Sunday, February 26, 2017

Next Installment: Books that Wrecked me for other Books 2016 - The Contract by Melanie Moreland

Do you have an expectation of a book based on the synopsis or trope?  Are you usually right on the money with your preconceived notion?  Let me tell you a story when all my preconceived notions were BLOWN AWAY.

I followed Melanie after my book pimp at Panda & Boodle recommended I read Over The Fence.  This story had contemporary romance themes that I enjoy. The novel was told with an engaging, surprising storytelling twist that I gifted this book as part of an exchange. I loved it and felt others should too. As a follower of Melanie's author page, I pre-ordered The Contract. I read the blurb and thought:

"Okay this will be a contract-for-love-boss-to-lovers story. I like those." 
Now, read the above with a large amount of smugness that I've been-there-read-this. Not saying that is a bad thing. But saying that I, the reader, thought I knew what it was going to get.  Now, imagine my surprise when Ms. Moreland sends me a personal message inquiring if I'd like to read an ARC.  Well, sure.  I was between reading so why not. Right? As I turn the pages, I'm thinking:
"Man, if this is the hero, this guy is a douche."
(couple more chapters)
"Okay, that was too kind. This guy is an asshole of epic proportions."
(more reading)
"Seriously, can this man be a bigger JERK? And why won't the heroine tell him to shove his attitude up his ass? "
Then the story takes me here:

The Contract is beautifully woven in dual point of view with just the right insight at just the right time for Richard and Katy.  To be honest, I've never hated a hero as much as I did with Richard at the start.  He so needed his ass kicked. And Katy- well, you wonder why the heck this kind, gentle woman puts up with his bullshit.  That, my dear readers, is the beauty of Melanie's ability to captivate  the reader to fully investing in the storyline.

She hands over her characters to hold your hand through an emotional and unexpected journey. This reader right here went through them all.  I hated, tolerated, empathized, mourned, wanted to kick his ass again, then rejoiced with Richard. I wanted Katy to get out, really get out, teach him a lesson, okay maybe he is not so bad then...well, you need to read for yourself.  For an interview with Melanie for our Facebook reader group after release, she unapologetically explained that she had to drag Richard through the mud and muck of emotions to get him to the happily ever after that would only work for him. And after reading the book this spring over 5 times in a row, I agree with her whole heartedly.

Do not mistake. I loved the character of Katherine, and secondary characters, Penny, Graham and Laura.  Melanie Moreland does not give you a story of two people. Her stories always encompass a family of individuals to mold the leads in being better humans. Each character, whether primary or secondary, are unique, interesting and ability to hold the reader's interest to follow them to the end. But it's Richard and his arc that really drove the story for me and those who I read with.  

Now why did this story wreck me for others?

What is my one word for The Contract: Soul-Searching. So often in this trope, the author offers a desperate, playboy hero in need of a 'fix' in order to get that promotion/deal/trust payout. These narcissistic power players often are charming to engage the reader that you learn to love and there we end.  Ms. Moreland takes that reader expectation and spins it on its head. You hate Richard- he isn't likable at all. You wonder if he'll learn to be 'a real boy'. He doesn't disappoint you - he is a jerk at every turn seemingly not getting a clue. You become vested in Richard and how the heck is he ever going to get that you can't be this way to be a good human being. And then it's the change his character needs to make to be worthy of Katherine and those who's lives he impacts through the story that keeps you turning each page. As I've learned with all Melanie Moreland's characters, these are people who do not live 'up there on pedestals' or have interactions we will never have. But are real, not plastic, people not afraid to show you their flaws as they share their story. You can relate to them. As I fangirled and basically DEMANDED people read this book, I re-read it with them.  I enjoyed each person and their reactions as they trekked along with Richard - this man we loved to hate. It was one of those stories I could re-live again and again. 

Where can you get a copy of Richard of your very own to hate then love? 

Amazon US

Now, what is the best part about getting wrecked by a book other than my typical fangirling and stalking the author? Well, yes that always occurs but in this case the author asks you to help promote a charity chapter (see the blog entry here). I was amazed and impressed by the book community not only embracing The Contract, but one-clicking on this chapter for charity to raise money for mental health awareness. 

Just to let you know, my love for Melanie does not end here.  I've read all her stories and many of her fanfiction pieces. This year she released It Started With a Kiss.  After I read a story like Richard's, I'm in the mood for light, funny and guaranteed happy unicorns with rainbows.  Daniel and Avery offer you that and more. By the way - this book has the best, complete Epilogue ever you need in your HEA. #getyourkisson

Amazon US