Spin (A Mafia Romance) by CD Reiss
Gritty, dark, sexy and a little disturbing - all of these could be said about CD Reiss's Corruption Series. Rich society girl Therese, just on the heels of the scandal of her fiance's very pubic infidelity, meets the very guy she shouldn't pursue: Antonio, mafia capo and all-around dangerous guy... dangerous, as in people from all angles are trying to get rid of him in one way or another. But of course, he's hot and much better in bed than her previous boyfriend, but it's not just that. Stepping into Antonio's life, where death is a real possibility, is exhilarating.
But you're in no danger of spoilers in this post; I actually don't know how Therese and Antonio's story ends.
I read two of three of the books and then quit, but this was mostly out of personal preference: the stakes of the drama had spiraled a little too high for my taste. I've written about this problem in serials before: to keep the momentum, the plots often take wilder and wilder twists that push my own limits for the suspension of disbelief. But that's just me - serials are wildly popular right now, suggesting that I'm in the minority.
However, the topic that interested me most when I read this book was the writing itself. The description of the book sounds like pure indulgence of the trashy literature kind, but this book is much more carefully done than that. CD Reiss is a good writer, and this book doesn't fall into some of the trappings that page-turner romance sometime does. Everything isn't spelled out for the reader - we get to do some of the thinking on our own. Therese doesn't spend a lot of time going over her emotions, and some of the minor characters are complex and interesting. This is more true in the first book than in the second, which becomes more plot-oriented.
Spin is genre fiction, but Reiss uses some of the sparsity and aversion to cliche of literary fiction to make the reader meet the characters half way, much like good mysteries do. As someone who had spent most of her life reading literary fiction, I love to see this in romance. Especially when the book is making it to the top of Amazon lists.
Is this a trend? A move toward I went to lunch with a friend and fellow romance writer this week, and we discussed our mutual hope for a trends towards stronger writing in romance. Plot is where genre fiction excels, but line-by-line, lots of genre fiction falls flat. Sometimes the prose needs more fine-tuning, and sometimes romance in particular can get lost in emotional turmoil.
Spin - the story and its popularity, suggests that our hopes for a popular trend towards "crossover" romance, romance that appeals to wider audiences, may come soon.