Kate likes romance novels. But not the kind that are sappy and unrealistic. And since most romance novels are this way, she sets out to write a real-life romance, using her own life as the story. So with The Romance Writers Phrasebook as her guide, Kate begins writing her own novel, trying to leave the majority of clichés behind. She even admits herself that with her non-silky legs, her coke-bottle glasses, her gangly height, and her geeky tendencies, she’s not the ideal heroine anyway. It all starts a few days before Christmas, when Kate meets her brother Bjorn and his best friend Richard. It’s been four years since she’s seen him last, but she’s more in love than ever. The only problem: Fleur St. Germaine. A name too good to be made up by Kate, and whom may be in fact Richard’s very real girlfriend.
When I read this book a few years ago, it was an amusing experience. You forget it’s a story within a story until Kate interrupts the narrative with her struggles finding the right authorly description for her characters and situations. It’s difficult not to laugh at her blunt honesty. We’re reading the very rough, very raw draft of her novel, where we are party to her self-editing and indecision. I like the internal dialogue going on when Kate’s introducing the hero:
“You mean me?” Richard Bradshaw filled the doorway.
Okay, a flourish of trumpets here. The hero has arrived. And because he was my hero long before I began writing this novel, ever since I can remember, in fact, my face grew hot. He was four years older now, of course, and shorter than I remembered, but I wasn’t six feet tall four years ago either. His eyes – I need the help of The Romance Writers Phrasebook Guide to describe those eyes:
–unfathomable in their murky depths?
–shades of amber and green?
–dark gray-green-flecked eyes?
I don’t know. Maybe.
–hooded like those of a hawk?
Absolutely not! The hell with it. They were warm eyes. They were Richard’s eyes. I wouldn’t care if they were cone-shaped.
And that’s the beauty of The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman. The story may be slightly dated and the cover of the original edition (which I read) awful, but it’s a quick, tongue-and-cheek read that had me laughing out loud due to both the novelty of the execution and the feistiness of Kate. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and it’s a fun ride watching her poke fun at the stereotypical romance novel. Bjorn, Richard, Fleur, and the other characters don’t seem cookie cutter either and will surprise you. Don’t miss the hilarious Revision Notes throughout the book and the epilogue, in which Kate reads the novel to a certain someone.