Thursday, 20 December 2012

Considering Kate by Nora Roberts

Considering Kate (2001)
Nora Roberts
Grade: A-
Genre: 'contemporary' romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Stanislaski series: (1) Taming Natasha, (3) Falling for Rachel, (4) Convincing Alex and (5) Waiting for Nick

Once I read Waiting for Nick, I couldn’t not start Considering Kate – NR and her Stanislaski series is just much too addictive. Considering Kate wasn’t what I expected (though I didn’t know what to expect) but all in all, it was a brilliant way to round off what is arguably NR’s most consistently excellent series.

At twenty-five and still in her prime, Kate has decided that it’s time to retire from the stage and return home to open up her own ballet school. It’s a difficult decision to make, especially since she’s still so young, but years of endless rehearsals, performances, travelling and making small talk with those in the arts and culture circles has made Kate weary and she longs for a family and life of her own in the small town where she grew up. An old building in the area has recently gone on the market and while neglected and in need of serious refurbishment, it’s the right place for what Kate wants; and what Kate wants, she gets.

There’s only one man right for the job: Brody O’Connell. Kate literally bumps into Brody in her mother’s toy store and the sight of six feet two inches of solid, hot, hard male sets her pulse racing and her most flirtatious side comes out to play. To her delight, he’s just as attracted and flirts right back. Then, bam! Kate finds out that he has a son and she is disgusted that a married man had the audacity to flirt back and the cold shoulder that she hits him with is just as devastating as her saucy bantering.

Of course, that was never the full story. Brody has been a single father to Jack for four years after his wife, Carrie died of cancer. With a two-year-old son in tow, estranged from his own parents as well as Carrie’s, life was difficult as he tried to find that work-life balance to try and give Jack the love and attention that a little boy without his mother needed, while having enough money to do this. A year ago, he finally returned to his childhood home to continue his fledgling construction business out of the city where he would have the freedom to be more hands-on for Jack.

Brody has no desire for a relationship while Jack still demands so much of his time and attention, but no matter what his head tells him, his heart (or loins, for that matter) want something very different. And that something is Kate Kimball. She’s insanely beautiful, outrageously demanding and unapologetically forward about her feelings for him. But most importantly, she adores Jack and his son feels exactly the same way. Their ensuing relationship is fast, furious and mutually satisfying for both parties. Both Kate and Brody need to be quick about deciding what they want before Jack starts getting the wrong ideas …

This is a brilliant way to round off the series. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I think (off of the top of my head) this is NR’s most consistent series. Her series are usually trilogies or quartets, but there are the odd few like this one, In Death and the MacGregors that go beyond the usual formulae as there are too many characters that need a happy ending for the series to stop on a mere three or four books. Even in a trilogy or quartet, I find that there will always be at least one book that lags a bit that I enjoy less than the others, but I can honestly say that no such book exists in the Stanislaski series. I love them all and although I think I can say that I love Waiting for Nick the most, there isn’t a book that I can say that I like the least. Unless you’re a NR fan and are familiar with her series, I don’t think you can truly understand the significance of this.

Considering Kate deliberately mirrors Taming Natasha and I love how Natasha notices this in the book. It makes it a little clichéd, but I do think that it is appropriate given that these are respectively the first and last novels in the series; we’ve come a full circle and it adds to that sense of closure, though I would love a book about Brandon once his wild side has calmed down a little. Kate likewise falls for Brody and Jack just as Natasha did with Spence and Freddie and it’s just like taking a slightly more modern trip down memory lane.

Kate is fantastic and will be remembered as (in my opinion) one of NR’s most forward heroines. She definitely knows her own mind and desires, as I have never seen a NR heroine be so upfront to the hero about her desire to sleep with him. Not that I find that a problem; it’s brilliant. For his part, Brody is flummoxed and flustered at Kate’s brutal honesty. As a single father, he’s a bit out-of-practise with the whole dating scene and so his reaction to Kate’s propositions are all the more genuine and funny to watch. I love the pair of them.

