Saturday, October 4, 2008

Taming Natasha by Nora Roberts ****

I actually got this in a 2-fer book with Falling for Rachel, to be my "book with a name in the title" category in the Fall Reading Challenge. I should be sticking to my TBR pile for these challenges!! I could possibly have used Passion by Lisa Valdez since the character's name is Passion; or I could have used Without A Trace, NR, which I had on audio book (Trace being the hero's name) - but no, I had to get another book!!

I took the book with me on vacation to Egypt. When does one have time to read on a vacation?? Well, there was the plane - I listened to an audio book. Layovers in airports - we found a Yotel in Amsterdam, and rented a room for the day to try to catch up on sleep. In the hotel while recuperating from being dragged all over Cairo by the guide - yep, started there. And finished on the Nile cruise, on the top deck while floating upstream past ancient ruins and new people living as their ancient ancestors did. Managed to take a couple of photos from there as well, between chapters. All in all, I listened to 5 audio books and read 2 books, if you count this one book as 2, on the 11-day trip.

This series is a 4-booker, with 2 sisters (Rachel/Natasha) and 2 brothers whose names escape me at the moment. The compilation put the sisters together even though their books are 1 and 3 in the series.

Natasha is living in a small town in West Virginia as a successful toy store owner who once dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer. She gave up that dream after a life-changing event, revealed in the end, which affects her ability to trust men. Her Ukrainian parents live in Brooklyn or maybe it was the Bronx - very loud, very close, very working class. They escaped from whatever was happening in Russia/Soviet Union to America when Natasha was 6, and she didn't learn to speak English til she was 8. It was even later when she learned to read and write it. She doesn't exactly have an accent, but a sort of speech pattern that apparently degrades when she is excited (angry, provoked, whatever) into revealing her Ukrainian background.

Our beloved beta hero is Dr. Spencer Kimball. He's a music professor/composer who is having composer block - no Navy SEAL or former cop-turned-operative here, just a mild-mannered musician looking for a good life. He's also a widower with a darling 6 year old daughter - they've just moved to the charming West Virginia small town where he will teach music at the local college. It's not really that relevant that his dead wife was a bitch who was going to leave him with the kid when she was killed in an accident. (I think - it has been a few days and several thousand miles since I read it.) I think it introduces potential trust issues for him and the kid. However, the kid loves Natasha from the first minute since she runs this cool toy store. He loves Natasha from the first minute because he's attracted to her.

Basically, Spence pursues Natasha relentlessly - but she has trust issues from a relationship-gone-bad during her professional dance career. Initially she assumes he's married since he has a kid, and so she hates him for coming on to her on their first meeting. The story has a fairly pure romance plot - no suspense, nobody's trying to kill anybody and that first misunderstanding is corrected quickly, so we don't spend too much time getting that explanation out. He wants her; she wants distance because she can't trust men. The only obstacles they have to overcome are within their own minds - can they each learn to trust and love again?

So even though my review is sorta flippant, I liked the story and give it 4 stars. I'm suffering from jet lag from my trip to Egypt and I think this review reflects that! I'm practically falling over from fatigue - maybe I'll wait to gather my thoughts on Falling for Rachel before writing that review. (I just re-read my trip journal to see if I mentioned it, and my notes say "I can't recall the plot fot it" but gave it 4 stars as well - go figure.)

I do plan to read the others in the series, although having just read the plot for Considering Kate at AAR, it sounds suspiciously like a rehash of the plot for Taming Natasha, complete with her being a dancer and also assuming the hero's still married becaues he has a kid and therefore being offended when he flirts with her. I just realized there are actually 6 (or more?) stories in the Stanislaski series - the 2 brothers get their books (books 2 and 4) and then 2 of the next generation get a book each. I have a ways to go!


Carpoolqueen (formerly known as Beth) said...

I loved the Stanislaski's. I got the reprints that have them in the correct order. Alex, and Mikhail are awesome. I also have "Waiting for Nick" and "Considering Kate".

aunt rowena said...

I did like it - my review reflects the level of jet lag I'm suffering! I plan to read all 4, and have already read Falling for Rachel.