Thursday, August 23, 2012

Minis: Megan Hart, Mel Bossa

I haven't been reading a lot of books lately, but some of the books I've read have been excellent. No question about it! This usually happens to me at least once a year. It's like all the books I'm going to love find me at the same time. I'm in that kind of groove at the moment. I don't know... it might be that I choose to read works by certain authors, or books that are the right fit for me. Who knows? Anyway, here are two minis for you, as well as two recommendations.

Dirty by Megan Hart - Conclusion

Earlier last week I began reading Dirty by Megan Hart and shared my first impressions of the book for the TBR Challenge. Well, I finished it and found the answers to my questions. My final thoughts?

At the midway point in the book I was really enjoying the erotic and sexually charged moments and how well balanced they were with the deeper plot involving Elle's life. I was also loving Hart's characterization of Dan (and I did until the end, great character!), but was hoping to find out more about what drove Elle. Elle's intense, sensual, personal and somewhat frustrating narration kept me reading, and I wanted to know how or if she would overcome her fear of intimacy, and more importantly the dysfunctional family situation plaguing her.

One of the factors that impressed me about this story is that although Dan and Elle's relationship began as one based on sex, and sex continued to be central, it also turned the key to an emotional connection for both characters -- real emotion felt by the reader. Hart uses Dan and those emotions to reveal the broken woman Elle has become. That emotional connection felt between the characters (and the reader) makes a huge difference because without it, Dirty would have been just another erotic piece. That and the depth that went into plotting, as well as in developing Elle's character.

In my previous post I said that Dirty is not an erotic romance, well... it is and it isn't. This book is tough to categorize so I'm not going to try to pin it down for you, except to tell you that it is a beautifully written erotica piece with depth of plot and characterization. If you haven't read it yet, give it a try. I don't know why I waited so long! I'm planning on reading "Broken" next. (2007, Harlequin Spice) Grade: A-

♦♦♦♦♦♦

Franky Gets Real by Mel Bossa (Click on title to read book summary)

The title of this novel is Franky Gets Real, but in reality this book is not just about Franky. Mel Bossa brings stark reality back into the lives of five high school friends who after a few years of distance decide to go on a camping trip, just like the good old days. Unfortunately you can never really go back and instead of fun and relaxation, baggage follows them and the trip turns into one where lifelong secrets are revealed, one at a time.

Franky is engaged and works for the domineering Geena whom he wants to escape, but can't or won't. His problem? Confusion about his sexuality and inability to make decisions. Geena is already questioning Franky's sexuality and now his best friend Alek is about to come out of the closet to the whole group. If Alek comes out, Franky will have to admit to himself that his feelings for his best friend are deeper than friendship and he doesn't want to confront reality.

Alek has his own past ghosts to slay, but there's a good reason for his decision to come out to friends and family now. His situation and revelations act as a catalyst for the whole group, as his older brother Wyatt, a man who once was the coolest finally reveals why his marriage and life are slip sliding away, brainy Nevin's seriously pathetic problems come to the surface, and even Holly finds some previously unknown and disturbing revelations about her life. Acting almost as therapists to the group are excellent secondary characters Eli and Vlad, a gay couple the group meets at the camping grounds.

There is a lot of drama in this story, and as with Split, in many ways this book by Bossa is tough to categorize. In Franky Gets Real everyone is revealed for who they really are, secrets, warts and all. I found the characters well rendered with the exception of both female characters: Geena who becomes the screeching girlfriend and (even when there is reason to) tough to sympathize with, and Holly who pretty much plays a secondary character. Franky's confusion about his sexuality, Alek's hurt, insecure feelings and tough circumstances, and Wyatt's present and past horrors take center stage and give this story substance. As it often happens in real life, these characters and the way they confront difficult situations with their insecurities and prevarications can be frustrating at times, but the payoff in the end is worth going through the emotional ride.

I'm enjoying Mel Bossa's gay/bisexual/queer themes, as well as her writing style. Fiction? Romance? Gay? Bisexual? Who cares? Franky Gets Real has a little bit of everything and it is good! (2011, Bold Strokes Books) Grade: B+

6 comments:

  1. It doesn't matter how much you read as long as you enjoy it :) That's my way of thinking! And LOL, you share that enjoyment which is why I picked up Dirty too :)

    Hope you get a bit more time Hils!

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    1. True, Nath. And I'm enjoying my reads a lot at the moment. So glad you picked up Dirty. :)

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  2. I've read other Megan Hart titles but not this one, but I do have it. Thanks for reminding me about it. LOL

    I still haven't read Split but glad to see you enjoyed Franky Gets Real.

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    1. Ames, I hope you read and enjoy this one. Dirty is a great read. :)

      And, you haven't read Split yet? I really liked that book. Franky Gets Real is quite the roller coaster and not what I expected when initially meeting the characters -- that's a positive. :) So yeah... Bossa! She's a Canadian writer and sets her stories there. Did you know?

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    2. I read a sample of Franky Gets Real and was surprised it was in Canada, so I figured it out from there. Didn't realize Mel was a woman though. LOL I never read author info. I should though, huh?

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    3. Oh, I never thought of mentioning that. You know I don't usually pay attention to the writers' gender since I enjoy works by both male and female writers. But yeah, Mel is a woman. ;)

      And I do the same thing, Ames. With new-to-me authors, I usually (try to) read the author's information AFTER I read the book, not before, so I go into my read with a blank slate and no preconceived ideas.

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