Monday, November 18, 2013

SUNNY: ARC DUAL BOOK REVIEW Roman Holiday 2, Hitched, and 3, Blindsided by Ruthie Knox

Roman Holiday is an ebook original series by Ruthie Knox.  "Episodes" are released in intervals so that the reader can enjoy the current chapter and engage in conversations with fellow readers on sites such as Ruthie Knox's forum.  It's kinda like watching a tv series where the story only advances with the weekly episodes.  

REVIEW of Hitched:
In the second installment of Roman Holiday, we get our first glimpse into the character of our two protagonists.  Although, this story is only a few chapters, we already learn so much about Roman and Ashley.  Roman is a self-made man.  He comes from the "wrong" side of the tracks, but was lucky to become the protege of a wealthy, Latino land developer.  He molds himself into the man he envisions is successful - what he should wear, what he should eat, what he should read, how he should talk.  Unfortunately, in leaving behind his old life, he also leaves behind his spirit of life.  In trying to hold this "successful man" idea together, he squeezes tightly to the image, but corrals and suppresses his personality.  It is best described by the way he eats his food, bland and boring: "It tasted of nothing, which was how he preferred his food." He has no depth of flavor in his meals or in his life.

Ashley on the other hand, is all about life.  In the first chapters, she comes across as a bit flighty and ditzy, but we learn here that she feels very deeply.  As a reader, I feel gutted, like Ashley, when she finds out that her grandmother, the person she loved the most, had purposefully left Ashley out of her life during her illness and during the sale.  I am beginning to understand better what motivates Ashley and am looking forward to learning more about her and Roman in book 3!

REVIEW of Blindsided:
Talking about taking a left turn into craziness....

In the third installment of Roman Holiday, Roman and Ashley visit Mitzi, Ashley's grandmother's best friend, at the Okefenokee Land Cooperative.  For Roman, he might as well be in outerspace.  He feels like he has landed on an alien planet where everything is unfamiliar and confusing.  We are treated to a drum circle, the purpose of which is about freedom, "freedom from shame.  About physical, rhythmical, sexual, primitive rhythm -- letting it move through you, releasing you from your burdens."  Ironically, I personally participated in a drum circle the day before I read this book and I couldn't believe my timing.  This was an amazing event and I couldn't agree with Ruthie Knox's description more.  It also strikes me at how tightly wound Roman must be.  This makes him more than uncomfortable, it makes him revert even further in his "perfect man" image, or as Ashley calls it "his plastic-man thing going again."

As Roman is pushed to his outer limits, he reaction causes Ashley some self reflection as well.  She takes stock at how she has behaved in the past and has to question what she is willing to do in order to get Sunnyvale back.  Is she willing to play dirty?  I am impressed by her choice.  I like that part of this journey is Ashley discovering who she is beyond people's expectations of her.  I love Ashley's response to Roman's anger.  It feels mature and that decision show her mettle and depth.  Admittedly, I didn't know what to make of Ashley in Part One, but I'm really enjoying her character now and am rooting for her in the next installment!

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARCs in exchange for a honest review. 

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