Mira Lyn Kelly caught my attention when I read the review at Dear Author for her first book Wild Fling or Wedding Ring (yes, I know. Terrible title.) It became one of my favorite books of the year, so I was delighted to lay my hands on her second book, Front Page Affair.
Ms. Kelly's strength is in pulling me emotionally through the story. Her characters can do a complete 180 emotional reversal, but the author never lets go of the reader's hand, never asks her to cover her eyes and pretend she "didn't see that."
Too often, that's precisely what other authors do. And I, like Dorothy in the Emerald City, am unable to ignore the author behind the curtain who is attempting to manipulate my emotions.
The sin of course isn't in manipulating my emotions. After all, that's precisely what I want from a book. The sin is in letting me see it. That just doesn't happen with Ms. Kelly. When Payton (the heroine) hopes that Nate (the hero) loves her, I'm there. And near the end of the book, when she give up that hope, practically between one heartbeat and the next, I make that transition with her, because Ms. Kelly understands how that change happens inside the heart, and she finds just the right words, not just to show that change in the heroine, but to make me feel it as well. And I find myself so skillfully manipulated that I want to beg for more.
With all this raving, one might get the idea that I think the book is perfect. It's not. A long-standing animosity between Nate and Payton's brother that dates back to high school provides the initial story complication. Ms. Kelly takes her time revealing the details of the falling out between the two men, which may be why I didn't really zero in on my difficulty with this part of the story until after I'd finished the book. My first impression was that they had been friends, but later it seemed that they'd associated more because they needed something from each other. It's a false step in my eyes, because I can't reconcile the way Payton and Nate remember their past association when it hinges on his relationship with her brother which wasn't that of a friend.
Later still, when Payton's brother learned that she is seeing Nate, I expected him to create another obstacle for their relationship. Indeed, I felt this was an implied promise. Instead, he was the catalyst for one of the emotional changes mentioned above. As I was reading the story, I was caught up enough in the heroine's emotions that I accepted this, but on a subliminal level, it tugged at me. Not enough to do serious damage to the story, and my faith in the author is strong enough to believe that, had the story been just a bit longer (the publisher's length requirement may account for this) she would have addressed this with the same skill she displayed in the rest of the story. I do know that this flaw wasn't enough to stop my heart from crying "Nooooo! I want more!" as I approached the last few pages of the book.
And that's what really counts in the end, that Nate and Payton's emotions ring true. Using that yardstick, what the book delivers can only be expressed with a deep sigh of satisfaction on the last page.
I'm not sure how I'm going to amuse myself while I wait for the next one of Ms. Kelly's books to be released, but you can bet I'll have it preordered.