Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TBR Day: Finding Mary Blaine and Fools Rush In

As you all know, I'm in the middle of re-shelving my books (yes, still) and so I've been going through the books, deciding which ones to keep, which ones to give away... As a result, I've been reading quite a lot out of my TBR pile (hurrah!), rediscovering what I had in it LOL :) So for this month's challenge, you get two reviews :)

ps. for those who are wondering, I haven't gone to the bookstore yet. One more day... one more day, but it's the most difficult because I have to pick up my sister in downtown. It's like a mantra: want book, but cannot go. Must wait till sale.

Finding Mary Blaine by Jodi Thomas
published by Mira in August 2004

Prominent attorney’s wife killed in bombing

The morning’s newspaper headline leaves Blaine reeling. Only a few hours ago she’d dragged herself dazed and bleeding from the smoking rubble, but it might as well have been a lifetime ago -- because now the world believes she is dead.

Before Blaine can reach her husband, the bomber strikes again. With terrifying clarity she realizes he’s bent on wiping out the witnesses to his crime -- and she’s one of them. Without money and ID she becomes Mary Blaine, hiding in a homeless shelter, knowing it’s to dangerous to go home.

Meanwhile, her husband, Mark, realizes his carefully managed life is beginning to crumble. After years of taking Blaine for granted, he finally grasps how nothing -- not even a promising career in politics -- is worth it without her by his side. Desperately he searches for anyone who was with Blaine just prior to the blast. But instead, he finds something -- someone -- much more important.

Genre: romantic suspense, contemporary
Series: none

The Story: Blaine and Mark fell in love during college and married. Years later, Mark is an attorney who is soon going to run for congressman. Blaine and Mark still love each other very much, but their relationship is at a stillpoint. One day, Blaine goes to a public health clinic, knowing that whatever the result is, it's going to change their life... Before she can talk to Mark, the clinic is bombed... After realizing the attack was aimed at her in order to hurt Mark, Blaine decides to hide in order to protect Mark. Meanwhile, Mark is realizing how much he's been taking Blaine for granted and how much he needs her.

My Opinion: This was a good book. Sure, there are some 'huh' parts and I don't agree with all the choices Blaine made, but it was nonetheless a good book. I like that Blaine and Mark were married from the beginning and that they were still in love. It's not that their relationship was without problem, but yes, they were still deeply in love and care for each other. I think that what happened to Blaine and Mark's marriage is something that could happen to everyone. It's just so easy to fall into a routine and then you start to justify why you work so hard. Mark was taking Blaine for granted and not paying her enough attention... and he regretted it so deeply when he thought that Blaine was dead. I like the changes it brought on him and how deeply affected he was... The scene where he heard that there was a bombing and Blaine was probably stuck there as a witness and he had to join her to help her out, because she doesn't do well in crowd... and then discovering that she was "dead." That scene was really poignant and sad. Definitively one of my favorite.

Do I think Blaine should have tried harder to contact her husband, absolutely. However, she didn't and there's nothing I can do to change it, right? The book focus on how Blaine does to survive and under the circumstances, she did well. The only part nagging me a bit is that she wasn't active enough into solving the mystery... if the bomber didn't reappear, how long would she have continued the life as 'Mary Blaine'?

Something else that was refreshing is that you don't get to see the villain's POV at all. I thought that was nice. Instead, you follow Blaine and Mark as they each try to survive and do something. It's definitively make Finding Mary Blaine different than most romantic suspense out there. It's actually not that much of a suspense, but at the same time, the romance was a bit weak since Mark and Blaine spend most of the book separate. It's hard to categorize this book. Still I enjoyed it, because you want to know what's going to happen. You want to know if Mark will find Blaine, what Blaine will do... Both main characters were interesting, strong and appealing. This book would have miserably failed if the characters weren't good, but they were and they kept me reading. I have to admit I would have liked for the author to add an epilogue at the end, for better closure.

