Some time ago, I reviewed a book by Jane Porter, The Sicilian’s Defiant Mistress on my blog (hint: it wasn’t a glowing review). After the fact, Ms. Porter herself stopped by and left a nice comment. Then sometime later, a fan of Ms. Porter’s came upon my blog review, by way of Google, and left a countering review, quite glowing. It was always my intention to do a post highlighting that review, to give the book it’s fair shake and show the opposite view to mine.

I was reminded of this intention last week when Sharon at WriteMinded wrote a post and mentioned her love of Jane Porter books.

You can read my original review of Jane Porter’s here. But to give you a taste of the review:

I didn’t care for anything about this book. The heroine (formarly the hero’s mistress of 2 1/2 years) is described as being a tough, unemotional, strong ballbuster. In reality she’s a spineless, weepy, indecisive, emotionally dependant idiot. The entire book consists of her being angry, thinking she has to be stronger, not give in to him and blah blah blah. What does she do immediately after thinking these things? Gives in. Repeatedly. This guy walked all over her, he stomped her into the ground and supposedly pulverized her heart and she just keeps coming back for more. I would have shouted at her to grow a freaking spine but Josh was asleep and really, talking to books never seems to do any good.

In retrospect, I must have been having a really bad reading spell or was quite cranky because I put that quite bluntly, didn’t I, lol? But in reality, I remember being very frustrated with the inconsistencies in the book. Yet in light of my unfavorable review, Jane Porter left a nice remark.

As a fellow blogger, although to be fair, mine isn’t exactly a real blog, I enjoyed your post on The Sicilian’s Defiant Mistress. I did write it. It is my book. I didn’t name it. And it’s generated a ton of reader mail–some negative, some glowingly positive–and I’m glad I wrote the book. It was a huge challenge and even if god-awful, it was exciting to take forbidden themes, horrible hero, shattered heroine and try to put a story together with it. Is this a typical Presents? I doubt it. Is this typical me? Possibly. But thanks for reading it and posting. It’s cool to be on your blog.

Best,

Jane

Now, a few weeks after that review was written, this showed up in my comments and I think it’s only fair to bring it to a post, so people get an opposing viewpoint on the book. She spends some time discussing the hero’s actions, about the fact that he was married and having an extra-marital affair and so forth. Honestly, this didn’t give me issues with the book because of how it was presented. Many of the things this reader discusses in her comments, really wasn’t what put me off. Anyhow, enough about my non-love of the book, read on for the opposite point of view…

Wow – I’ve got to thank you all for the variety of opinions here. It’s always interesting to see how the other half lives (and thinks!).

Yes – you’ve guessed it right – I’m one of the gals from the opposite end of the spectrum. I *loved* THE SICILIAN’S DEFIANT MISTRESS and I’ll tell you why – because it tackled an issue that’s difficult to write. It’s about *real life*…. It’s about *real people* and yeah, in case you didn’t know already, there really are people out there in the real world who get involved in extra-marital affairs because they fall in love with the right person at the wrong time but their life commitments don’t allow them to be with the one they love – so they just grab onto what they can and try to make the best of it for as long as they can. Go with their heart even though their mind is telling them something completely different.

Was Max right in not contacting Cass even after his wife died? No. He should have contacted her – should have told her the truth from the very beginning but he didn’t. It’s not an easy thing to admit and in his case, given his personality, it was exceptionally hard. But you see, that’s all part of what makes this story what it is. Real life. Haven’t you ever hung back from admitting the truth about something because you didn’t want to face the consequences? Isn’t it possible that Max never told Cass the truth in the beginning about being married ‘because he knew’ she wouldn’t stand for it? She wouldn’t want to be the other woman… So he was selfish – he kept her anyway he could for as long as he could – and yeah, he walked away from her when she wanted more because if he told her the truth, it would be over anyway.

Before you all jump down my throat, I’d like you to think about it. Extra-marital affairs are a common thing in today’s world. Lots of people out there cheating on their spouses and they keep on at it even though they know it’s not going anywhere. It’s an aspect of human nature. Common situation. With this book, it does end happily and I’m glad it did because this was a work of fiction. That’s the thing with fiction – the author has license to take reality, blend it with fiction and run with it as far as she can because she’s just spinning a story for entertainment purposes.

My hats off to Jane Porter for being the gutsy woman she is. Each of her books means something – it’s not a run of the mill story. JP takes life by the cojones in her stories and says do your worst and then she takes the worst and makes it into something that still ends up good. Lots of authors in today’s world are “wusses”. They want to stick to the tried and true – keep delivering the same story again and again – just give the characters different names and change the settings. They don’t tackle the forbidden themes – the difficult subjects – just for fear that they might upset some reader out there. Not many people can take it on the chin like JP and still stay standing… and keep writing the difficult stories. That takes courage. It speaks of individuality and uniqueness.

Guess what? There’s all kinds of people out there. All kinds of women in all kinds of situations. Just because a Presents novel isn’t one person’s cup of tea doesn’t mean it couldn’t be another person’s champagne. There are lots of women in the ‘world’ who do love to read about happy endings to difficult, real life issues (like me) and perhaps that’s the reason Harlequin Presents is the best selling category line in the world and has such a huge reader base.

BTW, in case anyone’s wondering – no, I do not know the author personally, have never met her or conversed/emailed with her. I’m not the sort to write fan letters or gush endlessly about a book. I don’t have time for that sort of thing. But I do like to speak up once in a while and defend my taste in reading material. No crime in that.

Thanks for letting me have my say on this subject.

Sue Woods (who really didn’t mean to write so much but her fingers had a mind of their own)

Clearly Sue liked the book *grin*. I have to say, while I admire Sue for wanting to defend her choice in reading material (as she states in her last paragraph) it wasn’t really necessary. I don’t look down on anyone’s choice of reading material (well, unless it’s kiddy porn) and certainly not people who read and enjoy Harlequin Presents or other books of that nature. Obviously there’s an audience for this line or it wouldn’t exist–and thrive. I concluded in a post a few weeks ago, after reading another Presents, that I’m not the intended audience. My disbelief doesn’t suspend that far. But after Sue’s comment and Sharon’s blog post about her love for Jane Porter’s books, I admit I’m compelled to give them another go. So I’ll be hunting for a few old Jane Porter books this week.

Anyone out there want to fess up to a love for a specific line or author of category novels? I promise not to point and laugh 😉

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