Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Recent Read

To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke

Why this one: I love her earlier books. I noticed a while ago that this was the only one missing so I recently ordered it from Amazon

Steam Level: Warm but you don’t have to worry about that nasty tongue burn

Blurb from FictionDB (a most excellent reference site):


Beautiful widow Mara Elliot had little time for shining promises-or impractical dreamers. If she couldn't save her small London factory, she would lose the chance of security she'd worked so hard to gain. But from the moment handsome inventor Nathaniel Chase became her unwanted business partner, Mara found his optimism and reckless determination kindling hopes she thought she'd forever left behind--and a passion that was suddenly putting everything she treasured at risk.

Nathaniel Chase was practical enough to realize that Mara's East End factory was his last chance to turn his innovative ideas into reality. But Nathaniel never guessed that he would soon hunger to pull the strong-willed woman close in his heated embrace, fire her heart with overwhelming desire, and gamble all he valued to gain the only future that mattered.

My Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this book. The hero Nathaniel is adorable. He's an eccentric, scatter brained inventor and toy maker. He’s a Beta hero and one of the of the better beta heroes. He constantly puts things down and forgets where he put them. I surely can relate to that trait. He’s also a dreamer, another trait it’s easy for me to understand.

Mara is one of those prickly heroines. Now when it comes to this type, they are either annoying or likeable. Mara was likeable. She's a widow whose late husband was a flake who couldn’t commit to anything. As a result she had to be the grownup and the one to take care of the day to day details of life like paying bills. She also suffered a tragic loss earlier which makes her character even more compelling. Because of this, she is afraid to take risks, preferring to trust in what is. This is the tension between Nathaniel and Mara and is very real and believable and I could see the case for both of them. But Nathaniel is totally different from her late husband and despite his dreamer tendencies is one that Mara can trust to be there for her. They both seem to complete and compliment the other and they become what the other needs to make them a more rounded person.

This book was published way back in 1995 and may be hard to find, but it’s well worth looking for.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

And this leads me to something that makes me sad as a reader. I’ve been a fan of Laura Lee Guhrke for years!! When I first started reading her books, I was struck by how different her stories were. Conor’s Way, one of my favourite books had a hero an Irish boxer very down on his luck. The story takes place in during the reconstruction of the South after the Civil War.

Another book I thoroughly enjoyed by this author, Breathless, has a divorced heroine and a hero who was her ex-husband’s attorney. Not So Innocent is another one I enjoyed immensley. The hero, Mick Dunbar is an inspector and the heroine, Sophie Haversham, has a gift of forsight. Charade is the story of a young indentured servant who becomes a spy in Colonial Boston. Prelude to Heaven has a runaway wife who was abused by her husband when she encounters a reclusive painter on the coast of France.

These are all books I’ve read and loved. And they are all unique. And they are published by Harper Collins and Pockett. Then she moved to Avon and things changed – considerably. After that that there were the overdone Dukes, the enough already Marques, the done to death Viscount and an author who wowed me with her uniquness became just another cog in the wheel. I’m a different reader then many. Thank goodness there are a few others like me, otherwise I’d feel very alone. But when it comes to historicals, I would take a book with an eccentric inventor hero over a duke; a down on his luck Irish boxer over and earl; a police detective over a marquis. I get bored to death with story after story after story dealing with the upper crust of British Society. It has been done to death!! I prefer a tale of more ordinary people. That’s one of the reasons why Dreaming of You and Suddenly You are my two favourite books by Lisa Kleypas. In one the hero is a gambler and the heroine a country mouse type writer and the other the hero a publisher and the heroine again a writer.

So when Laura Lee Gurkhe switched to Avon, I mourned, truly I did. Dukes and Earls and Viscounts (oh my) bore me and unless HIGHLY recommended, I stay away. And Dukes and Earls and Viscounts (oh my) are Avon’s bread and butter. So I knew that the days were numbered between Ms. Gurkhe and myself. It would be too painful to keep reading her post-Avon books with the dukes etc. when her previous books with more unusual characters were so loved.

