Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jill Shalvis - Instant Attraction

Preface: I've had this review half finished for about a month. Sorry it took me so long to actually sit down and finish it. :-\

I really like Jill Shalvis. I love her sense of humor, I love her dialogue, I love her characters. So when you find me harping on one aspect that got to me, keep in mind that even with her flaws, she's totally worth a read.

I got introduced to her (as an author, I haven't personally met her) though the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website (which, if you're interested in romance at all you should totally check out) and, while I was really interested in reading her, I haven't been able to do so until really recently. I still haven't read all of the books I would like to, but, particularly over the past week, I've been able to catch a glimpse of her writing at different stages of her career and I have to say that, while she's always had talent, there are certain aspects in which she's really improved. The one in particular that always gets me is the "don't tell me, show me."

I've seen, as her books have progressed, instead of trying to tell the reader how they should feel or how the characters are feeling, her using more and more descriptions placing us there so we can see how they feel.

Anyway - I really liked her, and you'll see that because I'm going to take a minute to gush, so don't take my minor rant that the end of this all TOO seriously.

What do I love about Jill Shalvis? First and foremost, her sense of humor. She's fantastic at witty banter, which is one of my favorite things in the world to read. In Instant Attraction specifically, She created a fantastic, very flawed heroine who I can relate to, but you can also see why the hero loves them so much. And her male characters are YUM. (Did I just say that? Yes, I did)

I was also really impressed with her secondary characters. The other two brothers didn't have much in depth explanation, mostly I think because she's making their own books, but Nick, Annie and Serena were fabulously well developed. While I differ from my favorite people ever, the smart bitches, in that I absolutely loved Annie, we both agree on the fact that Annie was completely and totally real.

That's really why I loved her so much - She was upset and unhappy with her marriage for reasons she couldn't quantify, though she still loves Nick. She just wanted a REACTION from him. I could find myself identifying with her, or failing that, I could readily sympathize with her. (yes and that's just a secondary character)

It also has to be said for Serena that she managed to create an ex that has a bit of bitchy ex without being OMGEVIL. I found that very impressive and, really, a joy to read. I don't mean to spend more time on the secondary characters than the main ones. I love how she brought two people working on getting past some major scar tissue in two different ways, to form a believable bond.

Now, remember when I said that, from what I can tell, she's much better at the showing rather than telling bit? That's very true, however there was still one place in particular that drove me nuts. Bear with me for a sec.

One of my other favorite authors is Jennifer Crusie, and she wrote an excellent article (The Five Things I Learned About Writing Romance from TV) in her Lessons #2 and 4 are say it with action and mean what you don't say. The "long winded romantic declarations" are so much better put by a telling gesture. Just take a look at her examples.

Shalvis's hero (Cameron by the way, I just realized I haven't been using the main characters' names) really did not strike me as the type to make any sort of big romantic speech, even though he's realized that she's the love of his life, and yet that's exactly what he does. He already had the big gesture down, which was fabulous. He doesn't have to go into a speech after that - a few words will do nicely. Maybe it's just because I've read that article, maybe I wouldn't have noticed it before, but since I did, that one little scene drove me a little crazy.

I would reccomend this one, it's definitely a good read and I'm excited for the others in the series to come out. Sorry it took me so long to finish this review. Happy reading!

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