There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to [email protected]
Doc In Distres
Sandra Brown’s new bestseller Mean Streak may not be classified as chick-lit, but the romantic thriller has been written for a predominantly female readership. The heroine’s appearance is wrapped up in a few lines, but the hero’s eyes, muscles, arms, chest, height—his all-American maleness come up for detailed descriptions several times. The handsome, brooding bloke also has a mysterious past—to tame a man like that would be a fantasy for many women.
Emory Charbonneau is a wealthy paediatrician and marathon runner. Her marriage to finance professional Jeff is already in trouble when she goes off on her own to a remote mountain trail to train for an upcoming race for charity. She doesn’t know it then, but Jeff is having an affair with her best friend Alice.
She wakes up with a head injury in a rugged log cabin, where the well-built, aquamarine-eyed stranger has been looking after her. He does all it takes to make her comfortable and pain-free, but won’t tell her his name or anything else. He claims he cannot call emergency services because he does not have a phone, and her phone’s battery is dead. He cannot take her back to the nearest town either, because snow and fog have made the roads dangerous to drive on.
After two days of not hearing from her, Jeff goes to the cops, but the two police officers, Knight and Grange who work on the case, have reason to believe that Jeff could have killed her and is playing the role of the worried husband to fool them.
In yet another strand, an FBI agent, Connell, is hunting for the mountain man, in connection with a mass shooting some years ago.
Captive in the cabin, in fragile emotional state, Emory is as afraid of her rescuer/captor as she is attracted to him. When he drags her off to steal medical supplies to treat a young girl in the neighbourhood, who has been brutalised by her brothers, she is even more confused – the man is violent towards the delinquent brothers, but treats the girl with tenderness and care. Emory succumbs to his magnetism, and some steamy sex follows.
After four days, when he releases her back to civilisation, Emory has to tell the detectives a bunch of half truths, because she does not want them to hunt for the man. But he has left a trace that brings Connell rushing there, which is when his name is revealed, as well as his complicated past.
There are many more twists and turns to the story, which is fast-paced and efficiently written, but also formulaic—perhaps Brown’s readers want it that way. Still it’s a quick, light entertaining read.
By Sandra Brown
Published by Grand Central
Excerpt from Mean Streak
Her breath caught when he started toward the bed, but after setting the bottle of analgesics and the can of Coke on the night stand, he walked past and went into the bathroom, returning within seconds with the bottle of peroxide and an applicator formed of folded toilet paper squares.
“I don’t have any cotton or gauze,” he said as he poured the solution onto the toilet paper. He set down the bottle and leaned toward her.
“I’ll do that.”
“You can’t see it. If you start feeling around, you might reopen the cut.”
She knew that to be true, so she lowered her hands.
“Turn your head. . .” He nudged her chin with the back of his hand. She complied and sat there, strained and nervous, while he dabbed at the wound.
“Does that hurt?”
“A little.” It hurt like hell, but she couldn’t think of a proper way to phrase it without sounding critical. In fact it was hard to think of anything with him standing so close, bending over her. The proximity of her face to his middle was unsettling and she didn’t breathe until he said, “There,” and stepped away.
“I hate to dirty another pillowcase.”
“Blood washes out. Most of the time.” He picked up the pill bottle and shook two into his palm, then extended his hand to her. “They’ll help with the headache.”
“I’ll wait to take them. See how I do.”
He looked prepared to argue, but returned the tablets to the bottle and replaced it on the night stand. “They’re there if you change your mind. Let me know if you need anything else.”
“Thank you. I will. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
“Maybe I should wake you up at intervals. Just to make sure you’re all right, to make sure that I can wake you up.”
“That’s a good idea, but rather than disturb you, I’ll set alarms on my wristwatch.”
He looked prepared to argue, but finally said, “Suit yourself,” and turned away. She lay down and pulled the covers to her chin. Although she closed her eyes, her ears were on high alert as she listened to him moving about the room, adding logs to the grate, scooting the fire screen back into place.
Blood washes out. Most of the time. Spoken like someone who had experience with that dilemma.
She shuddered to think how susceptible she was. She couldn’t even stand alone for more than a couple of minutes. If she had to protect herself, what would she do?
While in college she’d taken a self-defense class, but that had been a long time ago. All she recalled of it now was not to think of the assailant as a whole, but to focus on individual parts of him that were vulnerable to counterattack. Eyes, nose, ears, testicles. She feared that rule wouldn’t apply to a man who appeared as solid as a redwood.
She wished she’d secreted one of those deadly looking bullets. The tip of one jammed into an eyeball would do serious damage. It would stop even a giant long enough to slip past him.
She heard what sounded like boots hitting the wood floor muffled by the carpet, then the squeak of leather as he settled on one of the pieces of furniture. The lamp went out. She opened her eyes to slits and saw that he’d chosen the recliner over the sofa. He was leaned back in it, a quilt pulled over him to mid-torso.
Disconcertingly, he was looking straight at her, his eyes reflecting the firelight like those of a predatory animal.
His voice rumbled across the distance between them. “Relax, Doc. If I was going to hurt you, I would have by now.”
Reason told her that was true. She’d been sleeping defenselessly all afternoon and he hadn’t harmed her. Nevertheless. . .
“Why did you bring me here?”
“But I don’t believe it’s the truth. Not completely.”
“I can’t control what you believe. But you don’t have to be afraid of me.”
After a time, she asked, “Is Drakeland the nearest town?”
“You’ve never heard of it.”
“How far is it?”
“As the crow flies? Twelve miles.”
“And by road?”
“I could easily run that. Going downhill, that wouldn’t be a challenging distance for me.”
He didn’t say, Oh, for godsake, lady, you’ve got a concussion and can’t even walk a straight line, much less run one. He didn’t say anything at all, which was more unnerving than if he’d cited how illogical that prospect was. His silence was also more menacing than if he’d told her flat out that she wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, that he’d brought her here to be his sex slave, and that upon pain of death, she had better not be plotting an escape.
By Rasika Pote
When you get a big wide smile on your face after a book ends, it is a testimony that the novel was worth reading till its last page and also it had a gripping story. He Fixed The Match, And She Fixed Him by Shikha Kumar was one such book which kept me wanting to read more as the pages turned unfolding the lives of Shreya K and Kunal K. Shreya and Kunal resemble the two people on the cover page of the book with their personalities apart yet bound together by destiny.
While you begin reading the book, the first few chapters reveal the first card of suspense but the quest to know more is cleverly tackled by the author. The writing style is engaging, keeping the underlying intense emotion intact. As the story advances the depth of the relationship between Kunal and Shreya moves the reader emotionally.
All the characters in the book appear very real and made me feel a part of their every discussion. There is no guest appearance of any character in the book; all the characters have a significant contribution to make to the story. This makes it an easy read as you don’t lose the identity of any character while you go ahead exploring the story. There are no abrupt ends to a chapter, but surely a beginning in each one.
Overall, the experience of reading He Fixed The Match, And She Fixed Him is intriguing. Shikha has knitted the storyline with the threads of suspense, revenge, love, emotions, humour and being humanness. While it has all the elements of a typical hindi film, the author has earned her brownie points by giving an avid reader the dose of intense fictional storytelling.
To find out what is the miss-match in this perfect match, Shikha Kumar has a story to tell.
He Fixed The Match, And She Fixed Him
by Shikha Kumar
Published by Vitasta