But that's not really the point of the title to this post. I went to the library on Monday. As we all know, library books are at the top of the hierarchy of any TBR pile because of that famous Anglo-American judicial axiom: You snooze you lose. Either the book goes back or money flows in the form of fines. But when I went to the library to collect the latest Lee Child thriller (mmm, Jack Reacher!) I picked three other books: a series romance by Nalini Singh, the latest Elizabeth George, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larssen. None of those is a quick read, with the exception of the Nalini Singh.
As a consequence, I'm going to be reading some non-romance novels for a while. I'll report in, though, just so you know I am still reading.
However, before I dig into those library treasures, I wanted to get one of the KCC books read. Patrick MacNeill was published in 1999, but I'm counting it for the KC Challenge because Kantra is primarily a 2000s author. Patrick's brothers, Con and Sean, also have their romances, both published in the 2000s. The three brothers grew up in a tight-knit Boston Irish family. Patrick dated his high school sweetheart, Holly, married her around the time he was in the Marines, and started a family. But when his son, Jack, was four months old, Holly's car was hit by a drunk driver. Holly was killed and the baby was badly burned. Dr. Kate Sinclair was in the hospital when the baby was brought in, but four years go by before she's back at that particular hospital's burn unit. Jack isn't her patient, only he is, and so she runs into the dad a lot.
The rest of the book is a rather slow but steady progression through the development of their relationship. There's no one reason why they shouldn't date, assuming the fact that Jack is technically not Kate's patient takes care of any professional conduct issues. I don't know what the rules are for doctors, but lawyers aren't allowed to date their clients. If there's any parallel between the two professions, then Jack is Kate's patient no matter what the chart says, and she probably shouldn't be dating the dad. Enh, not that important an issue.
What struck me as important is that with that one ethical issue off the table, there's sod all reason for these two not to date. Which means that more than half the book really makes no sense. Get `em in a relationship -- there's still tension there. Instead, all blood in the protagonists' heads pools in their groins and they stop thinking. Alas, this made the ending particularly bloodless. For me, at least.
So the book is going right back into my "TBS" (to be swapped) pile. Not a bad book, but not nearly special enough. And that made me think: what would be special enough? Well, take the basic elements of a contemporary romance:
- Story arc (for each of them and for their relationship)
- Conflict and/or tension
- Emotional dip as they think it might not work
- Happy ever after ending
So I know there can be a series contemporary romance worth keeping. It could be that some of those other books you recommended are going to be keepers, so keep checking back. I will read them all, I promise. And the prize is still on the table!