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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about th...

March 27, 2024

Is it Women's Fiction or Romance?

by Susan Roberts

It's often difficult to assign a genre to some books.  The last three books that I read were described as women's fiction but I found them closer to romance novels.  This definition from Romance Writers of America cleared up the question for me:  The Romance Writers of America organization defines women's fiction as, "a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship."  How do you differentiate the two genres or do you think that there is a big overlap?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for honest reviews.

The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez

book cover of women's fiction novel The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez
March 2024; Lake Union; 978-1662513954
audio, ebook, print (332 pages); women's fiction

In this heartfelt story about how the places we run from hold the answers to our deepest challenges, the death of her grandmother brings a young woman home, where she must face the past in order to become the heir of not just the family restaurant, but her own destiny.

I got pulled into this book almost immediately thanks to the beautiful cover.  The book itself was full of beautiful writing and descriptions of Columbia that made me feel like I was there with the characters.

Violeta grew up in Columbia.  She mainly lived with her beloved grandmother who wanted her to go to America to go to college.  She was in love with Rafa and wanted to stay in Columbia.  But Vi always took her grandmother's advice so she left her home to go to the US.  The story jumps 10 years and we find Vi in love with Liam and right on the verge of achieving success in her career.  When she finds out that her beloved grandmother has died, she gets on the next plane back to Columbia.  There she finds that her mother has made a mess of her grandmother's well-known restaurant by allowing it to move away from its roots.  The restaurant is doing poorly and on the verge of going bankrupt.  Vi makes a decision to stay in Columbia to try to bring the restaurant back to her grandmother's standards.  She sees Rafa again and there are immediate sparks between the two of them.  When Liam comes from NYC to see her, she quickly realizes which man she yearns to spend the rest of her life with.  

The book has some magical realism when she has conversations with her dead grandmother.  I normally don't like magical realism but in this book, it was handled well and didn't seem out of place.

This is a story full of love -- both romantic love and love through the generations of a family.  It's the story of finding out where you need to be in your life and staying strong when adversity tries to change your plans for the future.   

In a Not So Perfect World by Neely Tubati Alexander

book cover of women's fiction novel In a Not So Perfect World by Neely Tubati Alexander
March 2024; Harper; 978-0063377103
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); women's fiction

A delightful Caribbean-set romp about an ambitious designer of apocalyptic video games with a strategy for (almost) everything who discovers what happens when her best-laid plans go off course . . .

This book is another fake dating story but it's the opposite of the usual books with fake dating as the main plot.  In this book, the two main characters are dating but need to keep it quiet so that she can get her dream job... at a company that makes her promise not to get into a relationship or get married because it will affect her performance at her job.  My initial question is why would anyone ever agree to this and really, isn't it against the law to put requirements like this on a job?

Sloane has just gotten an interview for her dream job as a designer for one of the top video game companies.  According to the book, this is a field that is predominately filled by men and when three men interview her,  they ask her to remain single and fully dedicated to the job. It's not difficult for her to agree to this, she's just broken up with her boyfriend who cheated on her plus this is her dream job.  Then she gets to know Charlie, who she refers to as the Hot Neighbor Guy.  He and his girlfriend have just broken up and he has non-refundable tickets to a resort in Turks and Caicos.  He just wants to go as friends but when Charlie and Sloane spend time together at the resort, the sparks begin to fly between the two of them.  She keeps reminding herself about her dream job and knows that if she gets involved with Charlie, she'll lose her chance at the job.  She has to make a decision -- her dream job or a relationship with Charlie.  What will she do?

Once I got past the job requirements to get her dream job, this was a cute fluffy story with two interesting main characters.  There was a lot of discussion about gaming and writing computer games that didn't interest me at all (ok, I'm old) but overall it was a fun book.

Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau

book cover of romantic comedy Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau
May 2024; Atria/Emily Bestler Books; 978-1668030769
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); romantic comedy

A  young woman’s desperate attempts to fend off her meddling mother…only to find that maybe mother does know best.

This is the third or fourth book that I've read recently about fake dating - usually because of a meddling mother.  I will say that this is the best book that I've read with this basic theme with a nicely written couple, some close calls at the mother finding out the truth, and a totally meddling mother who wants to get her final daughter married off.

Emily is the last single daughter in the family who is not married plus she is 33 and her mother decides that it's about time she gets married.  Her mother makes sure that Mark is invited to her younger daughter's wedding so that Emily can meet him.  Emily is totally unimpressed with Mark despite all of the wonderful things her mom had to say about him.  Mark seems to be similarly unimpressed with Emily. When her mother continues to bring up Mark and all of his attributes, Emily finally calls Mark and suggests that they fake a relationship to end her mother's complaints.  He very reluctantly agrees and they start to fake date.  At first, they don't even see each other but talk about what their mother's will be told.  After her mother almost catches her in a lie, Emily and Mark decide to see each other as they continue their fake relationship.  The more time they spend together, the more Emily realizes how wrong her initial impression of Mark really was.  Maybe her mother really did know best.

This was a cute fake dating story.  It showed the way that some parents feel a child should be married by a certain age and if not, it's time for a parent to get involved.  The big question is whether Emily and Mark will get their 'happily ever after' or keep their original opinions of each other.  This is a book about family, parental meddling, and love.  Emily is a writer so there are a lot of comments about the publishing industry and what's involved in getting a book into print.  There are also some laughs along the way to a hopefully HEA.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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