Book Review

Truths and Roses by Inglath Cooper

B

Title: Truths and Roses
Author: Inglath Cooper
Publication Info: Fence Free Entertainment, LLC 2011
ISBN: 9780615505732
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Cover

I found this book because of a Facebook ad. If you follow me on Twitter or are subscribed to the SBTB Facebook page, you saw me talking about it yesterday. Here's the ad:

 

This ad worked for me so well I was astonished. Hero description, heroine description, briefest plot summary with hints at the tropes to be used.

I WAS SO THERE.

Then I got a look at the cover. Beautiful! Looks…professional!

Add to that the .99c price, and it was not difficult to click the ad, look at the book description, and click to buy. And judging from the link traffic stats, many of you did, too. I hope you enjoyed the book as much as I did.

Will Kincaid is a former NFL receiver who blows out his knee making a Superbowl-winning catch and will likely never play football again. Unsure of what to do with himself, and not wanting to hawk underwear on tv (as he says several times in the course of the story), Will moves home to Lake Perdue, the small Virginia town where he grew up. He does so partially to appease his mildly overbearing father and partially to hide out from the pile up of fame-and-fortune offers his agent was fielding on his behalf. He wanted time to think and time to be left alone.

On his first drive into town – running late for the parade in his honor (oops) – he rear-ends Hannah Jacobs with his Ferrari. Hannah knew Will in high school, and their past is complicated and filled with misunderstood feelings. Hannah was the smartest girl in school, and Will had expected her to go away to college, so he's surprised to learn that she never left town. She lives in the home she grew up in, cares for the aunt who raised her, and works as a librarian. She's something of a recluse, and when she first runs into Will (literally) she pulls a hat on her head and a scarf over her mouth so he won't recognize her. Hannah very much wants to be invisible.

Ultimately Will recognizes her, remembers their past (and the misunderstandings within it) and seeks her own, which is horribly embarrassing to Hannah, because everything Will does in town is subject to never-ending speculation by the townspeople, who are all aflutter over the town's new homegrown celebrity. The locals can't get enough of Will, and their admiration and attention bothers Hannah – and also Will, who is used to it but is also uncomfortable with it at times.

The story traces a year or so in the town as Will and Hannah work together on a special project for the town, one that gives Will a feeling of purpose and direction and that immeasurably helps Hannah in a professional sense.

I thought the story was simple, friendly, and sweet. It was very easy to read and very absorbing – but there were moments of really beautiful writing too.

There's small town romance, and a limited cast of characters, but enough people with real emotions and interactions that I cared about all of them. I genuinely liked the hero and heroine, and their secrets and problems (and their way of handling them) seemed real to me. What could have easily been trite and overwrought was not.

I had to ask myself if the “wallflower librarian” stereotype would piss off some folks who might read it, especially since initially Will is rather judgmental of Hannah's choices and her life, pointing out that she's an “old maid” hiding from life and everyone.

I don't think so, but I can't predict other people's reactions accurately most of the time. I thought Hannah's profession as a librarian didn't seem to me to be so much a stereotyped portrayal as an accurate representation of how she personally coped with her secret. She read and escaped into books for years, and so it seemed like a natural extension that she would become a librarian.

There were also moments of heavy symbolism, repetition (Will whines or mentions his knee a LOT in the beginning, prompting me to note, “I Get It. You have a Bad Knee”) and flashback conversations between teenage Will and Hannah that are too arch and symbolic to be believable, but even with those heavy handed moments, I kept going eagerly to see what happened – even though I knew the big twists and turns that were coming. I saw the big secrets long before they were revealed, but I still wanted to know how the characters would handle them, and what would happen. What I liked very much was that the handling of the issues and secrets was not a simple process, and for each character took time and effort. No one was cured by the magic wang in this book (and NB: the sex scenes are fade to black).

I also found Will's father to be predictable in his antagonism, and thought he was among the least-well-developed characters, along with the town sheriff. Yet even with the thin character development, Will's relationship with his father isn't neatly handled, and I appreciated that realistic portrayal of troublesome family relationships. For me, every time there was something that bothered me a bit, there was something else done well that balanced it out.

One reader on Facebook mentioned that this book had originally been published as a Harlequin/Silhouette SuperRomance in the 90s – but I couldn't find information on the original title of the book. The possibility that it was an older romance shows in a few places.

First, there's a gathering of some characters in a town call, and there's the smell of cigarette smoke in the air. My understanding is that most towns ban smoking inside public buildings nowadays – though this was a rural setting and I could be wrong about that. I also raised a brow at the idea that Hannah's library wasn't computerized and still relied on stamp check-out cards. Will's ex-girlfriend's name is “Grace,” which, HA!

Also, there's one scene where the hero consults a doctor in a major town many miles away, and that seemed outdated to me as well, since the reason for seeing the doctor was something that would very likely have been treatable by a professional closer to home. However, the hero's status as an ex-NFL player probably factored into his decision to leave town to seek that doctor's expertise.

This description really dated it for me though:

He still preferred Levi’s, the kind that had been washed so many times they’d gone soft and white. Today he’d paired them with a denim and a worn-looking leather jacket that cost more than a lot of used cars. He wore equally well-worn loafers on sockless feet. He hated socks.