My Grade: B. I like how this book is different than most romantic suspense. I love the main characters and seriously, there's nothing better than having the hero realized how much the heroine means to him and to see him get a second chance to cherish her.

Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN books in November 2006

Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable puppy suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.

But perfection isn't as easy as it looks--especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. Sure, he needs a friend after being dumped by Millie's fortune-hunting sister, but does she really need to enjoy his company that much? He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to start a new list…

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

The Story: The back blurb is a pretty good summary, so I'm not going to try to write another one...

My Opinion: This was a great book and I really enjoyed it. Of course, I would have enjoyed it better if there's been more sex LOL :) As it was, the book was quite tame, a few kisses and non-descriptive sex, which gave Fools Rush In a chick-lit feel.

Ms Higgins definitively wrote a winner heroine with Millie. Not only was she great, but she kind of remind me of myself... except the part where she used to stalk and 'accidentally' run into her crush - Joe Carpenter. I didn't have a crush to stalk :P Millie is a good person and level-headed. She loves her family, especially her nephew and has a good relationship with her brother-in-law. She also has very good friends and loves being a family doctor. She comes back to Cape Cod with the intention of making Joe Carpenter notice her and her plan is to loose some weight and getting a better wardrobe. The only dark cloud in her life is her sister, Tracy. Tracy and Millie don't have a good relationship, part of it is due to Tracy selfishness and another part is jealousy between them, Tracy being the pretty one and Millie, the smart one. It doesn't help that Tracy cheated on Sam with a rich New Jerseyite which was the catalyst for the divorce. Let's say that Millie (and the rest of the family) doesn't approve of Tracy's cheating and asking for divorce.

I liked Millie because she was real and normal. She's not a tough or kick-butt cop ,or someone with a dark past, or someone overly klutzy or goody. She's just a girl coming back home after years of school to start her 'adult life' and find love. Ms Higgins did a good job not falling into a stereotype or over-exaggerating some character traits. Actually, the whole book feels real and normal... like how Millie idealized Joe and then realized he's not what she made him to be in her mind. What helps is the pace of the story. I was happy while reading it, because it wasn't too fast. Everything happens in its own time and I think the book spans a couple of months. I liked how it took time for Joe to notice Millie and even more time for Millie and Sam to realize their feelings. It helped that nobody fell in bed together too fast.

What put me off reading this book for so long is the fact that Sam is Millie's ex-brother-in-law. That's a weird relationship; however, it was really well handled. What I like is that Millie and Sam started off the book as very good friends. There's a 6-7 years gap between Sam and Millie and Sam has been her brother-in-law since she was 12 and so, there's a bit of hero worship in their friendship. I like that neither of them were in love with each other before or at the time of the divorce. Instead, it happened gradually after they started spending time together, without either realizing it... The great thing is that Ms Higgins was able to make it feel very natural and rational, so it wasn't out of the blues. I especially love knowing at which moment each character realized they were in love with each other :)

What I like most? Just seeing Millie interact with her entourage... her trying to matchmake Sam and her best friend (I would have done that), hanging out with Sam to cheer him up... helping her nephew with his college application and etc. Speaking of nephew... Danny is 17 years old and thank you Ms Higgins for making up a normal, regular teenager. It was really a nice change. Danny was such a sweet and loving boy... not an angry teenager who hates everyone and so on. No, he was mature and understanding :P

The only thing that I hated is that Tracy wasn't put in her place. There was a scene between Tracy and Millie at the end of the book where Millie tried, but I still feel that Tracy had the upper hand in the argument. I would have liked for Millie's parents to side with her openly and tear away Tracy's facade and make her realize how selfish she's been all those years. Also, I would have liked to see more scenes of Millie and Sam as a couple :P

My Grade: B+. It's a fun and real book and I'm definitively looking forward to read more of Ms Higgins book.
ps - Ames, the dog was cute :P Especially when he tried to jump Sam's leg LOL :)