Of all the trials and tribulations that life can throw at you love is one of the most difficult. It can make you, break you, confine you or define you. It’s what we all search for, and most certainly what we all need. Whether it be the selfless love of your parents, or the understanding love of a best-friend; it remains the most challenging of circumstances to accept, and more importantly the hardest to let go of.
A few years ago I had a bit of a hiccup in the love department. This hiccup (and by hiccup I mean nuclear bomb) included every member of my family (mom, dad, hubs, brother… etc.) I had lost faith in them, and even sadder, I no longer trusted them. Then one day, while looking through a few of my old journals (yes..I’m that girl.) I ran across a quote I had written down the last time love had stabbed me in the back.
“Love me without fear. Trust me without questioning. Need me without demanding. Want me without restrictions. Accept me without change. Desire me without inhibitions.” – Dick Sutphen
Finding this (and re-reading it a hundred or so times) helped me to understand something. If you want love, you can’t be afraid of love. A pretty important message (if I do say so myself,) AND one that Loni Flowers explores in her contemporary romance “Taking Chances.”
“At age twenty-three, Alex has had a hard life. His parents died when he was quite young, leaving his grandparents to raise him. Right before his high school graduation, his grandparents passed on too, leaving him all alone. After losing everyone he’s ever loved, Alex turns to the streets in a self-destructive pattern until he finally ends up in Springhill, where he tries to make a new life for himself.
Clair’s childhood was normal until age thirteen, when her father left the family and she never heard from him again. Consequently, her mother went into a deep depression, forcing Clair to grow up quickly. After finishing high school, Clair’s heartache over her father’s absence as well as her unbearable mother drive her to strike out on her own. But having nowhere to go and no family to speak of, Clair wanders aimlessly from town to town, homeless, and without purpose. Looking for work wherever she goes and living hand to mouth on the streets is tough, Clair discovers, but living with her mother is worse.
Now twenty-one years old, Clair has found her way to the last place she and her family took their final vacation as a family–Springhill. While in town, she crosses paths with Alex and their ensuing relationship grows faster than expected. Soon Clair wonders if coming back to Springhill and meeting Alex was the best decision or the worst decision she ever made.”
For those of you out there (in the land of the literary Gods) that tend to lean towards Contemporary Romance (ala Roberts, Garwood, Wiggs) as your genre of preference you probably know (better than most) that romance novels often follow a formula.
Guy meets girl/they want each-other/they don’t want each-other/mayhem issues/the need each-other….yada yada. The end.
This formula is a good one. It’s worked for YEARS (without fail) and I’ll be damned if I stand in it’s way. (I happen to enjoy the predictability of it…I’m assured a happy ending.) BUT, sometimes it’s important for authors to shake it up.
“Taking Chances” is a very formulaic book, and for 90% of the readers that will purchase this novel, that is going to be just fine by them. Me? I was a little disappointed. (cue dramatic music.) Flowers is clearly a writer. And because I saw her spark shimmering right below the surface of the first several chapters of this novel I expected more from her. (Not fair, I know. Boo me.) I expected her to write outside of the box. To dig deeper than she did and splay her characters out for the whole world to see. Open those wounds up baby and let your characters bleed! But instead she bottled Alex and Clair up and only allowed them to express emotion through tears and hand gestures. I understood the characters, (there’s no doubt about that) and in some parts their interactions were expertly written, (for example all of those lovely “sexy time” scenes) but the intensity I felt radiating from the characters (specifically from Clair) in the beginning of the book (as Alex was “saving her”) felt almost like and supernatural entity for the remainder of the book.
Clair didn’t want to “take a chance” on love. She had her reasons, I respect them, hell…I even understood them. But after a few smoldering glances and 1 heavy petting session she cast her misgivings aside and says “let me have it?” This is where I think Flowers faltered. Clair’s emotions were very high-strung in the opening of this novel, and she should have kept them that way for a tad longer to increase the intensity the reader would feel once Alex finally “convinced” Clair that he wasn’t just in it for the booty. (wow…that was very un-eloquently said.) In short…there needed to be a tad more push and pull for the the “mini mine fields” to have more of an impact later in the story.
So what about the “story?”
It was fine. It wasn’t anything I’d phone home about, but it was a quick read that kept me entertained (in spite of my unreasonable expectations) and would make a very nice beach read for those of you gearing up for a summer in the sun.
Could it have been better? Yes…I think Flowers has a lot more to her than she let us see this time. That said…I look forward to seeing what she puts out in the future.
A solid start for a new author. A cheap (not cheesy) read for romance fans, and it taught an important lesson. I guess it’s what you would call average, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember:
“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” – Sarah Dessen
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Meet The Author
Loni Flowers lives in Elm City, North Carolina with her video-gaming husband, who makes her laugh every day; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when foods around. She works a full-time professional job and when she’s not playing on the internet or chatting on Twitter, she spends her free time with friends and family waiting for the next big idea strike. Taking Chances is her first novel.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*