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Jane Lovering

REVIEW: Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering

REVIEW: Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering

This book won the RNA Romance Novel of the Year Award for 2011. The RNA Award is unique because it involves readers, authors and other industry professionals working together to award one book. I thought it would be fun to repost the review.

“How much can you hide?

Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail – until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts.
But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse?
And the curiosity is mutual – which means that her own secret is no longer safe …”

Dear Ms. Lovering,

Since I enjoyed the first book of yours I read, “Slightly Foxed,” I jumped at the chance to check out your latest release, “Please Don’t Stop the Music.” Your description of it as a ‘dark psychological romance – with jokes’ is dead on. I knew from the beginning that there were going to be angsty emotional revelations along the way but I still enjoy laughing a bit on the road to them.

Please Don't Stop the Music by Jane LoveringThese are two very wounded people who have both current and past problems. They have to open up in order to heal and allow for possible future love and you take the time to pry them open, almost like clams, to allow this. Thank you for giving them REAL problems and not just “I’m so misunderstood by the world” navel gazing idiocy. I like that you give us some clues about what these issues are – it’s not all coy as some stories are – but the final revelations are still powerful and haunting. But it’s good that Rosie and Jason realize that Jem is hiding something – what friends would they be if they didn’t plus they’d look like idjuts.

I can kind of understand why Jem keeps running and almost runs again one last time. She’s got some serious self-esteem issues she has to deal with. Her warped views on sexuality were gained at a relatively young age and she’s both ashamed of what she allowed to happen and still not quite over it. But as Ben points out – look how she’s grown in the time since he’s met her. She is willing to confront Saskia (what’s with the popularity of this name anyway?) to help her friend Rosie and him and at least she realizes what her problem is even if she’s still sees running as how to overcome it. Ben does a wonderful thing for her in following her and *showing* her what she means to him. I don’t think Jem would believe it any other way.

Ben also has to overcome not only his “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” past but also the guilt over how he left the band and the grief of the reason why. He had to get over the ‘towering artiste knocked down in his prime’ delusion. But get beyond it he finally does as he admits that he wouldn’t take his past back as a gift if it meant not having Jem in his life. That was a powerful revelation. No, he’ll never play again but he can still work in music.

Even after the explanations of why she did it, I have to say that Saskia gets away with too much. Her reason for what she did doesn’t excuse her for trying to ruin two lives – and harming Ben’s business as well. And she appears to be walking away from it scot free. Perhaps Jem and Ben will put the York trade authority screws to her but I needed to see some punishment or retribution.

I love that baby Harry isn’t a little bundle of total joy and happiness for Rosie. He’s not just a plot moppet but a real influence on Rosie and Jem and Jason’s lives. Rosie’s issues are certainly different and I did wonder about her relationship with the father but you turned that for an interesting twist as well. I like the sort of open ended finale – Jem and Ben look to be working things out. Jason and Rosie as well but no wedding bells are shown yet.

Yeah for the York setting again. Yes, there are other parts of England besides the Home Counties and London and I’m delighted to see them! I love the image of the center of York with streets that fold in on each other and hidden nooks and crannies. Plus I enjoyed the sardonic English humor in the story. Jem and Ben take the piss out of each other on a regular basis.

The book is Chick Lit’ish in that it’s mainly first person but there’s much more angst and we get Ben’s thoughts through his journal, which I loved. You’ve done a good job showing the arc of the characters’ development and change – of Jem and Ben falling in trust with each other, feeling safe and happy with each other, then falling in love. You put these two through the wringer a time or three but theirs is a HEA I believe in. B


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REVIEW: Slightly Foxed by Jane Lovering

REVIEW: Slightly Foxed by Jane Lovering

Dear Ms. Lovering,

What interested me in “Slightly Foxed?” The blurb.

They say you’ll know when you’re in love. What if you don’t?

Alys, a single parent and certified romantic disaster area, is always falling for unattainable men-’the latest one being the dead author of a "borrowed" book of poetry. When she reluctantly returns the book to its rightful owner, she meets Leo. He’s very much alive, very much attracted to her and, well, it’s love at first sight.

Isn’t it?

After all, she’s a single mum with a boring job in a bookshop and, as her daughter puts it, gravity’s not going to hold off forever. Leo’s got the financial stability she’s been craving and he looks like an aftershave advert. So it must be love.

Mustn’t it?

Then there’s Piers, whose spontaneity draws her like a magnet. But is it love she feels, or just his infectious love of life? Before she can choose, an unexpected source threatens to lay bare the lie she has been living for the last sixteen years.

With happiness close to slipping out of her grasp, Alys is forced to ask herself whether she’s ever really been in love at all.

