Thursday, April 28, 2011

Two Umbrellas: Dear Sir, I'm Yours by Joely Sue Burkhart

I really wanted to love this author, and I think I still might. Perhaps this wasn't the best introduction to her. If you've read her, feel free to recommend a different title for me to try. Do you have a favorite author who failed to wow you on the first book you tried? When I like an author's voice and feel like their writing is otherwise strong, I usually try to give them 2 or 3 outings when I can. Admittedly, this is more true when I can try them through the library or used bookstore! But, still I like to try to be fair.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I bought this on the strength of an awesome excerpt in the back of another Samhain book and an awesome blurb. Burkhart has a great premise here: former student had a brief kinky encounter with her professor, reconnects several years later when both are (supposedly) more ready for a real relationship. She's also got a strong voice and great characterization, but where this read really came apart for me was heroine. It's been a long time since I encountered a heroine that I felt was simply too damaged for a HEA, but Rae falls into that category. She ran away from Conn five years ago because she was too scared by what he made her feel and was too scared to explore her kinky side. I get that, and at 21, it was probably the smartest thing she could do, but at 26, she's still all kinds of messed up and as fragile as a newborn colt, with an alarming tendency to bolt whenever she feels anything that makes her the least bit uncomfortable.

This isn't unheard of in romance, but Conn still wants to have a kinky relationship (and despite his protests, I don't think he would have been happy with anything less) and believes that this is what Rae needs. But, I ended up feeling that what Rae really needs is several months of intensive counseling. She has issues beyond what she can work out with Conn--why did she run away from him only to immediately end up with another dominating male? Why does she flee from uncomfortable situations? For this part, why did Conn wait five years to find her? They still both lived in the same medium sized town/area. He's been fixated on her the whole time--to the point of seeking out "lessons" on how to be a better dom and collecting items that he only intends to use with Rae. He seemed borderline stalker-ish, especially in light of Rae's issues.

It shouldn't feel like the characters are dancing across a frozen lake with no ice skates as they navigate what should be sexy scenes. A little reluctance is one thing, but Rae's issues seem far deeper. And perhaps, if the plot had focused a lot more on just Rae and Conn and their relationship with more encounters, we could have seen more of a change in her. But, there's a lot of other stuff happening in the plot, some of which is really funny like the haunted house, but it ends up detracting from the relationship. Burkhart does, however, seem to have a real gift for comedy and secondary characters, so I think I would probably appreciate the secondary plots more in a different book. She's also inventive and her engaging voice kept me reading whereas I otherwise would have put the book down. I'm going to give her another try as I *really* want to love her. Accepting recommendations of other titles of hers that I might like more!

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