Saucy Saturday: Carolina Moon

July 18, 2009 at 12:00 am 4 comments

It had been too long, Tory thought, since she’d sat on a porch swing watching the stars come out and hearing the crickets chirp. A long time since she’d been relaxed enough to simply sit and smell the breeze….Even as she thought it, she realized it was likely to be a long time before she did so again.

Okay, confession time: despite previous posts, every once in a while, I deeply enjoy lapsing into escapism with a good romance novel. I do mean a good one, though, and Nora Roberts’ Carolina Moon definitely falls into that category. In fact, it was so good it left me feeling a little like Tory in the quote above, just enjoying the good read while at the same time knowing that tomorrow, I had to dive into Le Morte Darthur and Dracula.

Sure, this story has all the trappings of a romance novel: Tory is a psychic with a troubled past who moves back to her hometown to open a gift shop (why do women in these novels always run gift shops of some sort?), and Cade, the male love interest whose bizarre nickname comes from Kincade, a name so snooty the reader immediately knows he comes from money, is an organic farmer whose family owns the land Tory’s family used to lease and farm like 20th-century sharecroppers. There are puppies, remarks that would get the men who say them arrested if they were anywhere else but in the pages of a romance novel, and about three marriages before the novel ends.

However, this novel is more than just a frame for raucous sexual encounters, as so many romance novels tend to be. There is literally no more sex in this book than there is in the average Jodi Picoult novel, and though the previous owner of my copy of this book had thoughtfully dogeared the pages with the more graphic of those encounters, as those scenes were few and far between, the book was hardly damaged.

Instead, Ms. Roberts seems to concentrate on setting up a mystery from the start; a series of murders with a connection only Tory can find. And though the culprit might seem obvious, at various points I suspected four different men (thanks to Ms. Roberts’ clever red herring — or rather, red handkerchief). The only flaw I can find in the plot itself is that a certain character seems to only be introduced in order to kill her off shortly after. Still, when this character is introduced, she is given a history and is fleshed out enough that the reader doesn’t immediately suspect anything and is in fact sorry to see her go.

The premise, I’ll admit, would probably not fly in a book that took itself too seriously, as psychics are slightly ridiculous even in the Harry Potter universe…though this begs the question “why?” as vampires, slightly more outlandish members of the supernatural milieu, have been accepted in serious literature since Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And with Phillipa Gregory cutting about with books centering on voodoo and Jodi Picoult giving us novels about ghost hunters, there’s no reason a woman writing about psychics shouldn’t be accepted into the circle of authors whose books are printed in eight-by-five-inch paperbacks rather than the four-by-six format romances are printed in.

Upon reflection, Ms. Roberts’ novel does not suffer much for its genre, and in fact it gives her an excuse to play a bit with form and work within a structure she so clearly enjoys and is frankly quite good at. The only casualty here, if we wish to consider him that, is the character of Cade, a rather stereotypical romantic male with a farm, an inheritance that is threatened because of his attachment with a penniless young woman, a temper he can barely control, and a mean right hook. Cade bucks tradition by farming organically rather than traditionally, and he thankfully stays out of the way for the first of Tory’s climactic confrontations and only enters the second after Tory has almost won anyway, showing that Ms. Roberts is clearly at the forefront of her genre when it comes to feminism and letting her girls participate in a little gunplay when necessary. Still, Cade strides manfully about (though not in those precise words) and says things like, ‘Woman, do you have to argue about every damn thing?’ (pg 105) that no character would ever get away with outside of the pages of a romance novel.

But overall, both for a romance novel and as a form of escapism, this novel is well worth buying. I do recommend skimming the parts where Cade appears to be suffering from ‘roid rage, but since the book is only going for one penny for a used copy on Amazon, a few references to Tory as ‘his woman’ are worth suffering through.

This book also seems to have been turned into a reasonably well-cast movie, featuring Oliver Hudson and Claire Forlani. A short trailer can be found here: the Carolina Moon part is at mark 1:00.Warning: Every Southern accent you hear is fake, as Claire Forlani and Jaqueline Bisset are English and Oliver Hudson is originally from L.A.

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Entry filed under: Contemporary Fiction, Romance and Chick Lit, Saucy Saturday. Tags: , , .

Fairy Tale Friday: The Little Mermaid Classically Surprising

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  July 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I miss our drivin’ and romance novel roadtrips! Anyway, this sounds pretty classic, particularly Cade. I’m also amused how these books so often start with a woman moving back or just going back to her home town and being bummed about it (because of her troubled past!).

    Reply
  • 2. neuroticmom  |  July 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    “the previous owner of my copy of this book had thoughtfully dogeared the pages with the more graphic of those encounters” Now that is funny :)

    Reply
  • 3. KT  |  July 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Ha ha, she totally had — and not my tiny delicate dogears, but big honking HERE IS ALL THE SEX dogears.

    And Cobor, oh my god, if we brought this on a road trip, I’d read the whole thing out loud, that’s how good it is.

    Reply
    • 4. Corey  |  July 20, 2009 at 6:30 am

      “Good” being a relative term. ;)

      We really need to roadtrip somewhere sometime…I miss long stretches of driving!

      Reply

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