REVIEW: What the Librarian Did by Karina BlissMonday, March 15, 2010 1:00
Being one myself, I’m naturally drawn to romance novels that feature librarian heroines. Over the years I’ve read some very good ones, and some others that have left permanent psychological scars. Karina Bliss’s latest for Harlequin SuperRomance is, blessedly, one of the good ones. Although at times, I felt the heroine’s “issues” overshadowed the romantic storyline.
Devin Freedman has spent the last 17 years being the bass player for the extremely successful hard rock band, Rage. However a life of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll have literally taken their toll. When his doctors give him the unvarnished truth of what his alcohol addiction has done to his body, Devin cleans up and heads to his mother’s home in New Zealand. Mom has had heart problems, and Devin is finally ready to take control of his life. To that end, he decides to enroll in college.
It’s there that he meets academic librarian Rachel Robinson who has no idea who the heck he is. That’s honestly about the only endearing thing he can say about her, since the woman seems hell-bent on challenging him with verbal sparring matches at every turn.
Rachel has led a fairly solitary life, and has just turned down a marriage proposal from a man who by all accounts has “good catch” written all over him. She’s almost 35, does want a husband and children some day, so why does she keep turning men away? She’s 35. Her ovaries ain’t gettin’ any younger. However, it’s rather complicated. Rachel has a past that she’s been hiding from for 17 years. A past that conveniently shows up just as Devin walks through the library front door.
I’m a bit of a sucker for opposites attract storylines, and rock star and librarian are just about as opposite as you can get. Devin’s love of music eventually became overshadowed by his addiction, and the state of his personal health has given him a wake-up call. There’s also the small matter that his older brother, the lead singer of the band, is possibly screwing him over financially. He has a lot to sort out, but cannot help but become distracted by Rachel, who is intelligent, quick-witted, and not impressed by his fame.
The bulk of the conflict centers around Rachel’s past, and a choice she made 17 years ago that she’s now confronted with. It’s pretty heavy stuff, and an issue I think the author handles well. That said, it’s heavy enough conflict that I felt, at times, the romance loses some footing. Especially since Devin and Rachel are extremely fond of jumping to conclusions about each other. These two are determined to assume the worst about each other, and several misunderstanding crop up over the course of the story. After a while, it gets a bit exhausting and a little old that these two just don’t confront each other, laying all their cards out on the table.
That being said, this was still a very strong, emotionally charged contemporary read. Rachel isn’t my favorite librarian romance heroine ever, but she easily lands in the Top 5 and Devin’s bad boy charm makes him the perfect foil. Karina Bliss is a new discovery for me in the SuperRomance line, and I look forward to reading more of her work.
Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn’t know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel’s refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she’s kept hidden for years.
It’s up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how “bad” he really is. Because her secret—and her growing feelings for a man who claims he’s bent on redemption—depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.