The question of whether or not a person knows she’s in love. Lots of books feature love at first sight but what if the heroine genuinely isn’t sure? What if a guy is perfect, meets all her criteria, ought to be The One but she’s still not able to convince herself? How will an author work that out?

Another plus for me is the heroine. “Slightly Foxed” is more an adult Chick Lit style with Alys being a 36 year old mother of a 16 year old girl. Hey, I’ll never see 36 again but it’s nice to read about a heroine of that age who’s still attracting attention from men. She has obligatory Chick Lit dead end job working in a bookstore, lives in England – though in York for a change from usual London. Alys two men in her life and leads the reader on a merry chase before finally deciding on who the Right One. I like that she faces some harsh truths about herself and goes into the final relationship with open eyes.

Revealing who Alys finally realizes she’s in love with needs a spoiler to hide who she ultimately goes for. Though of course everyone in her life can see who truly fancies her and who makes her light up in his presence. I had a feeling she’d end up with Piers. After all, most Chick Lit heroines initially go for the man who won’t make the grade while ignoring the perfect man who’s right under their noses. And brave you for going for a May/August romance. Not too many of those in romance novels.

I like that Piers is interested in being Alys’s friend as well as her lover. He cares about her daily life, takes care of her after too much undoubtedly cheap wine and reminds her that if he’d just wanted her body, he could have had her the night when her Big Secret was revealed. Instead he wants her to want him, want sex, want them. And if she’s tempted to question his commitment, he reminds her he’s felt this way, and fought it, for four years. He knows they’re going to catch grief but is ready and willing to deal with it because she’s worth it. How can any heroine not puddle into mush at that?

Since I’m a long-standing cat fancier, I love Grainger, the grouchy curmudgeon in fur, and Casper the kitten stand-in for tissues. Though I cringed to see Alys seemingly abandon them at the end to head off into the sunset with her true love.

The humor had me in stitches such Alys’s views on Devon.

Past? From where to where? On a tour of obscure backwaters which haven’t featured anywhere since the Domesday Book writers rode through and thought, Oh, go on then, might as well use up this ink?

Or her thoughts as Leo kisses her

He grabbed me very firmly by both shoulders and kissed me deeply. I’d got used to being kissed by men who made the event feel as though my face was being attacked by half a pound of raw liver, but Leo-’well, let’s just say he was hot.

or has to change a flat.

I was glad that Leo was happy to do the macho thing with jacks and wheelbraces while I sat on the verge. I’d thought he was too good to be true. He’d not shown any of the signs that men who wanted to date me normally displayed, i.e., traveling everywhere by bus with a stolen pensioner’s pass. Now he was, whoa, taking his shirt off. There was a sudden, almost reverential, lapse in my thinking ability while I watched a Diet Coke ad come to life in front of me.

And what woman, once she’s seen it, can forget the Diet Coke ad! Grrrrr, yum.

I delighted in the sharp descriptions.

Webbe’s stood at the tail end of one of York’s most popular tourist streets, where all the shops were so old and bent together that they looked like a pensioner’s outing. The bookshop’s walls hung unwillingly towards its next-door neighbour, an antique shop which sold overpolished copper warming pans, and with whose owner Simon carried on a viciously polite war of attrition over pavement space. The entire area was so self-consciously historic that I felt I should tint myself sepia just to work there.

Seventeen years of containment, of a memory dam which had resisted all other forces, gone in one night. Now, it wasn’t so much a question of facing the music, more of facing a full symphonic orchestra with a nuclear string section.
I staggered out of bed, wincing as my feet touched the floor and my legs
straightened. There was a cracking sound from my spine as I reached full height and dragged myself over to the small low window by judicious use of pieces of furniture. I had to lean quite heavily on the sill and close my eyes until the outside world stopped spinning, and I could get a proper look at it.
Oh shit. I mean, really, really shitty shit. With a big side order of fuuuuuuuckkkk.
The view wasn’t familiar. Not exactly. But I did know where I was. Oh God,
someone was going to die for this. It might be me.

Alys’s former husband turns out to be a good egg and not as oblivious as Alys hopes. Which speaks well for her since I hate it when a heroine’s choices in men make her look like a moron. Alasdair will be a good father to his second child as well as continuing to provide for Florrie. Alys’s relationship with her teenage daughter is great. One minute teenage angsting, the next reverting to a little girl’s despair for her aging pet, all followed by signs of the mature young woman waiting in the wings.

I have to ask where Pier’s use of “Ma” comes from. All I could think of were the famous “Ma and Pa Kettle” movies. I have never heard anyone use that term. It’s always Mom, Mommy or, if her offspring are peeved, Mother!

The epilogue…well let’s just say epilogues and I don’t usually get along well and this is a prime example of why. ‘Nuff said. The pace is at times a little slow but I thoroughly enjoyed the overall journey. B


This book can be purchased at Samhain Publishing.