Contemporary Romance — Second Titles

Contemporary Romance—2nd Titles

cover imageTitle: Tall Tales and Wedding Veils
Jane Graves
Main Appeal Factors:
humor, pace, moderate sex
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: Heather and Tony get married after a night in Vegas when they celebrated Heather’s winning enough money for Tony to fulfill his dream of buying a local bar in the home town of both of them in Texas. They agree to a quickie divorce, but when her parents are so happy, they decide to wait awhile before telling everyone it was a mistake. You know what happens next. Heather is, of course, a smart ugly duckling, always the butt of jokes by her cousins. Tony is a bad boy with a heart of gold and a bad relationship with his father.
The language is exaggerated and funny. The sex is — when it finally happens — almost steamy. The secondary characters are all interesting. This would appeal to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ fans and people who like Texas settings.

Title:  The Perfect Match
Author: Kristan Higgins
Main Appeal Factors:classic romance, quick read
Romance Subgenre:
Annotation/Thoughts: In Kristan Ramsdell’s description of a contemporary romance, she states that most characters have several common characteristics, one of which is a highly developed sense of honor. And  the name of the protagonist in The Perfect Match is Honor. Honor lives up to her name and as a reader, one  identifies  with Honor and also feels invested in Honor’s life and romantic interests.  The typical man in this kind of romance is strong and somewhat conflicted as is Tom, Honor’s eventual love interest. Honor also fits the contemporary romantic type as a strong career oriented woman…with a dog. All of the elements of a typical contemporary romance are here including the magical first kiss. The action takes place in a small town on one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York and Honor works at her family’s winery.  There are no explicit sex scenes and little to no profanity.  Because Honor is in her mid 30s, her ovaries “talk” to her quite a bit.  They wear sunglasses, knit, blush, and goad Honor into a relationship with Tom.  This was a fairly quick read and I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did.

cover imageTitle:  Too Good to Be True
Author: Kristan Higgins
Main Appeal Factors: familiarity, wish fulfillment, happy ending, escape fantasy, boy meets girl, misunderstanding, attractive in her own way, strangely attracted to the hero
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: This book follows most of the appeal factors Saricks lays out. We have a woman who is “attractive in her own way” but is just offbeat enough so that readers can relate to her. Girl meets boy, they have a series of miscommunications (mostly stemming from his jail time). They’re strangely drawn to each other although they have disagreements. The heroine is strong – she has a career and her own interests – while the hero is headstrong and tough, making it satisfying when he submits to tender emotions. The setting and plot have elements of familiarity (problematic siblings, squabbling parents, middle class life). Grace’s need to meet a mate that will make all other men pale in comparison is an example of wish fulfillment appeal factor, as well as the requisite happy ending (marriage, kids). The book deviates from a typical romance in that the book is written in first person from the viewpoint of the heroine, rather than third person. This book may be categorized more as women’s fiction/”chick lit” rather than a straight romance, since it doesn’t follow the formula exactly.

cover imageTitle: I’ve Got Your Number
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Main Appeal Factors: Humor!
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: While this novel was light on the physical aspect of the romance (very little in the way of intimate contact), it was hilarious and fast-paced. Although the ending was in some ways inevitable, getting there was a lot less predictable than the benchmark title, despite some implausible twists.  The setting is modern-day, but the use of the cellphone as a main feature means it will become a period piece as technology advances.  Nevertheless, the absurd and excruciating predicaments the heroine finds herself in as she desperately searches for a lost engagement ring are humorous enough to make this an enjoyable, lighthearted read for some time.

Title:  Mad, Bad, and Blondecover image
Author: Cathie Linz
Main Appeal Factors: Character-driven, funny, steamy, fast paced
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: Mad, Bad and Blonde would make a great movie. It has all the right ingredients for a comedic story line with a children’s librarian using her investigative instincts paired with a former Special Forces recon marine turned private investigator. Cathie Linz begins her book dedicated to Joyce Saricks who is her mentor and friend. Librarians will not be the only readers who will enjoy the adventures of jilted at the altar Faith West who unknowingly meets Caine Hunter the arch rival of her family’s business when she goes to Italy alone. She reconnects with Caine when she returns to her home in Chicago and the sparks between them are reignited when they work together to solve a cold case involving Caine’s father and her own father. There are enough steamy scenes to keep the interest of hard core romance fans while the story moves along at a rapid pace for everyone else.

cover imageTitle: Twenty Wishes
Author: Debbie Macomber
Main Appeal Factors:  Cozy, mature ladies
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: Anne Marie, a recent widow and owner of a successful book store on Blossom Street, meets with her group of friends who are also widows. Together, they decide to get on with their lives by making lists of twenty things they want to accomplish.  As part of her list, Anne Marie tutors a young shy girl and gets involved with her life. The other widows meet men while going through their lists. I liked this book because it was not the usual romance and was about older, more mature women. Anne Marie and Ellen created a family together while their friends became involved with other men.

cover imageTitle: Playing the Odds
Author: Nora Roberts
Main Appeal Factors:  Storyline, pace, tone
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: Serena MacGregor had been looking for a little independence and some much-needed adventure, but Justin Blade was not what she had in mind. The stakes were high, and Justin was betting on changing Serena’s mind about him. But when this fiery heiress upped the ante on the cool Comanche gambler, steamy didn’t begin to describe the results.…  Playing the Odds by Nora Roberts is the first in the Macgregor Series. There are eleven books in this series which is a heartwarming family saga. The storyline is character driven and it is a fast paced novel. This is a romantic story with a strong female main character and her male counterpart is equally as  driven. Both main characters are likable. This book has all the elements of a romance with a happy ending and I think it will appeal to a male reader.  The setting is both in a casino on a cruise ship and also on land. The author does a great job of describing casino activities and casinos themselves.  The sex scenes are many and very steamy.  I enjoyed this book because it was about casinos and told the story of a rich family saga.

cover imageTitle: Still the One
Author: Jill Shalvis
Main Appeal Factors:  Tone, humor, rescue animals
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: Part of the Animal Magnetism series but can be read on its own. Sexual tension crackles between Darcy, who was seriously injured in a one-car accident, and her brother’s best friend,  AJ, who also happens to be the top-notch physical therapist who worked her body and long legs back to its current still fragile but lovely condition, but each considers the other off-limits. Sexy and humorous, the story gives readers both Darcy’s and AJ’s points of view. The pace was pretty fast, but Darcy’s physical and psychological damage from the accident, her anger management problem, and her abandonment issues stemming from her childhood, were laid on pretty thick and slowed the story down. Darcy’s passion is rescuing dogs to make therapy dogs out of them; this plays a fairly large role in the story, also. Meets all the criteria for a good contemporary romance and might even have enough about recovery from trauma to be enjoyed by a women’s fiction reader, as well, but is not a particular stand-out, except for the excellent audio narration by Karen White.