Sunday, June 02, 2013

Those Nights in Montreal by Beverley Kendall

I think I'm pretty clear about how I feel about the New Adult/College Romance/Mature YA genre as it seems to be trending. Fortunately, Those Nights in Montreal is definitely not one of those. I think it must help that Beverley Kendall is an established writer who actually knows how to construct a story and bring characters to life in form recognizable to the average non-dysfunctional reader. This is a novella that has more life in it than a lot of the full-length novels that can't hold a plotline or develop rounded characters. I was pleasantly surprised how much the author incorporated into the story with detracting from the romance. Even the length of the story was just right.

Becca and Scott are exes who haven't quite gotten closure. They broke up a year ago and Scott begins working to win her back. They air their grievances and try to work things out. Becca thinks that sex has allowed them to avoid confronting their issues in the past (smart girl), so she puts a moratorium on that activity (hmm, good luck with that). Spring break rolls around and the couple joins two other couples at a vacation home in Montreal where their resolve and the status of their relationship is put to the test.

I love the conflict, the tension, the narration. Becca and Scott take turns narrating in the first person and right off the bat each has a distinctive voice. Scott sounds like a realistic guy, although thankfully without the current slang that would date a book like this by next month. Becca is a great girl too - she's got backbone, good friends, priorities, and self-respect. Besides their relationship conflict, Becca and her dad are estranged, but that is handled gracefully and doesn't push too far to wrap things up with a bow. Scott also has insecurities, which I found very realistic and comforting in how well they are portrayed and dealt with. It's quite a skill to include external elements to the mix without making it all about them. I prefer my romances to be about the people in it, not some bizarre happenstance that throws two people together with no foundation. I found myself really rooting for these two because they show their vulnerabilities to each other, build trust, and expand their hearts to forgive and understand - and it makes the sex that much hotter.

It's rare to find characters that you actually would enjoy being friends with just because they are great people. I found the same for the secondary characters and am dying for the next book to come out. I've got the first of the series lined up to review, When in Paris..., and can't wait to talk about Olivia and Zach. I'm usually not impressed with contemporary romances, but this series is worth going on the keeper shelf.

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