(We open on a man waiting for some local movers to pack up his deceased parents’ house. He recognizes one of them.)
… the truck slowed to a crawl and stopped just beyond the picket fence that was apparently a requirement for all of the gentrified replicas of throwback-quaint on Nook Island.
I don’t review much. For one thing, I don’t have time to read. But mostly it’s because what I do read I can’t recommend in most cases and won’t criticize other writers. Because that’s criticizing their readers, too.
And I’m a snob. I mostly abhor the callow, ignorant, undisciplined, sounds-like-it-was-written-during-study-hall crap that passes for genre writing these days.
But. Once in a great while, I stumble on some language that evokes and entices and fucking nails it. Look at the opening quote. You know exactly where you are. You can smell the ocean, hear the susurration of distant surf, imagine the row of shops that feed the summer people and close off-season.
You also know something of the character’s mind-set. Look again. It’s a twenty-word info-dump that’s such a pleasure to read you don’t notice.
The memory came in saturated fragments …
Spare and simple, mature writing that doesn’t reach for an unnecessary metaphor because the writer doesn’t trust the reader, or themselves.
I narrowly missed being speared by the coat hook as my shoulder slammed shut the faux wood door of the stall. I fumbled the lock with one hand, pulled him to me with the other, fingers spanning and raking the damp sheen of sweat gathered low on his back. A hot wash of breath across my throat, his lips dragging over the curve of my jaw, the tickle of his lip ring against my stubble. He smiled against my teeth and murmured, “A guy who knows what he wants. I like it.”
Again, a powerful simplicity. The writer doesn’t feel the need to shove the entire scene in this club or restaurant into the opening, that can unfold in time. Or perhaps not, because in two graphs she gives us everything we need to know…
When I reached for his waistband, he brushed my hand away. “Not yet. I like to concentrate. I’ll get mine in a minute.” He licked at the side of my neck where my pulse was hammering, then tightened his fingers around my shaft, pulling a moan from me. I just wanted him to shut up. Just wanted him to shut up and get me off.
Except he never got his.
And I couldn’t remember his name.
And there you go. It’s slow-burn romance, we’re 5 pages in and we know everything we need to, to proceed to the push-pull. Right now we are anticipating them meeting again. Which is just about to happen. Our MC has some ‘splainin to do, to us and the hot guy he left hanging.
Center of Gravity follows the familiar pattern of this sort of romance. It’s what the slow-burn reader wants, after all. But they aren’t cookie-cutters, they are less broken than beat up. And like all good storytellers, Wilder gives us one of those lines that resonates for us personally.
I didn’t need psycho-analyzing, just a month or two where something didn’t fall apart.
Once again, just enough. We get it.
I don’t read this kind of romance, usually. But this one is a pleasure to cozy up on the porch with and put yourself safely into the hands of a fine writer and her lovely men.
Neve Wilder is new to me and seems to be doing everything right. Wilder, Neve. Center of Gravity: Nook Island Book 1 . Kindle Unlimited.