Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review- Turning the Page by Georgia Beers

Turning the Page
By Georgia Beers
268 pgs.
Renaissance Alliance Publishing

Buy it Amazon (paper,Kindle), B&N (paper, Nook)

Melanie Larson is an attractive, extremely successful business executive who shocks herself by resigning from her job when her company merges with another and relocates. While trying to decide what to do with her life next and at the urging of her uncle, Melanie heads to Rochester, New York, to stay temporarily with her cousin Samantha. She hopes to use her business savvy in an attempt to help Sam sort out the financial woes of her small bookstore.

During her stay, Melanie meets and becomes close to the family that owns the property on which Samantha lives, the charming Benjamin Rhodes, a distinguished, successful businessman, as well as his beautiful and intriguing daughter Taylor. Surprised by what and how she feels for each of them, Melanie is soon forced to face the facts and re-examine what's really important to her in life, career and love.

This is my first Georgia Beers book and it won’t be my last. This is a sweet coming out story, the kind where a character falls in love for the first time with someone of their own sex. Just the kind I really like.

What I liked: Melanie is at a turning point in her life and is in limbo about what she’ll do. Until this point, she’s focused solely on her career, putting love on the back burner. As far as she knows, she’s straight, until she meets Taylor. What I loved is that how she falls for Taylor is done nice and slowly. No big shocks or freaking out about what she starts feeling, just a nice slow progression of opening up to and acceptance that she might be a lesbian.

Melanie decides to take over a bookstore her uncle bought for her cousin after her cousin blows off, but realizes that since the big box stores are major competition, she needs to be a niche bookstore. So she decides on it being gay/lesbian oriented along with feminist offerings. This is part of her opening process.

She also becomes really good friends with Lynda, a lesbian and owner of the coffee shop next door. Since Melanie is so open, Lynda is not sure about her and invites her to a lesbian bar, where Melanie has a good time, becoming more open to her interest in all of that.

All along, Melanie has growing feelings for Taylor, the daughter of the man who owns the house Melanie’s cousin, Samantha, has been renting. But Taylor’s father also has eyes for Melanie and this becomes confusing to Melanie since she has a lot in common with him as he pursues her romantically.

Taylor makes it pretty clear that she’s very attracted to Melanie. But of course, she’s not sure if Melanie is into women so she comes on and then backs off accordingly, which actually gives Melanie a chance to ease into it since this is the first time she’s attracted to a woman.

The dance between Taylor and Melanie is done so softly and yet, it’s very clear that both have major hots for each other. All those intense feelings of attraction and falling in love come through pretty strongly in the writing and how they interact.

I liked all the characters in the story. Lynda is a fun character who adds a lot to this story as she’s sort of the go to person who helps Melanie sort out her unexpected feelings. Samantha is a bit of a caricature of a bad girl. And she has a shocking reaction at finding out that Melanie is having an affair with Taylor, which I thought was a bit over the top. But I think it fit her superficial personality.

Taylor is a genuine, sweet type of character. She’s fairly conflicted about what’s going on with her and Melanie due to issues with her father, an ex- girlfriend who keeps calling, and not being sure if Melanie is actually straight or bi or gay. But she’s a grounded girl and she just keeps putting it out there in ways that Melanie can take and so when Melanie really gets that she’s a lesbian and goes for it fully with Taylor, it’s so satisfying.

What bothered me: This is the first romance book I’ve ever read in which there are romantic competitions going on between a parent and child. I’ll admit, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Everyone knows that it happens between mothers and daughters in some situations in which jealousies and competition happen about partners, but it’s an unspoken thing that most people don’t like to acknowledge. Certainly not in a romance.

In this case, you have a lesbian daughter in competition for women with her father, who is a good looking, suave man who easily attracts women. Since Taylor’s mother died her father has been dating a lot. And he sets his eyes on Melanie almost immediately, to the chagrin of Taylor.

Although Ben, Taylor’s father, is written as a good guy, a decent man, it’s still weird for me to read a romantic triangle with a father and daughter being two parts of that triangle. Just to be clear, Melanie is about 13 years younger than Ben and about 8 years older than Taylor. So the age differences weren’t what made this squicky. It’s handled in an OK way, but it does cause some stress to Taylor to betray her father on this level. And it was just a bit weird for me.

The main thing that bothered me though had nothing to do with plot or characterization, which was well written, but more to do with writing technique. Instead of character names, phrases like “the tall one, the younger one, the older one, the brunette, the blond, the blue eyed one,” etc. were used constantly. This drove me nuts for some reason. I’m sure this is personal preference so YMMV. But after a while they stuck out like a sore thumb and pulled me out the story often. This was either the first or one of the first books Ms. Beers wrote, so maybe her writing has changed over time. I hope so on that level.

Altogether though, I loved this book. It’s full of heart and realistically written as a coming out story. Although there are quite a few stereotypical to lesbian pop culture references, it didn’t get preachy or so lesbian centric that that non lesbian readers won’t relate to it. I definitely recommend Turning the Page if you like first time experiences that turn into love stories and characters who don’t make a big deal about finding out they are gay.

Heat Level: 4—some graphic sex, mostly sensually written.

Grade: B+

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