(A few weeks ago, I reviewed Alex Beecroft's novel False Colors (available at amazon.com); today, the author returns the favor with opinions on my novel, Jericho Road.) Take it away, Alex:
This is the first ever m/f romance I've read, and without that context to review it in, I'm not quite sure whether I'm interpreting it as it's meant to be read. My main feeling is of puzzlement because it doesn't read like a romance at all to me. I expect a romance to be about a central couple and their tribulations in love, ending up with a happy ending, and although there is a couple in here with that plot, there are several other equally important couples who follow quite different trajectories. To me, it reads more like a family saga, or a study of small town life in the South of America in the Seventies than it does like a romance.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, though! I enjoyed all the interweaving stories in the same way that I would have enjoyed a run of Dallas. There's a lot of glamour in the setting; the family at the centre of the book are similarly privileged old Southern money, and many are similarly lacking in morals. I found many of the characters very unsympathetic. Marci is bigoted, but she also appears to love her husband entirely because he provides her with sex. When he stops being able to get it up, she moves on to his younger brother. Wade Conyers the fourth (her husband) may well be suffering from PTSD from the incident in which his black best friend and (sort of ) lover died, but to my mind that doesn't mean that he's excused from responsibility for the appalling way he treats his wife. Heath Conyers, the younger brother, goes from 'shy boy' to 'slightly scary sexual dominant' to 'chivalric rescuer' in a character arc I couldn't wrap my head round at all. Wade Conyers the third, (Wade's father) is a controlling father, bullying husband and member of a white supremacist organisation that gets together to half kill the half-Mohawk Doctor Redhawk, who is going out with his daughter Lindsay Conyers.
Confused yet? Surprisingly, you won't be when you read the book, because all of these separate characters and plot lines are very skilfully woven together to make a tapestry that keeps you reading on, enthralled. I can't say I liked many of the characters in the book, though the 'romantic' couple - Logan Redhawk and Lindsay Conyers - came the closest. But that didn't matter to me because I was thoroughly engrossed in the goings on and wanted to find out what happened next. And that is a major achievement, I think, given that I normally don't like m/f relationships or soap opera.
I see that the Coffee Time Romance reviewer has said "this story has an overall storyline that is very similar to a Shakespearian tragedy," and I would agree. The ending very much reminded me of Hamlet, and I loved the way that all the storylines came together to produce it.
So, I'm in the strange position that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I'm not entirely sure why. I have to guess that it's sheer storytelling verve and ability on the part of the author. A very good result indeed for my first ever het romance.
(Jericho Road is available as an e-book from www.lyricalpress.com)
Posted by Toni V.S. | 11:26 AM | Alex Beecroft, False Colors, Icy Snow Blackstone, Jericho Road, Old South and New South, Southern novel, Southern Romance | 5 comments »