Just Over the Mountain by Robyn Carr
Dr. June Hudson is content with her small-town Northern California life, surrounded by family and quirky, familiar friends… and an often-absent secret lover on the side. But she gets a curveball in the form of Chris, her high school boyfriend, who had returned from big city life, divorced and pushing for another chance.
Well, that’s the official blurb, but this reading writer would say that the book is just as much about the bones found in June’s batty old aunt’s back yard, the secrets behind one of the town’s most steady marriages, and the adjustments Chris’s twin teenage terrors need to make. But these aren’t the kind of events that populate the back of a romance book.
This reading writer thinks that Robyn Carr is a good writer, but the romance in this book is… well, not so exciting. Yet I consistently find her books on the top of Amazon’s lists, often more than one at a time. As of the moment I am writing this sentence, she is #92 on Amazon’s author rank list. In short, she’s really popular. But if it’s not the romance itself that makes these romances so popular, what is it?
Actually, isn’t quite a romance. It’s women’s fiction with a cast of quirky characters and a side of romance. She writes from multiple perspectives, including June’s but, interestingly, not either of the potential heroes of the book. Carr has created a world first, romance second, and judging from the reviews, her tactic is successful. And, yet, the back cover still reads like a romance novel, focusing only on June and Jim’s relationship and following the romance blurb rule of not mentioning Chris, the other romantic interest, by name (i.e. spoiler to anyone who knows about romance practices). One of book's subgenres is even listed as "Erotica" on Amazon (chosen by the publisher)!! Why?
Romance draws readers unlike any other genre, and this reading writer thinks publishers push its definition to reap the benefits. What Carr writes we can call the “comfort food” of romance writing. Not too exciting, not innovative, not edgy. Comfort food. For the publisher, this is a mixture that makes a whole lotta dough. Ha! I just had to go there:)