Karen Does Ann Christopher's Risk...
Ten Years Ago, Justus Robinson, and Angela Dennis met at his brother’s wedding, and shared a dance, filled with the possibility of something more. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, they don’t see each other for another ten years, when tragedy reunites them.
Fast-forward ten years, and newly dumped Angela, is met with the tragic news that her sister and brother-in-law have been killed in an accident, leaving their child, Maya, an orphan, at just three years old.
Justus and Angela come together to take care of Maya, and find that their mutual attraction which started over ten years ago, is still alive and well. Angela, assumes that Maya will be given to her for adoption, and is surprised to learn that Justus is determined to raise his beloved niece.
Justus wants both Maya, and Angela, but he soon realises that the one thing standing in his way is the very woman he loves. Will she risk her heart with him, or will her insecurities and past relationship keep them from having their own happy ever after?
Loved. It. I really, really did.
Angela was exquisitely neurotic, and had me teetering forwards and backwards in terms of how I felt about her, throughout the book.
In the beginning she was a stuck up, selfish bitch who needed a good kicking, but as the story went on, I realised that the one thing I liked about Angela was the sense of ‘realness’ that I got from her character.
She wasn’t perfect, at times she could be downright selfish and self-absorbed, and ordinarily, this type of heroine would usually have me running for the hills screaming blue murder, wielding an axe, but as the story develops, the reader sees less and less of the self-indulgent Angela, and instead is introduced to a woman who wants to do the right thing by her niece.
The reader sees a woman who’s plagued with insecurities, desperate to change, but doesn’t really know where to start. A woman who every now, and again is willing to unbend enough to try something that takes her out of her comfort zone. I liked this Angela, I got this Angela.
Justus was wonderful. Decent, and honest, and kind. He really was.
He was a red-blooded, charismatic, successful man, who’d had his share of beautiful women, and wasn’t ashamed to admit it, but his fateful encounter with Angela ten years ago, had made a huge impression with him, and left him with feelings that he’d never been able to explain away.
He wasn’t as complex as Angela, because I didn’t find myself in the same tug-of-like conflict with his character. He was fairly consistent all the way through the book, and actually, that was quite nice, especially in light of the fact that Angela’s character was as mercurial as the weather.
The thing that I loved most about Justus was the way he was with Maya. I love stories where the hero is able to interact in a normal way with children, without giving me a sickly sweet, sugar overdose, or channeling The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
I could tell that he loved Maya, and that his relationship with her was one of the most important things in his life. That says a lot about a man, and it made me as the reader more willing to trust that for all of his male-slut ways, when he eventually fell in love, it would be for real, and forever.
Although the two of them didn’t actually consumate their relationship till much later in the story, the build-up was so tension-filled, that I started looking forward, in desperate anticipation, to their next chemistry-fuelled scenes, together. The pages fairly smoked with all of the sexual tension, between the two of them. It’s great when an author is able to harness that, and bring it to a story.
One of the main secondary characters in the story, was Vincent, Justus’ cold, super-driven, super-snobbish father. Justus and his father had never seen eye to eye, and Justus had always felt that he was a bitter disappointment to his father. A point which Vincent had no qualms about harping back to, time and time again.
There was a particluarly powerful scene in the book, where Vincent spurns Justus’ attempt to help him, after his heart starts troubling him, and he intimates that if he had to have a son die, it should have been Justus. At that point, I must admit to actually wanting to seriously injure him in some way
I feared that Ann Christopher was going to go the route of turning Vincent into a one-dimensional, evil-bastard character, but luckily, as the story unfolded, we got to see a gentler, less reprehensible side to him. I like characters in books, who make me question my feelings towards them. I like the uncertainty of not knowing how I feel about a character from one minute to the next, it makes things a little more interesting.
Maya was the thread, that not only brought Justus and Angela together, but she was the common ground that Justus and his father desperately needed to reach a place of compromise and conciliation.
I loved how Christopher didn’t turn her into the model child, fully equipped with a halo on her head, and angel wings sprouting from her back. She was sometimes, naughty, and she was sometimes nice, but she was always an interesting character, for one so young. The scenes with her and Angela were bittersweet. Angela’s inexperience with children shining through, every time Maya behaved like a typical three year-old. There were a few heart-warming scenes, between Maya, Justus, and Angela, but at no point did Christopher wade into Corny As Hell territory. I liked that.
I loved how Christopher was able to weave such a beautifully intense story, without making me feel like I’d been put through an emotional wringer. She didn’t waste time with extraneous plots, and a multitude of secondary characters, and instead concentrated on developing multi-dimensional leads, who fairly jumped off the page for me. The pacing was good, and at no point did I feel the need to go and watch my grass grow in the garden.
Risk wasn’t quite the perfect read, I wasn’t overly enamoured by the fact that Justus was just 17, and Angela 24, when they first met, I think I would have felt a lot more comfortable if he had been at least twenty years old. Also, I noticed that Christopher really liked using the word ‘cried’ a lot. Had she kept this particular verb to just the females, (e.g. “My God Angela, he cried”) I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have noticed her over-use of it.
I was able to get past the imperfections, and as minor as they were, they certainly didn’t stop me from being enchanted by Christopher’s version of love at first sight. I loved the way she made me believe in the possibility that love can start with a single glance, and a single dance, and that those feelings can be strong enough to transcend time and tragedy.
This was romance in the truest sense of the word, and so often, authors fall short of providing that very necessary ingredient. I certainly take my hat off to Ann Christopher, she wrote a wonderful story, and one that was very hard to put down.
You can buy Risk here, and visit Ann Christopher’s website, here.
Thanks to Linda for reccing this to me, you were soooo right.