Dear Ms. Blake:
I really enjoyed True North. I thought the heroine’s voice was great. I believed in the conflict and felt like it was resolved in a way that was believable for all parties. To my great delight True Devotion was available to read. I requested it right away.
True Devotion features the sister of the hero in True North, Devon Jenkins, and the band’s guitar player, Simon Cole. At the beginning of True Devotion, Simon Cole is portrayed as the stereotypical rock star trying to hit on any pretty girl and trying to drink every possible drop of liquor in the room. Because of this perception, then attempts to distance herself from Simon even though she has a strong attraction for him.
Devon’s choice of males has been suspect. The last meaningful relationship she had was with an abusive boyfriend back in her hometown of Cleveland. Devon has low self-esteem which she covers with a lot of bravado. At some point she convinces herself that sleeping with Simon (and hiding it from her brother) is consistent with her trashy upbringing and that she doesn’t deserve any more.
Problematically, Simon is portrayed as the most sensitive, kind, thoughtful, and giving boyfriend in fiction. While intellectually I understood Devon’s resistance, it was challenging to watch her continually rebuff Simon.
On paper, the conflict makes sense. Simon is a very decent person. He comes from an extremely wealthy background. His mother had died of cancer yet he remains close to his father and serves on the family’s charitable foundation. I believe the idea was that the more that we saw Simon being good, decent, and worthwhile the less that Devon believed in her chances of being a good match for Simon. The better Simon was, the greater Devon’s insecurities.
Ultimately the story is then about Devon’s acceptance of herself as a person of worth. We, the reader, see her as a loving aunt, a decent person. It’s hard to understand where the deep well of her insecurity comes from. Yes, she had made a bad decision in her past. And many domestic abuse victims suffer from that loss of personal self worth but I guess I didn’t see enough of it to be convinced.
A friend of mine read the book and commented that the whole narration seemed muffled to her and I felt like that was an apt description. Devon’s point of view came through but none of the emotions seemed particularly strong on the page. I’m still on board with Blake’s writing and I’ll definitely buy the next one that comes out. And I think that anyone who enjoys the hero in pursuit storyline would appreciate Simon.