Monday, August 27, 2007

One Little Secret by Allison Bottke

Every once in awhile I get an opportunity to be part of a different type of book tour. This one, for example, is a one month tour where the book is featured at a different blog every day. When Allison Bottke's publicist sent the info for the tour of One Little Secret to me, I thought I might enjoy the novel targeted for what Allison calls Boomer Babes.

I've gotten to be a picky reader, I guess. And I'm (surprise surprise) atypical in my tastes. So I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I'd hoped to.

This book is dedicated to Every woman who has ever had a dream. With God, all things are possible.

Certainly I have dreams. However, they're not much related to those of the main character, Ursula Rhoades. Perhaps some women dream of wealth and fame. Honestly and truly, I don't think those are all that important. Sure I wouldn't mind having more money, wouldn't mind selling enough novels one day that my name is recognized by more than my immediate family and neighbors, but the whole opulent life isn't for me. So descriptions like this drive me crazy (page 26):
Ursula got out of bed and reviewed the schedule for the day as she dressed in a pair of beige Marc Jacobs wide-legged pants, a white Liz Claiborne blouse, and Colin Robertson jute wedge platform wedge sandals. Feeling very Katherine Hepburnesque, she added red lipstick, tied her hair back in a narrow white headband scarf and lavishly sprayed herself with Love in White, a new fragrance she was trying. She wanted everything to be perfect.

So I asked Allison about it:

VRC:I've been following your blog tour this month for the release of your second novel, One Little Secret. I'm interested to see that I'm in the minority (really shouldn't surprise me!) in that I don't place a lot of value in the hottest and latest brand names in fashion. Do you see your novel as promoting a materialistic value system?

Allison: Good question! Valerie, I was 35-years old when I made the choice to fill the empty place in my heart and soul with an intimate relationship with Jesus. It was a choice that changed my life—and the story that unfolded as a result of that new direction u-turn is far more grand and glorious than I could ever have imagined on my own. Yet although I have a new life in Christ, complete with a new value system I take very seriously, I am acutely aware that the “world” is on a different track altogether. After all, I lived on that track for 35 years! I’m also acutely aware that if I want to reach people with my message of faith and forgiveness I need to meet them where they live.

I write Christian inspirational fiction—and yet I don’t specifically write only for Christians. Yes, I am a Christian, but I have friends who are not. I frequently meet people who do not share my belief or my politics or my serious addiction to stiletto heels, but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate. I think too many Christians live in a Christian bubble—how can we shed light on the dark places in the world if we don’t mingle with people who live in the world? I first wanted to write a fun fairy-tale…a dream-come-true adventure about a boomer babe who happened to be a Christian—but many of the people in her drama-rama were not. Yet she saw this as an opportunity to share her faith—not make judgment calls.

Like a ga-zillion other women, I first fell in love with the genre of “chick-lit” reading the 1996 release of Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. I read a great deal of secular chick-lit. The fun elements of this genre are the lifestyles of the “rich and famous,” the name dropping of designers we read about in People Magazine. However, I’ve found that more and more this genre in the secular market crosses the boundaries of acceptability with regards to morals and values. In my work, I wanted to portray to the fun elements of shopping and fashion yet maintain a strict moral structure regarding marriage, parenthood, truth, friendship and love.

I want to write books that appeal to readers who want to escape into a good story. I love fairy-tales. I’m a 52-year old boomer babe who isn’t afraid to admit that my favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally—that I’d prefer to watch a sappy love story than some literary epic. I’m a hope-filled romantic! The fact that I am a Christian is intrinsically part of who I am—it’s not something I add-on as a label, any more than I can add it on to my books. Some of the characters in my books are Christians, some are not. Welcome to the real world. I don’t mean this to sound harsh—but I love to read fiction because I want to be transported into a story-world—not because I want a pulpit sermon preached to me. If someone reads my book who is still searching for spiritual direction—and if the Holy Spirit uses something I’ve written to move the reader to take a step toward making a U-Turn in their life—then praise God! However, I’m not sure I can define my main audience as either Christian or not.

One Little Secret is a small part of my journey. Yes, it’s a dream come true—being published as a novelist. But I know in my heart that I owe it all to a Sovereign God whose plan for my life requires me to adhere to living a life of spiritual integrity—and that takes conscious choices each and every day I’m alive. Being a Christian who walks the talk isn’t easy—not by a long shot. Scripture tells us, “Choose this day whom you will serve,” and that means more than going to church on Sunday. With every book I am blessed to have published comes a deep feeling of responsibility. God has greatly blessed me, and it is my desire to write work that will glorify Him. Long story short, life is a series of choices each and every moment we are alive—“choose this day whom you will serve.”


fiorinda said...

I find her comments to be interesting in light of the snippet you provided. I like to read descriptions of beautiful clothing, but having it labeled by who designed it just makes me feel like I am reading a product placement.

I can see where she will find a ready audience. I was at the mall the other day and was totally annoyed by this woman exclaiming repeatedly "that's straight off the red carpet." But she may get more out of this book than I, a dedicated clearance and thrift store shopper, would.

Valerie Comer said...

Granted I went back and looked for the most condensed snippet to post!

fiorinda said...

I wanted to add that I wasn't being sarcastic. I know a lot of people who would probably like this book. I'm just not one of them. But that's what reviews are for, so we know in advance if a book is one we should spend our money on.

Niki said...

I was a little disappointed with your review. Not because you didn't like the book, but because you agreed to be part of a blog tour to PROMOTE the book. Instead you asked one question that pretty much insinuated that the author was a materialistic snob. I thought Allison handled it gracefully.

I am a thrift store shopping, penny pinching woman myself and I had no idea who some of the designers were, but that wasn't the point of the book. Just because I'm not living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, doesn't mean that they can't. It's not unbiblical to have wealth. Solomon was a great example of that. The main character appreciated her blessings, she didn't worship them.

My point in even bothering to leave you a comment is this. When you agree to be part of a tour to promote someones work, you should find something positive to say about it - whether you liked the book or not. You said nothing positive or helpful.

Valerie Comer said...

I'm not going to argue with you, Niki. Two points:

I emailed Allison a full two weeks before my day, hoping we could chat a bit. I got her response two days before; it also said due to her move she would be offline right away for a couple of weeks.

Also, I'm not going to lie and say I liked a book when I didn't. I believe I met my obligation by posting the links and bringing awareness to her novel and her site. I know a lot of people who might enjoy the book. We're all different. It's okay.