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"Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker."--Unknown.

"I learned long ago that being Lewis Carrol was infinitely more exciting than being Alice."--Joyce Carol Oates

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Grin and Bear It by Leslie Lafoy


In a recent order from Harlequin I received Grin and Bear It by Leslie Lafoy as a gift. Grin and Bear It is from the Harlequin Next line that was launched in July 2005.

From the website:

"Harlequin NEXT books are about women looking for what's next in their lives. They are stories of women facing up to the glorious unpredictability of life."

"Harlequin Next's Gavin says chick lit focuses on women in the first stages of their lives. Next addresses the woman who is asking, "What more can I do?""

"...with Next, they seem to be trying to do for the middle-age market what chick lit has done for the 20- and 30-year-olds.""

Knowing this book was not my cup of tea I put it up for grabs to my readers and the Hellacious Holly decided she would bite. The following is Holly's review sent to me in an e-mail reprinted with her permission. Know that I have chopped Holly's responses for my own purposes (length and post), so please don't start attacking her for any misunderstandings or different viewpoints you may have.

How was the book?

I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5

Was it a romance? Did it have an HEA?

No, it's not...It was just a story, with no real point, romance or moral. At least not that I could tell.
What was the book about?

The heroine wakes up on a Monday morning to bad news. Her STBE (soon to be ex) has issued an ultimatumm. Either she gives him everything he's asking for in the property settlement or he's going to go after half of her business. From there, it just goes from bad to worse. Over the course of the day she's informed that her STBE's plane has gone down somewhere in the Montana mountains, the body is no where to be seen and it's very possible he was eaten by a bear.

Sucks for him but it sounds to me like all of her problems just ended.

...she finds out that he had a huge life insurance policy and she was the beneficiary, even though he'd left her for a stripper named Pammy.

And the problem is?

...an insurance fraud investigator shows up and says she's his prime suspect for having done her STBE in. While he's there harassingg her, Pammy the Stripper shows up and demands the insurance money, the Pasta Maker and the Fondue set, all the things the STBE promised her she'd get when the divorce was final.

HAHAHA. The Pasta Maker and the Fondue set!

A few days later at the memorial service, Pammy the Stripper shows up in a bright pink, one piece jumpsuit made of lycra and a black feather boa (wearing 6 inch heels, no less) and her and the heroine get into an actual fist fight, right in the funeral parlor. Then the heroine finds a crap load of cash in her and her STBE's safe deposit box, along with a disk for Pammy the Stripper that spouts poetic about her skills in the bedroom and says the money is for her start over again with should something happen to him. She takes the disk to a college kid to have one of the files on it opened (because it's encrypted and she can't figure it out) and while she's there her assistant calls to let her know that her office is on fire.

Damn! A little romance with a hot assistant would have lightened things up a bit, no?

Anyway, you get the idea. All these crazy things happen to her over the course of like a week, including someone trying to kill her and whatever.

Was it any good, even without the lack of hot assistant sex?

There's some humor in it, but a lot of it seemed forced. I can't say it was that great of a read, but I enjoyed some parts of it.

No love? No whoopeee?

The cop who comes to tell her about her STBE in the beginning kind of plays a large part in the story and I thought he might be her love interest, but it didn't happen like that. Then I thought maybe the insurance fraud guy might be, but that didn't work out either. LOL In the end the mystery is solved, the heroine goes home and finds out that her fence has been knocked down by her neighbors contractor (they're building a pool) and there's a family of skunks in her garage and a HUGE ASS snake hiding behind her T.V. And that was kind of it. She decided her life wasn't really that boring and bam, the book was done.

Hhhmmmm. Final verdict? Don't run over your kids to get out the door and buy this one at the bookstore. Thanks for the review Holly!

...Fiona...

14 touched me

Blogger Holly pondered...

Hellacious?? Now, now, I don't know about all that...LOL

Oh, and I forgot to mention in my email to you that I won't be reading another "Next" book. Doesn't seem like my cup-o-tea.

(notice the A's? Yup, I'm visiting DW)

7/01/2006 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

I liked it better than Hilarious.

Habitual?
Haggard?
Handy? (now that's a little risque!)
Harsh?
Hateful?
Happy?
Healthy?
Heathen?
Herculean?
Hesitant?
Hip?
Hottie?
Honest?

LOL...you tell me.
;-)
Fi

7/02/2006 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

Wait...I went and looked it up:

hel·la·cious adj.

