A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Gentle on My Mind by Susan Fox

on June 23, 2015

After I wrote about The Heart of Christmas, SuperWendy recommended this as a story in which pregnancy options are given serious consideration. And curse you, Wendy, for turning me on to a new author! Like I needed that!

There will be some spoilers here, but nothing that’s not pretty guessable.

For a mainstream romance, this takes a few risks. The heroine Brooke is a recovering alcoholic, has bipolar disorder, is quite a bit older than the hero, was a terrible mom(!), and — rarest of all — is a grandmother! Although she got pregnant when she was 14, so she’s only a 43 year old grandmother. And did I get tired of hearing her talk about being a grandmother as if that meant she was never allowed to have sex again.

We meet her after she’s turned her life around and reestablished a relationship with her son. (The hero of Home on the Range.) Maintaining her sobriety, her mental health, and her respectability — in a town that expects her to fall off the wagon at any moment — is all important to her. And then a guy with a bullet in him crashes his motorcycle into her fence.

I’m not going to go much into the plot, which has a suspense element but isn’t really romantic suspense. The interesting part for me was, as Wendy mentioned, the fact that Brooke accidentally gets pregnant and actually spends some time pondering her options, especially in light of her need for medication. That’s very, very rare in romance — perhaps even more than a grandmother heroine — and I appreciated seeing it.

The story did get into some personal pet peeve territory. Despite all the risks that she’s well aware of — her age, her mental illness, having to go off her medication  — Brooke never really considers how she’ll cope with being a single mother except in the most general and rosy terms. For example, her plan is to take the baby to work with her. Leaving aside the fact that she works in a beauty salon, that is something that is just not going to work with every baby, especially if that baby turns out to have special needs.

I also laughed out loud when Brooke worries that Jake will be bored with her quiet life and he replies, “I bet it’s hard to be bored when there’s a kid around.” Oh sweet naivete…

But it’s quite an enjoyable story, and definitely not cookie cutter.

5 responses to “Gentle on My Mind by Susan Fox

  1. Miss Bates says:

    Sounds most interesting! Charlotte Lamb has a soon-to-be-grandmother heroine in her 50s in Hot Blood. I loved it. Mixed feelings & thoughts about it from variety of rom-thinkers, after all, it is Lamb.

  2. Olivia Dade says:

    Wow. Susan Fox went WAY outside the box (like, so far that the box basically became an inconsequential speck in the distance) with that heroine, which I admire like hell.

    P.S. There should be an epilogue two years later, in which she tries to bring her toddler to work and he eats a crapload of other people’s snipped-off hair, vomits, and then parades around the salon diaperless. Just for the sake of realism.

  3. SuperWendy says:

    I never wrote a real review for it (it was a contest read!), but it was a hard book for me to personally rate. I really appreciated those outside-the-box elements in the heroine. I’d never read anything like that in a romance before and it was so refreshing! But the hero is pretty much standard issue and the “suspense” was weak-sauce. As much as I loved what Fox did with the heroine, I couldn’t quite ignore the “other stuff” that didn’t work as well for me.

    But I think it’s still worth reading and you’re now the second person I know of that I’ve forced this book on to. Rosario being the other, and her review is way better than anything I could have possibly written so I didn’t even try.

    • willaful says:

      I’d say I liked it more than you but less than Rosario. I think it was mostly the heroine that kept my interest because I’ve since DNF’d every other book in the series. 😦

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