Friday, December 16, 2016

Elisabeth Barrett Finally Has a Book in Print - And It's a Real Doozy

I have long been an Elisabeth Barrett fan.  Unfortunately (for me), her publisher only puts her works out in ebook form.  And, as all/some/none of you know, I need print.  I don't do e.  So you can imagine how excited I was to visit Barnes & Noble this past weekend and not only see Elisabeth for the 1st time in a couple of years, but also to see a print book in front of her on the table!  What is this book you ask?  It's called West Coast Holiday Series.  It consists of 3 novellas:  Christmas in Tahoe, New Year's in Napa, and Rendezvous in Point Reyes.  Have I read the 3 stories?  Nope.  But I have read the 1st one.  And I liked it so much that I'm reviewing it all by its lonesome.  Will I do the same for #2 and #3? Don't know.  Haven't read them yet.  1 step (novella) at a time.

Do you really need a blurb for a romance?  Sure:

At first glance, Chase Deckert and Ann Smith seem to have nothing in common.  He's a snowboarding instructor living a low-key life in Tahoe, and she's an actuary who spends most of her free time working in Silicon Valley.  But as the holiday weekend unfolds, they learn more about each other - and themselves - than they ever imagined.  All it takes is one long, steamy Christmas to help them realize they're meant to be together.

Okay, we all know that in romances the guy and girl end up together (does that happen here?  Read it and find out for yourself).  However, what leads up to the happily-ever-after varies greatly from one author to the next.  And Elisabeth has done herself proud with Christmas in Tahoe. Not only did I have many tears and chills; and not only did I have one time when I couldn't read because my eyes were too blurry from the moisture; and not only did I cry from a simple job offer that one of the protagonists received (at least I had enough dignity(!) and self-esteem to be SHOCKED that I cried over that one); I also had a few revelations:

1.  A romance, IMHO, has to have chapters told from the perspective of both protagonists.  I think this is critical and better enables both genders to enjoy the genre.  That is the case with CiT.
2.  If there is going to be fairly graphic sex, then that has to come AFTER the reader has made an emotional connection with the characters. Otherwise it's just sex (not altogether a bad thing, mind you).  And I'm here to say that the emotional connection here was made 1st.
3.  The story moves so much faster in a novella than in a novel.  Right now, you must be saying "Duh!" or something akin to that.  In my defense, though, I read very few short stories and novellas.  So this actually did slap me upside the head.  Once I figured it out, I have to say I kind of liked the speed and movement of the story.

Say what you will, but these are pretty significant discoveries for me.

Okay, finally, I've got just a couple of random, useless observations that resonated with me but may (and probably will) mean nothing to you:

1.  We natives call the old Nimitz Freeway 880, not THE 880 (like they do in SoCal).  That shows that Elisabeth is either a Bay Area native or has been here long enough to know the difference.
2.  Chase and Ann stop at Ikeda in Auburn on the way back from Tahoe. They eat pie.  So what, you ask/say?  Well, if you haven't had pie at Ikeda then you don't get to ask that question.  Their pies are delicious.
3.  Elisabeth talks a lot about the work culture in Silicon Valley, since the 2 protagonists either have worked there or are currently working there.  I have been working in Silicon Valley for 40 years.  I think she's got it down.
4.  I didn't see any errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.  That's amazing.  And I loved it!

If you don't know Silicon Valley or Tahoe, it doesn't matter.  This is a very good story.  It happens to be a romance.  But more important than that, it's just flat-out good.  I am very confident that #2 and #3 will follow suit. But even if they don't, it was worth the price of the book to read Christmas in Tahoe.

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