Saturday, March 15, 2008

Attack Of The Normies

Brace yourselves, I'm about to say something really unpopular amongst romance readers. Ready? Sometimes I get really tired of the "fantasy." You know, how every romance hero has to be a Duke, vampire, tycoon or Navy SEAL. Which might explain why when I'm reading category romance I tend to gravitate towards Silhouette Special Edition and Harlequin SuperRomance. Because they're stories about "normies." Characters who feel authentic and real.

Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the escapist fantasy, and I understand a great many readers have the "normie" at home. So why would they want to read about him? For me? Personally? There's something very appealing about a nice, dependable, normal guy trying to figure out how the heck to tell a nice, dependable normal woman that he adores her. I know, I'm silly.

I don't just suspect, but I know, this is why Karen Templeton's latest trilogy for SSE has worked so fantastically well for me. Her characters are "real." Sure, they've made mistakes. Sure, life hasn't been all sunshine and roses - but they behave like adults. And dang, grown-ups are sexy.

Baby, I'm Yours is the last in the Vaccaro family series, and this time around black sheep, Kevin, is the one getting blindsided by love. A recovering alcoholic, and former drug user, Kevin has spent the last year stone cold sober and putting his life back together. But he has unfinished business in New Mexico. He left a girl behind, Robyn, who was also a user. Kevin couldn't convince her to go to rehab, and he had reached the point where he wanted help. So he left her to get himself clean. He feels badly about this, even though he really shouldn't (I subscribe to the school of thought that the addict has to want to help themselves). So now, a year later, Kevin returns to New Mexico to check in on Robyn, only to get the shock of his life. When he left, she was pregnant with his baby.

Pippa has been raised for the last six months by Robyn's father, self-help guru Victor Booth, and his oldest daughter, Julianne. Julie lost her husband and unborn child in a car accident, and when her father finds out Robyn is pregnant, he asks for her help. They force Robyn into rehab, watch her like a prison guard, and Pippa is born healthy and happy. Unfortunately, her baby girl wasn't enough to keep Robyn off of drugs, and she eventually dies in an accident while she's high.

Needless to say, Kevin doesn't get the warmest reception. Victor Booth is determined to blame someone for Robyn's troubles. It's up to Julie to tell Kevin he has a daughter, and once she does, Kevin is determined to prove to the Booths' he's a changed man.

Baby, I'm Yours is just as fantastic as the first two books in this series. Kevin is a man determined to prove himself, and along the way he finds himself helping a shell-shocked Julie move on with her life. Julie's essentially been in shutdown mode since the death of her family. Her father, while saying all the right things in his career as a therapist, has never been able to say the right things to his own children. Kevin's arrival on the scene is not only a threat to him losing his granddaughter, but he really begins to worry when he sees a spark between Kevin and Julie.

What is so admirable about this book, and in the other books in this series, is that it would have been so easy for Templeton to give us cliches. How easy it would have been for Julie to be a shrew towards Kevin, or Victor to be the villain. Instead, she throws these three people together, and they have to learn to work together to figure out what is best for the child they all love so desperately.

So yeah, it might not be flashy and it might not have a brooding Greek tycoon who favors punishing, bruising kisses. Kevin is just a normal guy trying to fix his life, and along the way he falls in love with Julie. Which might sound boring to some readers, but in actuality is anything but.

Final Grade = A

Note: This is an April release, but is available now both in print and electronically at eHarlequin. I gots mine really early thanks to my kick-ass connections. Thanks girlie!


Alison Kent said...

I think I'm going to order all three of these. I love "normies," they're what I cut my romance reading teeth on.

azteclady said...

I want, I want, I want!

I've been tempted to get the three for a while, but you just tipped the balance, Wendy.


Rosie said...

As you know, I didn't have quite the same reaction as you did to the second of this trilogy, but it was a solid 'B' read for me. However, Ms. Templeton is a very competent writer and this sounds like a good story. I think I'll look for it.

Lori said...

Me? I like 'em all. The normies and the fantasies. Hey - I'm easy, what can I say? But I just finished the 2nd book in this series (thanks, Rosie!) and I did really really like it. A lot.

Jessica said...

I agree with Lori, I like them both. It really just depends on my mood on which type of guy I want to read about. I'm going to have to go out and get these. I'm appreciative of the recommendations...but I'm not sure my bank account is. :)

sybil said...

ok I was gonna bitch about not gettin a shout out and than it was all good.

sqqqqqqqquuuuueeeeeeeeee wasn't it fantastic?

I am gonna be ssquuuuuuuueeeeeingg about it like all month in April *g*

Yes! Get thee these books!

Rowena said...

Hmm, I think Holly has read Karen Templeton and loved her...she's going on my list.

I'm not sick of the fantasy but I do love reading about normal couples every once in a while, you know, "real" couples just like me, it gives me hope...=)