Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jessica Hart's "Oh-so-sensible Secretary"

I had one of those nights last night where I was too tired to go to bed. I had work to do for the day job that took twice as long as it should have. By the time I finished faffing, it was past 11pm. Then I didn't want to sleep because I knew I still hadn't really achieved anything. No revisions, no new writing. You know that feeling when you've been sitting in front of the computer screen for hours, searching Facebook for old friends you really have no intention of re-connecting with? It was one of those nights.

I have no idea why I did it, but at 11.30pm last night I picked up Jessica Hart's latest novel for Harlequin Romance. Just to read one chapter. The opening paragraphs weren't anything to write home about. The heroine was so uptight and obsessive compulsive, she'd think my anally empty office desk is cluttered.

Then the hero stepped onto the page. I finally put the book down at 2am.

This novel is (to use a highly over-used but super-effective word) awesome. It's the best HMB novel I've ever read. (Yes, I wrote ever). It's the best chick lit novel I've ever read. I laughed, I cried, I sighed reading this book.

Jessica Hart breaks a lot of the current HMB 'rules' with this novel. She writes in first person. There is no hero POV at all. The tone is light-hearted and at times laugh-out-loud funny. (Like the bit where the heroine describes her birth). Don't expect any dark, brooding Mediterranean heroes here.

Though there was no sex at all in this book, even behind closed doors, the chemistry between the characters sizzled from the moment they met right up to the very last page. Despite the chick lit tone, this novel had the intensity I so loved in Twilight.

Her hero is blond and blue-eyed, a sunny, charming personality, a ladies man, an outdoorsy daredevil with a crooked smile and a fear of commitment.  He's the hero I have a tendency to write, except that I don't do it half as well as Jessica. In fact, this novel could be my James and Ally novel if you re-wrote it 200 times better. This is the kind of novel that I dream of writing one day (and of course the crackling crows of doubt are laughing at me as I type this, saying "in your dreams!")

Even if you don't usually read Harlequin Romance, treat yourself and read this one. All I can say in parting, is that if this is the future of HMB, I want to be a part of it!


  1. Oooh I gotta get me this book!!
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Hi Romy! Saw your link on Twitter and I had to post a comment to say I read Jessica's book yesterday too, and I absolutely loved it! Making me feel a bit nervous about doing my own first person POV story, as I'm thinking, "I can't top that!".

    (And flap those crows away! I remember thinking I'd never get published after I read Natasha Oakley's debut book for the Romance line, so just keep going, okay?)

  3. Wow! what an intriguing review. I don't think I've ever read a Harlequin in first person, not since I was a wee girl anyway! And no hero pov?! Will have to go and check it out!

  4. What an extraordinarily generous review, Romy! What can I say? Thank you, of course, not just for liking Phin and Summer, but also for boosting my confidence just when I need it most. I'm in the middle of trying to write a mainstream 'time slip' novel, and I know EXACTLY what you mean about reading a book and thinking 'I'll never be able to do that'... I love that phrase 'the crackling crows of doubt'! I've never met a writer who doesn't have them, so you're already one of us. Good luck with your own novel and I hope that one day soon someone will review it and make you feel as good as you've made me feel!

    Jessica Hart (having trouble posting with a name!)

  5. Thanks ladies for all the encouraging words. It's so nice to know that we're not alone.

    Fiona, as your Housekeeper novel is in the 2-in-1 with Jessica's book, you're up next. But not tonight ... I have some sleep to catch up on!

  6. Wow, what an inspiring endorsement! I haven't read a lot of HRomance, but this is making me want to because I love chicklit. And anything that inspires writing is a good thing in my book.

  7. I auto buy Jessica Hart's books because they are always so uplifting and give me a good laugh.

    Haven't read this one, although it is in a pile somewhere (might actually be on iPhone rather than in print form).

    It sounds fab, so thanks for recommending it.

  8. Haha I found out the hard way too that you can't "just read one chapter" of Jessica's books but they're definitely worth being bleary eyed the next day :D

  9. girls - I agree - have read about twenty or so of Jessica's Mills and Boons and am always reliably rewarded with the heart so often lacking in some other novelists' offerings!
    Did you know 'oh so sensible' is up for another award!
    Also that Jessica's doing a one day how to write seminar in York - in May 2011. Think it's on her website - jessicahartwriting.co.uk i think it is!
    best wishes to all