt as if I’d had it too. It’s been a while since a book has managed to capture my heart and touch my soul in such a way that I felt lost when I finished it.

The beautiful, flawless and strongly emotional writing hooked me from the beginning and kept me glued to the pages all through the book (and I was happy I was off work, so I didn’t have to put it down!). It kindled so many different emotions inside me that even now, three days after finishing the book, my heart still warms up if I think of it. This book has earned a VIP spot on my shelves (together with Back To You) and I will definitely re-read it.

Emancipating Andie is not only a romance novel, but it’s also a story about getting over fears and standing up for your dreams and aspirations. To live life the way you want to and not the way others expect you to. There’s a beautiful sentence by Dr. Seuss that Chase tells Andie while they’re in the car, and I think this summarizes the concept pretty well: “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”. I think this will become my motto from now on.
So yes, Emancipating Andie is about a beautiful love story, but it’s also about finding your real self and taking off the mask, to finally be who you want to be.

Follow my advice and go grab a copy. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book review - Their Newborn Gift by Nikki Logan

I don’t know how long this book has been in my Kindle. Their Newborn Gift belongs to a group of accidentally downloaded free books I’d forgotten about but that I will definitely keep and read again.

Since owning a Kindle I’ve mainly read books set in the US or in Canada, so when I read that this novel was set in Australia I have to admit I was quite intrigued. I’ve learned from experience never to build my expectations too high about new authors (new for me) if I don’t want to get disappointed, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the story.

By the end of chapter one I was totally hooked, desperate to know more and already falling for Reilly, the main character. When we first meet him, the first impression is: another player, and a rich one on top of it all–what a boring cliché. But as we get to know him better, the layers start falling, and little by little we get to see his heart and his personality, and it’s easy to understand why Lea fell for him in the first place.

It all started as a one-night stand (well, it was more like a one-full-day stand from what we’re told) and it resulted in an unwanted pregnancy, which Lea kept well hidden from Reilly, not wanting to ever meet him again. It’s only when their five-year-old daughter’s life is in danger because of a disease that’s slowly killing her, that Lea finds herself forced to reveal the secret to the man she’d never really forgotten but whom she’d tried to keep away from. The only way to save their daughter is through stem cells taken from the umbilical chord of a sibling, so Lea needs to have another baby from Reilly if she wants to save Molly. When Reilly is confronted with unexpected fatherhood and Lea’s request he’s obviously upset, and we get to see the worst part of him. He acts like a selfish jerk (I won’t tell you why, as it would spoil the fun of reading the story) and it’s no wonder that Lea doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. But as the three of them start interacting, and we get to witness some cute family moments, we also start to understand more about him and more about Lea’s past and her choice of keeping the baby a secret, and it all adds up in the end.

Is there a happy ending? Well, yes, there is a happy ending–if you’ve started to understand me, you know I’m a sucker for romance and happy endings, so I wouldn’t be writing this review if I hadn’t gotten my Happily Ever After. But in this book there is so much more than just the happy ending; the journey to get there is full of angst, anger, sadness, regrets, happy moments, in short of a big palette of emotions that will capture your heart all the way till the last page.

The bonus in all this is that the tangible chemistry between the two characters is achieved without any sex scenes. We’re never told what happened in that motel room five years before, and apart from a couple of passionate kisses, we don’t get to read more. But the chemistry between them is so strong that it doesn’t need to be described through graphic scenes. It’s all in the feelings and in the way they act, and this is such relief after this new fashion of putting steamy and very detailed sex scenes in a romance novel, just to keep the reader glued to the pages.

I might be the odd one, but after recently reading two novels with great reviews, where most of the book was about how much sex the two main characters had (and they did have a lot!), with very detailed descriptions as a bonus (honestly, could I care less about every single detail?) I’ve started wondering when the word “romance” became associated with “steamy sex”. I don’t recall reading steamy sex scenes in either Rosamunde Pilcher’s or Nicholas Sparks’ books, but I still loved those books to bits so I really don’t get why a good romance book can’t just be...romantic.

Anyway, I’m digressing here (although I’d really love to hear your opinion on this, because I know I sound like a prude right now, but I’m still the old-fashioned type of reader who likes a sweet, romantic story more than a steamy, sexy one, so I’d like to know if anyone out there shares my opinion on this). Going back to the story, like I said this is a sweet, emotional book, so if you like a good (clean) romance that will capture your heart and occasionally bring tears to your eyes, I think this might be the book you should pick as your next read.