From Kate’s Writing Crate…
I’m updating the first masterclass post I published on September 24, 2012. I was intent on meeting my self-imposed 500 maximum word count, but I did not do justice to these books by combining them into one post.
Here is an expanded review of these books:
Pamela Clare writes historical and contemporary novels including the I-Team series which follows the lives of reporters writing for The Denver Independent.
The I-Team series started in the story Heaven Can Wait published in the book Catch of the Day. Six books are now in the series (Extreme Exposure, Hard Evidence, Unlawful Contact, Naked Edge, Breaking Point, and Striking Distance) each highlighting one main character, and Skin Deep, following up on a secondary character, but the whole cast appears in every book. (PLEASE NOTE: There are adult situations and violence in these books. Also, Striking Distance is more graphic and violent than the rest of the books.)
While the newspaper office is their base, the characters are out and about in Denver, the surrounding mountains, an Indian Reservation, and Mexico. Clare uses not only visual descriptions, but distinctive sounds, fragrances, foods, and ambiance to create you-are-there settings.
The dialogue is terrific. Work discussions are professional—usually. The dialogue changes when the female characters are talking amongst themselves or the male characters are bonding with each other. Conversations between the romantic leads are intense, sometimes outrageous, and often funny.
Backstories are key to the success of these books. Each character lives according to her reactions to her backstory that is revealed throughout "her" book. The backstories include difficult childhoods and tragic pasts. One reporter is also a single mother struggling to balance her career and caring for her young son.
The plots are tight providing a lot of suspense as the investigations lead the reporters into danger as they expose corrupt politicians, sex traffickers, on-the-run convicts, on-the-take law enforcement officers, thieves of Indian artifacts, and drug cartels.
The men they meet and fall in love with are also shaped by their own backstories and occupations. As these characters are in politics or members of various law enforcement agencies, they are often in conflict with the reporters and their methods of investigation.
Happy endings are in realistic doubt due to circumstances and the characters' outlooks on life—which makes for great reading!
Maryann McFadden writes novels about women who need time and space to make difficult decisions due to changes in their circumstances, relationships, and within themselves. Each woman finds her own path to solitude—not always comfortably—meeting kindred spirits along the way.
Thoughtful and well-written, McFadden's stand-alone books all take place near the sea or a lake. These settings play important roles in the books.
In So Happy Together, Claire Noble is a mother who always wanted to be a photographer. Through a summer class, she ends up photographing Cape Cod. Her avocation brings the settings alive. The light, the scenery, objects, and people are all described in brilliant detail so the reader can visualize the shots she is taking while feeling both the wind and the sand as she walks around looking for the right composition. She is also adjusting to new circumstances—her daughter’s first pregnancy, her father’s illness, and her own finance’s ambivalence.
In The Book Lover, Lucinda Barrett is a first-time author who is working hard to get her book into the hands of readers. Traveling around for book readings, she meets long-time bookseller Ruth Hardaway and her son, Colin. Both Lucinda and Colin have challenges to overcome as they fall in love. She has been betrayed by her ex-husband and he is recovering from injuries received in a war. Will love heal these wounds?
The Richest Season features two women at the different stages in their lives—a widow who needs care at the end of her life and a woman who needs shelter as she is separated from her husband. A cottage by the sea gives them both comfort as they make life and death decisions.
The books have happy endings, but not always conventional ones. The settings stay with you--especially if you dream of time away by the sea.