VINE VOICEon 17 October 2004
I have wide tastes in reading. A non-fiction history book that is well written excites me as much as good fiction. It's the power behind the writer's vision, their voice that sees the prose come alive. When you get into the Romance genre, it's voice and vision, but it's also a headier mix - romance, anticipation, and an understanding of human nature. The best romances are written by someone who appreciates men and women, their indocincrosies, and relishes that indefinable magic, which makes a person individual, special. Often, I see writers writing men as they want them to be, rather than appreciating the male animal as he really is. No matter how beautifully written a tale is, if the writer does not have a good understanding of men, it shows. One thing you can say of Emma Holly she has the knack. She knows men, warts and all, yet adores their intricacy, understands them, and is able to put that into crafting savvy tales with characters so strong they come alive. Personal Assets is Holly at her very best. It shows Holly's understanding of women and men. She breathes life into her characters so when you finish reading this book, you just did not enjoy these two men and two women, you feel you know them. They are your friends! It's hard to think of Bea, Phillip, Leta and Simon as just fictional characters.
I especially I heap high praise on her Multi-POV (Point of View). I have long maintained this writing style is so much freer, fuller, you get to know the characters, their immediate reactions, then and there, instead of having to wait for the confining "stay within a single character's POV for a whole chapter". Comparing Mutli-POV to enforced Single-POV is the difference between staring at the Mona Lisa and then looking at a painting done with paint-by-numbers! I hear people call Multi-POV "head-hopping" and say it takes them out of the story. Sorry, if you are worrying about "whose head" you are "in" - you were never in the story in the first place! Holly has a strong mastery of Multi-POV, and she uses this so well to bring her characters to life. You are able to become acquainted with her four leads so well. I knew each of them, their quirks, their fears, their vulnerabilities. This style of writing is vital, it's immediate. And Holly shows how it should be done!
This tale is red hot, so know that going in. But it's more than the sizzling sex - it's the people. Holly is simply a master at human understanding, a master of taking that comprehension and being able to put it into words. She is a powerful writer. She evokes, provokes, teases and opens your heart to loving the people she conjures.
Bea Clouet lived in the shadowed of her beautiful, dazzling and powerful mother, and a similar grandmother. Her grandmother founded Milleirs Amis, a small, but exclusive boutique in Paris. Her mother pushed it to the limit, expanding it worldwide. When Bea was 12, her mother married Phillip Carmichael, a beautiful Englishman twenty years her mother's junior. Phillip tried to be a friend to the lonely Bea who never lived up to her mothers expectations. Bea's father was Irish, and Bea favored him. She is a big lass that carries a few too many pounds in a town of half-starved models. Bea generally rebuffed the friendship with Phillip because, as she grew she knew she loved him, and not as a stepfather. Now 23-years-old, she is coming into her own, and since her mother was killed six month before by her latest lover, she decides to push the limit and see if she can push Phillips buttons or at least try to get over him.
Leta her college friend is in town. Leta was orphaned when she was young, and never adopted so she has learned never to trust anyone and to depend only on herself. Bea is one of the few people she has ever been close to, so she treasures her friendship. When trouble arises in the New York store, Leta immediately begs Phillip to give her a chance to run the store. He refuses, but does say she can go learn the store, give him a report of what she thinks could improve it, and if she does a good job, he will consider hiring her as manager. Leta's former boyfriend Andrew pushes his boss Simon Graves and Leta together knowing they will click. And they do! Only, Leta is unaware Simon is starting the ground work to take over Meilleurs Amis, and that it could cost Leta her friendship with Bea. Both romances have so much heart, compassion and understanding. The complexity of the story, the characters - well, it's just brilliantly realized under Holly's marvelous talent. Count me a dyed in the wool Holly fan from now on!