13 February 2017

Feminist romance

Finding Gaia | Kimberly Chapman

When Kimberly Chapman first mentioned her book Finding Gaia on Google+ as a romance, sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, I just nodded and moved on. However, when she mentioned it was feminist romance, I stopped and wondered how that would differ from the standard romance novel (which I don’t normally read).

So finally, having cunningly waited till there was a sale of books, I went out Finding Gaia.


And yes, there is a difference between the standard ‘romance’ novel and a feminist one, and I can understand more clearly why the standard romance novel is so very unappealing to anyone who believes that humans are humans first, and not men or women first and last, and hardly humane in the ways ‘standard’ romance novels treat the characters.

A book like this makes it even clearer that the drama and twists in a romance should not come about by jealousy and misunderstandings, that hate does not beget love, that contempt and ruthlessness and the use of force have no place in a real romance. Yes, this book is a romance first, but it’s also sci-fi, it’s also fantasy, it has paranormal stuff in it, it has humour, it has relatable characters, it has terrific writing, pace, suspense, villains and heroes, even superheroes and superbly horrible villains (these occur later in the book than the merely horrible villains in the early chapters).

Sure, run off immediately and leave this review and go buy your copy and ignore me. See if I care.

What happens in it? There is Jason Truitt, who is really old (centuries), and who is looking for someone like him (centuries old) and thinks he is again hot on the trail of the elusive Gaia. He is rich (compound interest over centuries, duh, what else would you expect? No? Well, okay, he’s a successful businessman). He has proteges (kind of heartbreaking to see your young friends age past you, grow old and die, so it must take real strength of heart to continue having proteges) who are Trish the peppy, enthusiastic, witty and impatient one, and Don the nerdy scientist who is barely aware of the world (except when wife Trish pulls him willy-nilly into the real world) but superb at his nerdy work. They are all on the track of a woman Jason code-names Gaia, whom he last saw centuries ago, and whose trail keeps going cold.

Why does her trail keep going cold? Is she evil or is evil done to her? What effect does the evil she encounters have on her? Can we get to like her? Will she be Jason’s friend or foe? Bwahahaha. In case you were expecting spoilers from me, I won’t give you any. Yes, they find Gaia. She can make things grow, besides being immortal. Does or does Jason not have a superpower of his own? Shrug from me.

Here’s a small sample, which to my mind, encapsulates the difference between a feminist/sensible romance and a bodice-ripper (said with true loathing). It’s also a sample of the humour you get all the time from Trish (my favourite character in the book):
“Where are you going?” Trish shouted, running after him and pointing east. “She’s out there!”
He paused, his foot on the first step. “If she comes back, we’ll work it out calmly and slowly and properly.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“Then I’m the one who is unworthy and don’t deserve a second chance.”
“Oh that’s profoundly stupid,” Trish spat.
“I’m not going to make it worse by chasing her down and saying the wrong thing.”
“How about chasing her down and kissing her? Leave words out of it!”
Jason turned and snapped back, “Yes, hunting her like an animal and assaulting her would be bloody brilliant.”
Trish shook her head incredulously. “You know, I love you so much that sometimes I really hate your guts.”
“Fine,” he grumbled and then ran up the stairs two at a time.
Trish shouted after him, “Yeah, fine! Go off and sulk then! That’ll really help!” Just before he slammed his bedroom door shut, he heard her mutter, “Moron.”
Yep, this book gets five stars, and I’m waiting for the sequel (it’s been written but not yet out).

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