Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spotlight by Carole Bellacera

TITLE: Spotlight
AUTHOR: Carole Bellacera
PUBLISHER: Belgrave House
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 100k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $5.00

Irish rocker Devin O’Keefe doesn’t believe violence is the answer to his mother country’s political problems. American photojournalist Fonda Blayne thinks he’s one of the most amazing talents she’s ever seen. When she’s brought in to shoot and record a tour for an upcoming book, she comes face to face with the man behind the music – and all the troubles he never quite left behind in Ireland

Some stories try too hard. They see an important topic, or the opportunity of a large milieu, or lack of length restrictions, and consider it carte blanche to stuff as much into their tale as they can. Sometimes it works, and when that happens, it’s magical. Sometimes it doesn’t, and a reader is left trying to make sense of the mishmash just read.

Spotlight falls into the latter category. It’s marketed as contemporary women’s fiction, but I wonder if that’s because it doesn’t fall comfortably into any one genre. The prose reads as contemporary romance, yet the structure of the story – with events early on in the story told from the antagonists’ POVs and frequent scene changes throughout in an attempt to build tension – is that of a suspense/thriller. There are also the political messages and the melodrama stuck in there as well. The end result is a story that doesn’t really work as any of them. Before I can get sucked into the romance, I’m set up for a suspense. Just when I’m ready to read as that, it slips into over-the-top romance. I’m never allowed an opportunity to get comfortable in any one niche, and I'm really left floundering.

Devin is actually a really nice hero most of the time. He’s a tad too good to be true, but overall, he’s the most consistently written character in the entire story. If Fonda had stayed the same way (and seriously, the heroine’s full name is Fonda Jane Blayne), I could probably have overlooked the suspense issues I had and committed to the romance. But halfway through the story, everything changed. Within the course of a single chapter, Devin and Fonda go from refusing to act on their desires for each other, to having sex and declarations of love, to talking about marriage at the end. After 200 pages of next to nothing. From that point on, Fonda is a different person. She’s clingy and overwrought. She reverses her religious stance from She'd turned away from religion when Michael died to whining they wouldn't be married in the eyes of God. She makes dumb choices in favor of creating conflict within the book, and any sympathy I had for her is mostly gone.

There are subplots about Fonda’s little sister losing her virginity and almost getting raped, her broken relationship with her father, and Devin’s crew, but none of them gel or provide dramatic tension. If anything, they distract from the overall flow of the story. What it ends up being is a soap opera about an Irish rocker. And not a very good one at that.


5/10 – Irregular headhopping, clunky dialogue, and too many subplots made this a chore to read.


6/10 – Has moments of wonderfulness, but overall too good to be true


6/10 – Inconsistent. Likable for the first half, but as soon as the declarations come, her personality is all over the place, including complete reversals on positions stated in the beginning of the story.

Entertainment value

4/10 – Too much melodrama and eye-rolling moments

World building

7/10 – A lot of detail goes into the rock elements, though some of the magazine stuff makes me wonder.



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