I thought a love story would be appropriate for February and so this month, I’m recommending the contemporary romance, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes.
Evvie is recently widowed and lives in a big house she can no longer afford. So, when a handsome ex-baseball player wants to rent the downstairs apartment, she agrees and the sparks begin to fly.
Now, there’s not much suspense or intrigue in a romance. Readers never wonder if the characters will get together; we wonder how they’ll get together. As plots go, this novel is pretty standard.
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again.
This is exactly why we read romances.
This genre is keeping the entire traditional publishing industry afloat these days, so with literally tens of thousands (or even millions) of titles to choose from, why did I pick Holmes’s debut novel?
It’s true that the publisher promoted it heavily, the cover caught my eye (hooray for something other than a shirtless guy!) and yes, it’s a New York Times bestseller. But it was actually none of those things. It was the writing itself.
Linda Holmes has a very natural writing style and an interesting authorial voice. So often, writers want to demonstrate their cleverness with witty turns of phrase or big words that draw attention to the writing rather than to the story. Even more often, authors rehash clichés or lean on tired descriptions.
Evvie Drake Starts Over doesn’t do any of these things.
The writing is fresh and effortless and it does what good writing should do; it gets out of the way of the story.
For those who are wondering, there aren’t any sex scenes in Evvie Drake Starts Over. Holmes leaves her readers at the bedroom door. That’s annoying because, let’s face it, this is a romance. It isn’t a sweet romance (which focuses on the emotional connection rather than the physical one). It’s a straight-up contemporary romance where the two main characters are in a physical relationship.
We don’t need graphic sex scenes (most authors can’t write them well anyway), but since Holmes has chosen to make sex an important part of their relationship, she needs to give us a chance to experience it. Her choice to cut directly from the glass of wine before to the cigarette after, is unfortunate. The love story is the whole point of this kind of book and Holmes certainly has the writing chops to paint a sensual image without being overtly graphic.
Not to fear though, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable story and I’m looking forward to discovering what Linda Holmes writes next.
Available in print, digital and audio versions. Visit your local library or click here to buy the ebook. If your library doesn’t carry this book, ask them to order it.
Julia Whelan did an excellent job of capturing Evvie’s quirky personality, and because there aren’t any sex scenes, this one is ok to listen to with the kids around; maybe not really little kids but I’d say age 12 and up should be fine. If you have any concerns though, put in the headphones!