Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking Love in Stride / Donna Fasano

Genre: Romance

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES   DTB: YES


Donna Fasano has written over thirty novels, most of which were under her pen name, Donna Clayton. The most recent is The Merry-Go-Round. Much of her backlist that had gone out of print is being updated and re-released as eBooks. The first of these, Mountain Laurel, was reviewed here several weeks ago. Taking Love in Stride is the second to receive this treatment. The mother of two grown sons, Fasano lives with her husband and two dogs, Jake and Roo.  For more information, visit the author's web site.


Andrea O’Connor, the track coach at a small private school with a limited budget, needs equipment for her track team. The principal is no help and the school board is unlikely to find money in the budget either. Help arrives from unexpected quarters when Ian Powers, the attractive father of one of her students, offers a donation in exchange for personal coaching. If only Andrea didn’t find him so infuriating.


The romance genre isn’t one I’ve read much. Chick-lit is another matter. I’ve been willingly reading it for years. Six months ago I couldn’t have told you the difference except for the “romance” books I read – yes, I thought chick-lit and romance were the same – I would sometimes find among the non-genre specific titles in my local supermarket’s paperback section.  Those I didn’t read (the actual romance books) were in their own section. By the time I’d noticed the publisher’s imprint was “one of those” the description would already have me hooked.

Lately I’ve read a few of the romance genre and those I’ve read have not been what I had pictured. I thought I’d find cardboard characters, completely implausible or simplistic plots, and, if I was lucky, a bit of titillation. I haven’t, at least not the first two.

I’m still getting used to the conventions and terminology of the genre. As I say in my submission guidelines, as a man I may come at both these genres differently than the target demographic would. Let’s tackle my preconceptions as they pertain to Taking Love in Stride.

We’ll start with characterization. Andrea, the Heroine (“female lead” in the romance genre) is what you might expect of a female track coach. Feisty, prone to snap judgments, and cleans up nice. That works so far. Ian, the Hero (I think you can figure this one out) is attractive, used to being in control, and a single father. A book needs conflict and I’ll bet that from my thumbnail descriptions you can see it coming already. Then we throw in Ian’s dad, who lives with him and watches his granddaughter during Ian’s frequent business trips and we have the major players. Each has a distinct personality and idiosyncrasies that work well moving the plot forward. This is the third book of Fasano’s I’ve read and, in my estimation, characterization is a strong suit. She seems to have an insight into what makes different people tick that translates well to her characters.

The plot isn’t complex like a good mystery or many suspense novels if for no other reason than this book is much shorter – I’m guessing genre conventions for romance dictate a length around half that of many genres. However, the plot is not simplistic. The story is realistic. (We’ve all had bosses like Andrea’s principal and had people we were attracted to and infuriated by, haven’t we?) It’s fun, at least for those of us who are voyeurs – I might feel differently living it. The results, however, are worth it for Andrea and Ian. The “happily ever after” ending is, from what I understand, another genre convention. Letting that slip isn’t a spoiler.

As for titillation, not so much. It turns out that romance novels run from relatively innocent (suitable for teens) all the way to borderline erotica. This one is more warm than hot. However, for a relatively quick read and a chance to laugh at other people’s foibles (possibly much like our own) this book does the trick.


This book was first released on Silhouette Romance (a Harlequin imprint). The author did some updates for the re-release. Language is relatively mild and subject matter appropriate for an older teen.

Format/Typo Issues:

Although I read a pre-release version of this book, I found no significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars


Anonymous said...

I quite enjoy chick-lit as a "take-me-away-from-it-all" genre; this sounds like a good read for that type of mood.

Kathryn Brown

So many books, so little time said...

Great review, I haven't read this author before

Peter Spenser said...

At the top of your reviews, you list the formats in which the book is available. One of them is “DTB.” Does this stand for “Digital Talking Book” or something else?

Anonymous said...

DTB means "Dead Tree Book" which pertains to the printed book (hardcover or paperback).

Danielle said...

LMAO! I have never heard of the DTB version. I am just curious about something Big Al. You mention that romance goes from YA to nearly erotica. Do you feel that erotica cannot have a real romantic feel to it? Have you ever reviewed erotica? I must say that there is quite a bit of erotica out there that is just sex but I have read some really outstanding erotica's that have tons of romance in it. These usually will set you on fire not only for the hedonistic qualities but many times the romance borders on intense foreplay that boggles the mind. I promise I am not being sassy (although many think that pretty much explains me) I am truly curious.

BooksAndPals said...

@Anon - Thanks for answering. This term and the acronym are used commonly in forums for users of eReaders, but aren't apparent to those who really have a need to understand what it is saying. There are a few minor changes in my review layout that I need to make. Changing that is one of them I have planned.

@Danielle. Regarding reviewing, I haven't, although I have read. As far as your main point, I agree. I think there is a large gray area in the spectrum of hotness where whether it is romance or erotica depends on the specific reader or (even more) how the publisher has chosen to market it.

DaikerDiva said...

Good review. And, yeah, you are right; the "happily-ever-after" ending is pretty much expected. Romances are for fun & enjoyment & escape - if I want surprise plot twists I pick a different genre! I once heard romances described as being about the journey, not the destination.

Anonymous said...

Well, my first comment got eaten by the internet. That's unfortunate, but I am determined to post.

If you're interested in knowing what you're getting into, check out the submission guidelines for the imprint. Quite a few of them have rules about "sensuality," pre-marital sex, how long the relationship has to drag out, and what the ultimate word-count must be. The Art of Romance Writing has a lot of information about that. (As does google...)

I'm always glad to find a romance novel with a strong female lead, even when their strength is the source of the tension.

Anonymous said...

Huzzah for another intriguing find :)

I went through a period reading a lot of romance novels & after a while I got bored with the sex scenes & almost tempted to skip them.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post dear blogger