Loafers without socks, and a denim shirt with jeans? Isn't that a Canadian tuxedo? You are some hot stuff there, Will. WOO!

For those who were confused by the grammar of the title, the words come from the phrase, “Truths like roses have thorns about them,” coined by Thoreau. In this case, the roses are a motif that appears in the story a few times, one that ties the heroine to her home, and also comes to symbolize her determination. 

This book was often tipping side to side in my esteem, at times too heavy handed, at times deft and elegant in the writing and descriptions. I was feeling a lot of trepidation about reading this book since I'd tweeted about who the ad had worked for me. What if the ad worked and the book did not? I was almost waiting to hate it, and I kept checking my own reaction. Was I still charmed? Did I want to read more? In the end, I put aside work in the evening to read more and I stayed up later than I should have to finish it. It was friendly and sweet, and a very quick read for me. Definitely .99c well spent, and a Facebook ad well-clicked. 


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | iTunes

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    quichepup says:

    Even small-town librarians have to leave home to attend college to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees. Even the loafers without socks (stinky shoes) did not bother me as much.

    If it was stated this was set in the early 80’s I might be OK with most of these details, otherwise it could use some updating.

  2. 2
    quichepup says:

    Even small-town librarians have to leave home to attend college to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees. Even the loafers without socks (stinky shoes) did not bother me as much.

    If it was stated this was set in the early 80’s I might be OK with most of these details, otherwise it could use some updating.

  3. 3
    Quichepup says:

    Even small-town librarians have to leave home to attend college to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees. Even the loafers without socks (stinky shoes) did not bother me as much.

    If it was stated this was set in the early 80’s I might be OK with most of these details, otherwise it could use some updating.

  4. 4
    Hybridhelen says:

    oooh, I’m intrigued! I’ve read one book by this author, where the heroine is the one who left town/returns 10 years later, and found it really touching. Think I’m going to have to give this one a go.

  5. 5
    quichepup says:

    Even small-town librarians have to leave home to attend college to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees. The loafers without socks (stinky shoes) did not bother me as much as this did.

    If it was stated this was set in the early 80’s I might be OK with most of these details, otherwise it could use some updating.

  6. 6
    Jenfusco says:

    You know you love the Canadian Tux.  Don’t lie.

  7. 7
    Hannah says:

    Fun fact the name Hannah is often said to mean grace or full of grace… So with an ex-girlfriend named Grace is this by chance a theme in the novel?

  8. 8

    Side note about the librarian things: I do have a master’s and am a working librarian :) In my previous job (which ended less than a year ago), I consulted and worked with *many* small-town librarians who did not have a master’s degree, and quite a few who didn’t have a bachelor’s. The towns honestly couldn’t afford to pay people with advanced degrees to work in those positions. Depending on the size of the town, I could have bought in to her never having left town and still becoming the librarian. Also, re: the computerization of the library. Yup, worked with a lot of libraries whose collections were not available on the computer (though they did have internet-access computers), and still used the stamped card check out system.

    As I just finished reading Linda Howard’s Open Season about another small-town librarian, I would totally be all over this.

  9. 9
    SB Sarah says:

    Fine, yeah, I think it’s totally hot. But only with a string tie.

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    @quichepup: Sorry about the duplicate comments. It’s being “worked on” from what I can tell, but I deleted the duplicates. Sorry about that!

  11. 11
    Cheryl says:

    I bought this yesterday as a result of your tweet and read it before the kiddies were home from school.

    On page 4, the author wrote a note to readers stating that this book was orginially published in 1994 so I was prepared to see some outdated items (although it did feel more 1988 to me). The clothing descriptions were kind of amusing, albeit true if you saw the note and took it into consideration. I particularly liked the red evening dress she bought where the sleeves were full at the top and narrowed at her elbow. It immediately conjured up images of Krystle Carrington in Dynasty! Hee.

    My only disappointment was in regards to the ending. I love big red bows on my happy endings, but I think authors sometimes go too far to give it to us. i.e. He’s so popular! And elected President! And she’s brillant! And won the Nobel Prize! And they have 2.2 kids and a mini van. And to top it off, the puppies they found by the side of the road won the Westminster Dog Show! I am exaggerating, of course, and those aren’t spoilers peeps. :) But this is one book where I felt the happy ending went just a tad too far and ended into shmoopy land.

    Aside from that, I did enjoy it.

  12. 12
    Cheryl says:

    I bought this yesterday as a result of your tweet and read it before the kiddies were home from school.

    On page 4, the author wrote a note to readers stating the book was orginially published in 1994, so I was prepared to see some outdated items (although it did feel more 1988 to me). The clothing descriptions were kind of amusing, albeit true. I particularly liked the red evening dress she bought where the sleeves were full at the top and narrowed at her elbow. It immediately conjured up images of Krystle Carrington in Dynasty! Hee.

