by Judith McNaught

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Zachary Benedict is a famous movie star and director with a complicated past that gets framed for his wife's murder on a movie set. Julie Mathison, once an orphan on the streets, was raised to be the perfect daughter in her small town, and has so far succeeded. After Zach escapes from prison in an attempt to clear his name, he kidnaps Julie in a desperate plan to run away into the Colorado mountains. As they spend time with one another, they find that they have a lot more in common than they thought and they just might have found the person who can truly accept them, flaws and all. Together and apart, they try and solve the mystery that landed Zach in jail five years earlier.

My Reaction: I reread this book because I was eager for a romance set in the snowy hills of the mountains, and we all know I'm a huge McNaught fan. I hadn't touched this one since I bought it, probably around 5 years ago or so. It really drove home to me why I love McNaught, although I do have to say I prefer her historical novels. The plot is very character driven, and its 600 some pages can be attributed to the fact that each and every character has a detailed background that the reader gets to know.

McNaught's writing is superb, hands down. I love reading a book knowing you're not going to get the dribble that passes for acceptable these days. She really can weave a story that keeps you reading without becoming bored. The fact that she puts the entire background of a lot of the characters really educates me as a writer as to the extent we should be thinking about these characters. It's really phenomenal, how well she knows each of them.

So how do I feel about the book? I think I refer McNaught's historical novels because the dynamics between the men and women are very traditional. In the sense that there is a feeling of domination (not in a bad way necessarily) that works better for me set 100+ years ago. But let's face it. Zachary Benedict is kind of a dick. He totally redeems himself by the end, but still... chill out a bit, dude. It's the 20th century (in his world, at least).

And I hate to say this, because I ADORE McNaught, but all those "darlings" at the end? It felt like the lovin' was getting laid on pretty thick, there. I dunno. Maybe that was a popular endearment in the 80s. I'm sure my kids will shudder that we call each other "bae" right now.

Long story short, you'll never regret picking up a McNaught novel. But if you have to choose just one, go with one of her historicals. Then work your way through her full repertoire. Judith McNaught writes romance novels the way they should be - beautifully and with attention to detail and a deep meaning about the essence of a real relationship.

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