Amanda Reads: So This is A Romance Novel (Since You’ve Been Gone)

So, continuing in the trend of things I’ve never done but know that I should, I decided it was high time I read a romance novel. Yes, I mean capital “R” romance, like the kind of thing with bodice-ripping covers, etc. Except that, being me, I took a more tame approach and found a nice, quaint romance novel that features a picture of a woman holding up a large, delicious looking cake on the front cover. Because, let’s face it, there’s pretty much nothing I find sexier than cake.

The book is Anouska Knight’s Since You’ve Been Gone. Admittedly, the title of this book immediately had me singing the Kelly Clarkson song of the same name (is my age showing?). However, what actually drew me to it was the simple fact that the synopsis makes it very clear that the main character, Holly, owns her own cake bakery, Cake. Little middle school Amanda, who felt that she was allowed to have a plethora of dreams that would all be easily achieved, assumed that she would own her own bakery in addition to being a best selling novelist, so this book called to me with all its cakey glory.

Counter

(Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that I climbed on my kitchen counter in an evening dress and apron for the cover photo of this post. Oh, and that is my “I’m conflicted and blushing” face, in case you can’t tell from my stellar acting skills.)

Plus, it seemed tame enough for a first go at the romance department. In light of the whole 50 Shades of Gray craze, I have had ample reminders of the level of romance novel-ness I could probably handle, so I figured it was best to start with something that was a little more falling in love and a little less falling in, well, bed. Or a dungeon or whatever it is that happens in 50 Shades.

So how was it? Well… like I said, this was my first time, so I’m not sure how a romance novel is supposed to go, but I had a few complaints. For one, the plot was so appallingly transparent that I was occasionally distracted from admiring the sexy descriptions of the romantic hero, Ciaran, because I was busy rolling my eyes and mentally outlining the obvious progression of the plot.

I suspect that plot isn’t exactly the hinge point of a sexy book, but considering the lack of sexiness in the novel (the characters only have onstage sex once, for instance–onstage bakery counter sex, but still), I had to focus on something. Sadly, that something turned out to be a plot that left a bit to be desired–and not just because nobody rips anyone’s clothes off until near the end.

Basically, it was immediately clear who would be falling in love with who. It was also pretty immediately clear how things would play out, right down to the big romantic gesture that takes place at the end.

For all that, I still found myself reading through the book at quick pace to see when the well-portrayed sexual tension between the romantic leads would finally boil over. I mostly enjoyed their rapport, although the emphasis on how often being around Ciaran made Holly blush got to be a bit much. I’m a blusher–I understand how easily that happens, but I don’t sit around thinking “Oh, it’s weird how being near him makes me blush” every time I’m around someone who has that effect.

Still, there must have been something tugging me through the book. But at the end of the day I did more eye-rolling than I did enjoying the tension that is fairly well emphasized throughout. Since I’ve been told there is a such thing as a well written romance, I must have simply chosen less than wisely for my first time. As a pretty plot and character development driven person, it wasn’t easy for me to ignore the simple building blocks and lack of growth that the novel hinged upon and get lost in that “attractive rich playboy actually has soft side and is in love with relatively plain widow” thing that this book had going on.

All in all, I can’t say I’d tell you not to read it. There were plenty of bits I quite liked. It just isn’t the book I want to settle down and spend the rest of my cake baking, novel writing days with. What can I say? We all make mistakes when it comes to romance, right?

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