Keeper Shelf

March 28, 2007 by in category Blogs tagged as with 4 and 0
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by Sandy Novy-Chvostal

Okay, my good friends know it, so the rest of the world may as well know it, too. I really didn’t join OCC/RWA to become a writer; I joined because I was an avid romance reader. The sole reason I attended meetings at first was to gawk at the authors who wrote the books I read and love.

One of the primary authors I planned to gawk at was Christine Rimmer. (Yep, the same Christine who blogged right here a couple of days back.) Unfortunately, at the same time I joined OCC/RWA, Christine–although she has remained a member–moved out of the state and thus, out of convenient gawking range. (Sheer coincidence, I’m sure, no matter what my good friend Angie Ray says.)

Still, since then I’ve been able to meet (and gawk) at Christine at National Conference several times. And when she visited OCC to speak a year or so ago, I was ready for her. I arrived at the volunteer reception in her honor staggering under the weight of a bag filled with her books.

“Just a few from my keeper shelf,” I huffed, plopping the bag down to wipe my sweating brow. “I didn’t want to impose by bringing all that I have, but do you mind signing these?”

Well, Chris is really sweet. She graciously agreed, and only blanched a little when I stacked her books up three (okay, four) feet high in front of her. Then she started signing, while I stood there with my usual sang-froid and–well, gawked.

When she picked up a Silhouette Special Edition book in her Jones family series, SWEETBRIAR SUMMER, I sighed just thinking about that story, summed up nicely in the back blurb:

Hymn-singing spinster Regina Black was shocked to her virginal core. Imagine, Patrick Jones–North Magdalene’s most notorious bachelor dad–out to seduce her. She’d never permit it. Never. Not if hell froze over and Satan skated.

Yet, in just one sultry afternoon on Sweetbriar Summit, virile Patrick jolted angelic Regina off the straight and narrow–and into the arms of temptation! And his surprising proposition of marriage was one she knew she couldn’t refuse . . .

Now, all Chris’s books are fantastic, but SWEETBRIAR SUMMIT has elements that get a diehard romance lover like me every time–a virgin heroine, an Alpha-Alpha (aka hubba-hubba) hero, and a marriage of semi-convenience. Listed bluntly, these elements read as totally cliché.

But Chris, as she does in all her books, takes the story beyond the stereotypical, richly layering her characterization to make her people come alive. Yes, Patrick is an Alpha male; he’s also a caring, loving, sometimes flawed father who wants to do right by his often exasperating, far-from-perfect daughters.

And the sexual tension in Chris’s stories is amazing. The love scene in SWEETBRIAR SUMMIT is hot enough to burn. What gives it such dramatic impact is all the sensory details Chris weaves throughout the story leading up to it. Details unique to these two characters alone. Such as when the hero is performing the simple task of making a hamburger for the heroine:

He set the bun on her plate gently, opening it with his tan fingers and edging it between a tossed salad with vinaigrette dressing on one side and something Linda Lou had called Potato Surprise on the other. Then he eased the patty onto the bottom half of the bun.

Regina watched Patrick’s hands doing this simple series of actions, setting the bun on the plate, opening it, laying the meat on top. And she had that same feeling she’d had at her front door that morning a month ago, right after he moved in next door, when he came over to borrow the sugar for his father’s coffee and she’d looked at his feet and thought how beautiful they were.

It was with a feeling of sadness, of something splendid glimpsed too briefly, and then gone.

I can’t get enough of Christine Rimmer’s books. I read the old ones over and over and grab up the new ones (most recently RALPHIE’S WIVES) as quickly as I can.

They are keepers, every one.

Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) has a degree in journalism, but prefers to write from the heart. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have three children, three cats, and one overgrown “puppy.” Romantic Times has labeled Sandra Paul’s work as “outrageously funny and surprisingly perceptive” while Rendezvous stated “Sandra Paul is imagination with wings.”

(Silhouette Romance, Editor Mary-Theresa Hussey) is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.


  • Anonymous
    on March 29, 2007

    Sandy! How amazing. Okay, getting seriously teary-eyed here.

    Thank you. You’ve made my month. 🙂

    And Michelle–thank *you*, Michelle–is so right. I’m honored to be in your company as a RITA nominee. You know I’ll be rootin’ for you on the big night. Yelling and making rude, loud, proud noises. Oh, yeah…

    And you *are* much too modest. But it’s okay. It’s part of your considerable charm.

    Can’t wait for National….

  • Anonymous
    on March 28, 2007


    Thank you for the congratulations! (And you really do knead to learn how to spell:)

    Luv ya,


  • Anonymous
    on March 28, 2007

    Yes, I know I misspelled purpose, there is no spell check on this damn thing.

  • Anonymous
    on March 28, 2007

    I totally agree about Chris’s books, She’s on my shelf too
    (but I will have re-read
    “Sweetbriar Summit,fuzzy memory.) I too joined OCC for nefarious pupouses too. I was a bookseller and that’s where the authors were. NOW 20+ years later I’m still there for the authors, but in a totally different way. I have met some of my BFF(you being one) at OCC “back in the day” and continue to find more every year. I’m so glad the subject of your column was about Chris, she’s so great, but so are you Missy. I am so HAPPY both you and Chris are nominated for RITAS this year. You are a very talented author and if you poo poo me, I will kick your ass.
    PS Seriously!

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