2. Slang- Extraordinary; remarkable: a hellacious catch of fish.

You're not happy with extraordinary and remarkable?

Humph!

...Fi

7/02/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Holly pondered...

LOL! You're too cute!

K, I'll be fine with the first one. Though some of the others DID sound good. Like, Hottie. LOL

;-)

7/02/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger ames pondered...

You guys are too funny!

7/02/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Dylan pondered...

Holly the Hag? How about that one? LMAO...

Love you Holls, so you finished the book, eh? Too funny...hehe.

7/02/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger sybil pondered...

LOL

yeah I don't think I will be touching the next line...

7/02/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Holly pondered...

*le gasp* Dee, you wench! LOL

Good call Syb! ;)

7/02/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

ROFLMAO Dylan! Hahahahaha

oops...I didn't say that Holly!

I'm not really sure what romance readers would be interested in this. Is this a branch out to get new readers?

...Fiona...

7/02/2006 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Holly pondered...

UmmmHmmm...

I honestly don't know what they're thinking with this line. I understand the concept of writing geared towards a more mature audience, but there didn't seem to be much growth here. In the beginning she's frustrated with her boring social life and STBE, and at the end she's not, but she didn't "find" herself during the story, or grow stronger or become "more". So I just don't know.

We should ask someone (translate that to, Fi should ask someone..LOL)

7/03/2006 01:44:00 AM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

Here's so more info:

*note* I found the movie and book references very helpful in beginning to understand where they are going with this line.

NEXT is looking for stories that are a natural extension of series fiction — stories that celebrate all the stages of a woman's life, not just marriage and new motherhood. These stories will be warm, entertaining and sometimes even inspiring and will feature women facing a wide variety of life stages: from that first baby at 45 to the first date after divorce or widowhood; from that first day of college — accompanied by your freshman daughter! — to dealing with three generations living in the same house. The books are complex, diverse and reflect living and loving in today’s complex, diverse world. These stories will end in a happy and satisfying manner, though not necessarily in a romantic resolution. These will be novels for which romance is a piece of the pie, rather than the whole one.

Stories in this line will have a range of tones — from lighter and more humorous to serious and dramatic — but all will be upbeat, optimistic and brimming with possibility.

Secondary characters and plots are not only encouraged, they're required!

Sensuality levels can run the gamut, and will be dictated by the story.

These stories will be energetic rather than edgy.

NEXT can potentially deliver the same scope and subject matter as such diverse movies as Under the Tuscan Sun, Something's Gotta Give, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Banger Sisters and Tadpole.

Books that are good reference points for NEXT include Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik; Step Ball Change by Jeanne Ray; Good Grief by Lolly Winston; and The Not-So-Perfect Man by Valerie Frankel.

These books can be set absolutely anywhere — there are no limits.

We are open to first person point of view, and if it works for the story, multiple points of view.

Also note that NEXT author Jennifer Greene had this to say:
"I know the romance doesn't have to be first in the Nexts, but hard to imagine writing a story about a woman that doesn't include a love issue in some way..."

So is it more Chick Lit than romance? Yeah.

Did LaFoy do a good job of 'capturing' the line in her book? I don't think so.

So it probably wasn't the smartest move on Harlequins part to send it out as a promotional tool for the line.

...Fiona...

7/03/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Jane pondered...

I have never been interested in the NExt line. The blurbs don't even interest me. I suspected that these weren't romances and just passed them over.

7/03/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous jmc pondered...

Against my better judgment, I have purchased one Next book -- Cheryl Reavis' Blackberry Winter. I really liked Reavis' historicals and her categories. BW? Meh. It was absolutely NOT a romance. Sort of on the way to a HEA, but not there by the end of the book. Most of the plot was spent on other relationships, particularly the heroine's relationship with her dying mother. If I had realized it was going to include that much angst, I wouldn't have picked it up.

I do like some of the covers, though.

7/03/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

Geez, this almost sounds like another case of false advertising but on the opposite end of the spectrum from Erotica.

Both Erotica and Chick/Hen Lit lines want the business from Romance readers without delivering on a service. Tsk, tsk.

Does anyone remember whose Erotica line the bruhaha was about a month ago? Was it Harlequin also?

Bookstore workers/owners...is the Next line being shelved in the romance section?

...Fi

7/03/2006 03:47:00 PM  

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