The practical part of me understands why she switched. She has certainly received more notice now then when she was more a mid-list author writing for other publishers. And I’m sure that has translated into much better sales = more success = more money and who wants to be a starving artist when they can be commercially successful. But the emotional side of me – the stronger side alas – feels a great loss for what was. The emotional me wants her to still write those (to me) more interesting books – success and money be damned. But the emotional part isn’t always logical.

In some ways it’s even worse then when an author switches genres altogether. For example when Tami Hoag switched from romantic suspense to straight up suspense although I knew I’d be saying so long, I could do it with just very small sad sigh and then truly wish her well, the same with a number of other genre switching authors. But with Ms. Gurke, she is still writing romance, just not ones that I care to read any longer. It’s not unlike being close to winning the lottery, but only one or two numbers off. In the case of the others, it’s a lottery ticket with vastly different numbers. It just doesn’t hurt as much that way :-)

So for anyone who reads and enjoys Laura Lee Gurhrke, I highly recommend some of her pre-Avon books and for anyone who likes ‘outside the box’ romance, I highly recommend her pre-Avon books.


And I'm going off onto another topic. I'm on my laptop while watching So You Think You Can Dance and I'm awed by all the dancers this season. Week after week there is NO ONE I want to see leave. I think overall of all the ones I've watched so far, these are the best GROUP of dancers I've ever seen.


orannia said...

Thank you Kristie! I have read Laura Lee Gurke but I honestly can't remember the book. I think it was one of her older ones though. And yes, it is a shame when a good author ...what's the phrase I'm looking for...conforms to the status quo? That sounds a bit harsh, but...I like the avant garde books :)

And I so wish they screened So I Think I Can Dance here *SIGH* We have the Australian version last year and it was amazing!

Janet Webb said...

Run, don't walk, over to Amazon! I just ordered it: thanks for the rec. There's only one copy left for a reasonable price. I do NOT like LLG's new books -- so so sad when that happens -- but that's no reason not to enjoy the wonderful books from the past :)

Kristie (J) said...

Orannia: What a good way to put it!! And I much prefer romance books that are 'different' then the average bear.

Janet: I read the few couple of her books that she published with Avon - but they just weren't the same for me as her earlier books. And they must have sold a few since I got mine as there was quite a nice selection when I got mine. I hope you enjoy To Dream Again as much as I did *g*

AnimeJune said...

Not all of her new books are bad! "And Then He Kissed Her" was what caught me onto her! I have to admit I love me some Dukes of Earls (reading right now: "The Duke" by Gaelen Foley *headdesk*), but I notice that effect is lessened in Gurhke's books because she tends to write books in the late Victorian period where the aristocracy's power is waning considerably.

I would highly recommend And Then He Kissed Her because even though the hero is a viscount, he works for a living (he's a publisher). I'll admit "Wicked Ways of a Duke" was pleasant but m'eh, though. Thank goodness I have some of her older books in my TBR pile ("She's No Princess").

I have to say, though, that cover looks EXTREMELY awkward.

Wendy said...

Well you might have a duplicate now, because I reviewed this one way back in 2005, and you commented that you owned a copy back then.

I loved this book. At the time I thought it was about 50 pages too long - but that's honestly me just splitting hairs. Of her earlier books I still have The Seduction and Connor's Way (I know, I know) in the TBR. The Charade and Not So Innocent were just "OK" for me, but I love, love, love Breathless. Probably my favorite romance EVER.

And I own every single one of her Avon releases....and haven't read a one of them yet. Sigh.

nath said...

This was very good, I enjoyed it :D I have to admit that her pre-Avon books are good and fresh :)

Still, I love her writing with Avon :D

Taja said...

I'm still mad that I didn't buy them when I started reading romances. I know I looked at them! :(