    My only disappointment was in regards to the ending. I love big red bows on my happy endings, but I think authors sometimes go too far to give it to us. i.e. He’s so popular! And elected President! And she’s brillant! And won the Nobel Prize! And they have 2.2 kids and a mini van. And to top it off, the puppies they found by the side of the road won the Westminster Dog Show! I am exaggerating, of course, and those aren’t spoilers peeps. :) But this is one book where I felt the happy ending went just a tad too far and ended into shmoopy land.

    Aside from that, I did enjoy it.

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:

    I completely missed the note about the original publication – my copy must have opened right up to page 1, chapter 1. Thank you! And yes, I was TOTALLY thinking Dynasty with the sleeve description. Either that or Anne of Green Gables (PUFF SLEEVES!).

    It was a schmoopy ending, but the book was so sweet while dealing with some painful issues that I didn’t mind as much. Seriously, it’s like I enjoyed this book despite myself. It was uncommonly sweet.

  14. 14
    JG says:

    This plot sounds a lot like _The Penalty Box_ by Diedre Martin (depressed star hockey player who can never play again goes back to hometown to run bar, former overweight high school classmate comes back to town for high school reunion, they start relationship and deal with Issues)

  15. 15
    JG says:

    This plot sounds a lot like _The Penalty Box_ by Diedre Martin (depressed star hockey player who can never play again goes back to hometown to run bar, former overweight high school classmate comes back to town for high school reunion, they start relationship and deal with Issues)

  16. 16
    Paula says:

    Here’s info on the original publication:
    http://www.fictiondb.com/autho…

    The title was the same, but the author’s pseudonym(?) was slightly different.

  17. 17
    cayenne says:

    In Canada, we call that the Texas Tuxedo.  The main difference is that we wear it with a red flannel shirt/waistcoat, formal mukluks optional.

  18. 18
    TaraL says:

    About small-town living, our library (in a town of 13K) just switched the catalog over to computer at the beginning of 2011. My niece moved to an even smaller town (pop. 1800) last summer and was surprised to find them still using cards and date stamps there. Our library has 3 permanent employees and—I believe, I could be wrong—none of them have degrees.

    Also, I can get most basic medical stuff done at my doctor’s office or the regional hospital, but prefer to drive about an hour to get to my GYN appointments. I also opted to have my colonoscopy and gall bladder removal at the larger facilities an hour away. Same doctor, just larger facilities. He only works at the smaller, regional hospital one day a week and if there’s one hiccup in his schedule, you’re waiting for hours in pre-op. I know. I’ve sat there all day with my mother and my husband because it didn’t seem worth it to them to make the drive. I figure 2 extra hours in the car with music blasting is better than spending the time whispering in a cubicle with my ass hanging out of a hospital gown.

    As to the book, yeah, it sounds like just the sort of thing I’d like. I clicked through and bought it when you got to the 99 cent price, before I’d read the rest of the review.

  19. 19
    ksattler says:

    You can do online to get your masters.  UIUC has an accredited option for Librarians.

  20. 20
    ksattler says:

    My primary challenge that had me reading the ad multiple times is I read “Will” as a verb not a noun.  So, I was struggling with what Kincaid the football player will do since there was no verb.  Will he do what with the librarian?  Then, ahhhh, Will is his name not a question.  Probably shouldn’t have admitted that.

  21. 21
    Donna says:

    And a flannel shirt.

  22. 22
    Donna says:

    And Texans add a cowboy hat, not optional.

  23. 23
    Rita says:

    So glad I saw your tweet yesterday. I downloaded this book last night and I really enjoyed it. Definitely .99 cents well spent. Thanks for sharing this sweet find.

  24. 24
    Shevaun says:

    Yeah, your tweets influenced me, and I purchased it. I liked it, even though I knew what the secrets were from the 1st chapter. The thing that really bugged me, though, was the handling of the villain. His job, the bar, his secret, it was all just…blech. Not well developed at all. But still, I agree with you. very sweet.

  25. 25
    SB Sarah says:

    Ah ha! That’s probably why I couldn’t find it – thanks!

  26. 26
    SB Sarah says:

    I need a pair of formal mukluks. To Canada!

  27. 27
    SB Sarah says:

    @Shevaun: I wanted the villain to get a royal ass kicking larger than he did. Epic whoop ass was needed, and was not administered!

    Thank you to everyone who corrected me about the technological advancement of rural libraries. I wonder what the percentages are of libraries who are still not digitally cataloged, and what the changes are like when a library system switches over.

    Seriously, library education (i.e. learning about libraries and how they work) is my favorite sport now.

  28. 28
    Joanne says:

    I’ve gotten into the habit of going to the cover to start my ebooks from Amazon because so many start at (damn the no page number thing) a ‘seemingly’ random 6 to 10% and in the past I had missed a few notes from the authors or publishers.

  29. 29
    Alina says:

    Wait, if it was first published in 1994, how come it mentions iPads? Was this updated for the e-book release? Seems kind of silly to update one line (it’s about what kind of hobbies “kids” enjoy, so I guess it had whatever was popular in the mid-90s originally), but not update the fashion or anything else.

  30. 30
    Copa says:

    I just moved to the city I go to school in, but for the past two years I’ve been driving 2 hours each way, twice a week, to go to school. I have no right to judge anyone else on how often/long they drive for anything.

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