I finished this book several days ago, but have mixed emotions about it. I wanted to love it. I've read three of Ms. Cready's other books. I enjoyed Aching for Always. I loved Tumbling Through Time. I absolutely adored Seducing Mr. Darcy, which is now part of my Permanent Collection – and I rarely keep books permanently. And so I expected to, and wanted to, love A Novel Seduction.
Ellery Sharpe is the book critic for Vanity Place magazine. She's kind of a literary snob, who looks down very disdainfully on romance novels (I can only imagine what she'd think of a Harlequin). She writes a scathing review of the memoir of Bettina Moore, the head of a very successful romance publisher. Bettina is not happy about that. And since it turns out she is sleeping with Ellery's boss, he is not happy. To appease Bettina, he assigns Ellery a story – about romance novels and how wonderful they are. Cue Ellery gagging.
Axel Mackenzie is a freelance photographer, who sometimes works on pieces for Vanity Place. He is also Ellery's ex. He's trying to buy a brewery, his dream, and the boss is willing to double his salary for the romance piece if he can get Ellery to write the perfect article. Challenge accepted.
I liked the characters very much, especially Axel. Their breakup a few years ago is still fresh in both their minds, and they both have secrets. Ellery had her reasons for initiating the breakup, and Axel is still a little confused about what went wrong, though he did find out Ellery's secret but never told her so. The story is enjoyable, amusing, cute.
But I had two problems. First, all of Ms. Cready's other books have involved time travel. The heroines find themselves transported to another time. A Novel Seduction did not have any time travel in it. For the first third of the book, I kept waiting for that, and I was disappointed when I realized it wasn't going to happen. So I know that shouldn't affect my feelings for the book, and really it's a minor issue, which I probably would have gotten over.
My bigger issue: I love Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Love love love it. It's my very most favorite book ever. I've read it twice, and in 2007-2008 I read the entire series practically back to back. For those of you who don't know, it's about Jamie, a Scottish highlander, and Claire, an Englishwoman who inadvertently travels back to Jamie's time. In A Novel Seduction, one of the romance books Ellery is introduced to is called Kitlander. It's the story of Jemmy, a Scottish highlander, and Cara, a modern woman who inadvertently travels back to his time. There are several discussions about Kitlander, and Ellery begins reading it, and all the scenes that are mentioned parallel scenes from Outlander.
This book, and Kitlander, are an ode to Outlander, and in the Acknowledgments Ms. Cready thanks Ms. Gabaldon for writing the book that made her fall in love with romance novels. A Novel Seduction is a tribute to Ms. Gabaldon. I get that.
Some time back, I read a blog post by Ms. Gabaldon wherein she talked about how she hates fan fiction. It was an inflammatory post that caused a lot of discourse among fans of her books, and the post was later removed from her blog. I personally do not read fan fiction, and cannot understand why anyone would. When an author writes such wonderful books, with such wonderful characters, why would you want to read stories about those characters written by someone other than the author? And why would an author want the general public to take her characters and create their own stories? If I remember correctly, Ms. Gabaldon equated that to stealing, and I can see her point.
So while reading this book, with Kitlander, I kept thinking about Ms. Gabaldon, and wondering if she would approve, or disapprove. It's not fan fiction, it's not her characters, but it's characters based on her characters. And so I felt a little...guilty for reading. Which marred my enjoyment of this book.
So I still have mixed emotions, and I'm just not sure overall how much I like the book. I mean, I liked it. I did. But I've never read a book that made me felt guilty for reading it. And I don't like that.
And I want to go back now and read Outlander again, for the third time.
(I purchased this book from Amazon. In fact, I pre-ordered it.)