Letters to Kelly, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Thursday, July 17, 2003

Next up was Letters to Kelly, by Suzanne Brockmann, an A-.

The stomach-clenching I didn't get in Final Exit was present in LTK, and it was there with a vengeance. Brockmann always does this to me, whether she's writing about her SEALs or about civilians. I swear this woman could write anything and I'd be buying it in a minute, and in hardcover. She has the most amazing voice, and I love her heroes. This book wasn't perfect, yes, but I enjoyed it very much.

For years, a trumped-up charge--and a Central American prison cell--kept Jax Winchester from claiming the girl he loved. Now he was a free man. Or was he?

For only the memory of Kelly O’Brien-- and the letters he’d composed to her--had kept him going. But once he was released, he knew he was still a prisoner--in a jail of his own making. The way out this time? Keep that promise he’d made to Kelly all those years ago--and claim her for his own...
The backstory here was more than a little icky. A 16-year-old girl with a 22-year-old man feels very weird, at least until I remember how I myself dated a 24-year-old when I was 16, and there was definitely no feeling of an older guy taking advantage of an immature girl there. In fact, I was the one who broke it up because I realized the guy was too old for me (I mean, he was talking about how he was at a place where he was thinking about settling down and getting married... not necessarily with me, but this was something he seemed to want to do soon, while I didn't -and still don't- plan to even start considering that until I'm at least 30!).

Ok, enough about me and back to the story. I wasn't entirely comfortable with the age difference in the backstory, but I wasn't entirely creeped out either. Just tried to get past it and concentrate on the present-day story, which was really good. I'm a sucker for the pursuer hero, and Jax was definitely that. He knows from the beginning that he loves Kelly and wants to marry her, and he never gives up the chase.

Kelly was less easy to like. She was a bit too hesitant to even listen to Jax. I understand that she would be skittish after he abandoned her like he did, but when he came back, I'm sure I would have at least asked him what the hell had happened, not just treat him as anyone, only refusing his invitations. I understood why Jax took so long to tell her what had happened. She never asked, and he didn't want her to pity him and accept his just because she felt sorry for him. Not entirely reasonable, but understandable. What wasn't that realistic was that there hadn't been more publicity about what had happened to him, but ok, I'll buy it.

High points: 1) Romance author Jax's dialogues with his hero... priceless! That was lots of fun. 2) Any author should read what Brockmann has to say about writing love scenes. Yes, yes, yes! She's so utterly, completely right! Concentrate on feelings, what each of the protagonists is feeling, both physically and emotionally. Don't write about how tab A is going into slot B and leave it at that (of course, that shouldn't be missing, either). I've always said that Brockmann's scenes were the best because there was so much feeling in it, and it seems it was on purpose ;-)

I also especially liked that these characters were more modern and liberal than most in romance-land. How often do you see a romance hero wearing an Amnesty International T-shirt? Or a college student heroine? Very enjoyable.

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