Guest Review plus Interview: Roman Holiday – Chained by Ruthie Knox (Roman Holiday #1)
November 11 2013
Received from publisher via NetGalley
Yummy Man – Roman Díaz
Kick Ass Chick – Ashley Bowman
From Goodreads –
Meet Ashley and Roman—complete opposites who can’t hide their attraction—in Episode 1 of Ruthie Knox’s eBook original serial, Roman Holiday.
Ashley Bowman is having a bad week. Reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, she returns to the Florida Keys only to learn that a heartless Miami developer has gotten hold of the crappy vacation rentals she calls home. Ashley has one day to clear out before Roman Díaz destroys the only place in the world that matters to her. Chaining herself to a palm tree in the bulldozers’ path seems like a good way to stop him . . . until she realizes she should’ve brought food and water. And pants. Also, it would help if the evil developer weren’t so ridiculously hot.
The last thing Roman Díaz needs is some sun-kissed blond protester getting her picture in the newspaper and messing up his plans. He bought the property fair and square, and the resort he wants to build on the site is the key to realizing his highest ambitions. But when a hurricane blows through, Roman has to hustle Ashley to safety if he wants to protect his reputation—and that means giving in to her unreasonable demands.
Roman needs to learn a little compassion, and Ashley’s decided to teach it to him . . . even if she has to drag him all over the Eastern Seaboard to do it.
Ruthie Knox is someone I started reading because of a great story called Ride with Me, about a cross country bike ride. I ended up emailing her on a giveaway which I didn’t win, but we corresponded a bit about bike rides including RAGBRAI (across Iowa) which I have done in total 15 times, and partially some other years. Ruthie’s Uncle Mike also does this ride. This book got me reading her Camelot series, which I love and highly recommend. One of the things I enjoy most in books is humor and Ruthie is funny.
So Ruthie is doing a couple of things which are new to me and very interesting. The first is Roman Holiday. This book is being released in episodes, as I have seen in magazine stories or on fanfiction with its updates. It will be ten episodes. The first chapters came out this past Monday, November 11th then the next four episodes will release on following Mondays, November 18th, 25th, and December 2nd, and 9th. There will be another five episodes in a few months. I find the concept fascinating, but I have to admit, even with authors I love in fanfiction, sometimes I wait for the whole story to be available. Of course, on fanfiction, that isn’t a bad policy because some authors don’t finish their story or take years to do it. (For more on the concept and Ruthie, see my interview with Ruthie below.)
This review is of the first installment of Roman Holiday: Chained. It is an eBook of 40 pages. I liked this story and I intend to keep reading and post a review after all ten episodes are available. So let me explain my rating and what I liked or didn’t like about the story.
I have some negativity about stories with the rich guy and the ordinary girl. I realize they are popular right now but I find them somewhat unrealistic. That said, it’s a bit unfair to say, since I read paranormal romance, urban fantasy and contemporary romance where it is all about escape and often unreal.
The other thing which makes me love a story, whatever the length, is the emotional attachment I form to the characters. In this beginning, we are introduced to Ashley and Roman, but it doesn’t go far enough for me to be fully attached. We get to know Ashley more than Roman. They are interesting, attractive and think they know what they want. I find their plans a step into crazy.
Ashley is trying to stop Roman from developing, read tearing down, a property he bought from her grandma. She would like to buy it and continue to run it as a resort hotel but doesn’t have any money or financial backing. Roman’s personal life and marriage plans are ridiculous.
But since they are interesting and attractive and a bit delusional, I see the opportunities for humor and personal growth here. Ashley is an honorable sort. And she calls herself “an impulsive, grieving moron.” So she is not as crazy as her actions suggest. Her thoughts and ideas are like a rambling wave of emotions and passions. Roman is like a sterile, organized box. I can’t say I find him hot yet; although I do want to mess up his hair or clothes. The end of this installment is absolutely precious with Ashley turning his ordered world inside out!
So I hope you will come to know and love Ruthie, too. Here is my interview, where you can learn more about the concepts and Ruthie:
Can you briefly explain the concept; do you call it serialization? And when do you expect the second 5 “books” or “parts” to start?
Roman Holiday is a serialized novel, which means that it is published in installments. The model for this particular serialization is television (which is another serialized form of entertainment), which is why there are ten “episodes” that will be released in two seasons. Basically this means the story will come to readers on five consecutive Mondays in November-December (beginning November 11) and then in a second season on five Mondays next March.
The episodes aren’t standalones — this is one chronologically continuous epic romance story — but they do each have their own theme and internal arc, with movement in place and character growth from the beginning of the episode to the end. I didn’t want readers to feel like I was throwing one cliffhanger at them after another; I wanted them to feel, when they came to the end of an episode, as though they had arrived at a point of closure, even as there were many things still to be resolved.
How did you get the idea for this concept? I guess magazines do something like this where they run parts of stories in a continuing series and fanfiction works like this with updates as frequently as the author cares to post them.
Right! Random House actually came to me to ask if I’d be interested in doing a serialized story, but the reason I was interested is that I studied serialized novels in college. I was a big Victorian literature buff, and the mid-to-late Victorian period was a time when periodicals really flourished. There were lots and lots of magazines looking for stories, and novelists like Charles Dickens capitalized on the serial format to find an audience.
Today, we have television, fan fiction, and sites like Wattpad (where free fiction is posted by the authors, often serialized as it’s written), all of which deliver stories in serial format. It’s not a big stretch to move from here to serialized romance novels — which writers like Beth Kery, Sylvia Day, and Noelle Adams have already proved can be quite successful.
Why did you decide to try this concept?
I was interested in a few different things about writing a serialization. First, it presents a lot of challenges. As you write, you have to think about all these temporal issues — how long has it been in time since the reader last encountered this character or theme? What can you expect the reader to remember? How much do you have to foreshadow? — but at the same time you have to remember that once the serialization is complete, the novel will be around forever as a single story, so you can’t beat people over the head with things, either. It’s tricky.
I think what we’ve seen so far in serialized romance is a fairly tight focus on the couple, with highly erotic, high-concept stories that don’t demand a lot from the reader in terms of what they have to remember from one installment to the next. Whereas what I wanted to do is a lot more Dickensian — this sort of sprawling, zany, epic road-trip romance, with a lot of different characters and movement, and two supremely screwed-up leads who have a great deal of personal growth to do if they’re ever going to be able to be happy together. Also, a romantic subplot with a woman a lot of my readers will dislike at first.
So these are big challenges. I like challenges. 🙂
Will Roman Holiday be sold later as a complete book also?
I’m not sure. I’ve talked about it with Random House, but I haven’t seen official release dates or covers or anything yet. It’s really up to them. I certainly hope it will, though. I designed the story to be readable as a serial or as a straight-through novel. I’d love to see Roman Holiday become one of those giant, fat beach paperbacks, because it’s 150,000 words long, which is a very long book. I’ve always wanted to write one of those big old Steven King brick o’ books. 🙂
Flash four time!
Flash four questions about random things ~
Sweet or salty snacks?
What color is your toothbrush?
White and orange
Your high school experience: good or bad?
What do you like on your pizza?
Thank you so much, Ruthie! I really appreciate the answers to my questions. I look forward to trying out your new story.
The other provocative thing Ruthie has been doing is posting another serial story on Wattpad, where it is FREE to read until the end of the year. This is another version of the “serialization” concept. You can click HERE to read her story, Truly. I’m off to read it now.