Jack has to be one of the cutest NR kids ever. I can imagine saying that about all kids in NR’s books, but it’s just the inexplicable truth and I’d want them all as my own kids. He takes to Kate as a baby takes to milk and it’s adorable to see how she feels exactly the same way. It’s a natural reaction for both parties and Brody is the one left feeling a little shell-shocked at how easily they mesh together, which I just find adorable. He’s been so used to his single-fatherhood that although it’s a pleasant surprise to find that Kate loves Jack just as he does, he doesn’t really expect it and that makes it even better to watch.

I quoted Spence in Waiting for Nick musing about how much practice he would have interrogating boys by the time Katie got to that age. As most of Considering Kate is set in and around Kate’s home, we see a lot of Natasha and Spence and I love it. We really get to see Spence’s protective-father side emerge and while he wants to see the best for his daughter and knows that Brody is it, it’s still hard to let go. I think this is the funniest scene in the book:

“Katie, is that fresh coffee I…” Spencer Kimball stopped short in the doorway, slapped hard in the heart by the sight of his baby girl wrapped like a vine around his carpenter.
They broke apart, with the guilty jerk of a child caught with its hand in the cookie jar.
For an awkward, endless five seconds no one spoke nor moved.
“I, ah …” Dear God, was all Spencer could think. “I need to … hmm. In the music room.”
He backed out, walked quickly away.
Brody dragged his hands through his hair, fisted them there. “Oh God. Get me a gun. I’d like to shoot myself now and get it over with.”
“We don’t have one.” She gripped the back of a ladder-back chair. The room was still spinning. “It’s all right.  My father knows I kiss men on occasion.”
Brody dropped his hands. “I was about to do a hell of a lot more than kiss you, and on your mother’s kitchen table.”

Utterly, utterly brilliant. We need more of these scenes in all NR’s books!

Yay! for a great Stanislaski reunion!  Or several, depending on how you look at it. We see some family members more than others but the biggie is at the end of the book where we get a calm and collected Rachel sitting down with a very confused Brody and points out everyone to him. It’s a great scene because it gives us the chance to firstly, observe Brody in an otherwise alien environment for him, secondly, see his reaction to his son fitting in like the missing puzzle piece and lastly, to help us, the reader, keep track of the sheer size of the Stanislaski family. I made a family tree of the Stanislaski family tree ages ago when I read the first four novels, that I was convinced that I had included in one of my earlier reviews; I hadn’t, so I've put it here. Anyway, it was fifteen years out-of-date, and so underneath is the latest version. I think I’ve got all the kids to date on it, and I’m almost one-hundred per cent sure that I’ve put the children to the right parents, but since I can’t find an ‘official’ family tree in any of my Stanislaski books, then we’ll have to go with this. Isn’t it fabulous?

There was a great side-story with Brody’s parents. He was an only child and nothing he ever did, then or now, could ever be good enough for his father. He left home as soon as he could and while his relationship with his father is still rocky, Jack’s presence has a tendency to smooth everything over. I wrote a little about parental respect in my review for Passion and Considering Kate is where I remembered to discuss it. Unlike Brody, Kate comes from a large, loving family that isn’t afraid to tell each other what they think when the occasion calls for it because ultimately, they know that they love each other. Brody hasn’t had quite the same easy-going upbringing and his relationship with his father is often tense and full of angry words because that’s just the way that they’re used to and don’t know any better. Brody now has the chance to learn from the Stanislaski’s example and it’s a good influence on him and allows him to mend the broken bridges he has with his father before it’s too late.

Just because I feel the need to clarify, I don’t own Considering Kate nor Waiting for Nick in the covers that I posted; I don’t own any of the Stanislaski series as individual books, though for the sake of my Shelfari shelf, I wish I did. They’re all omnibus collections and because it’s so unbelievably pretty, here’s a picture of the copy of Waiting for Nick/Considering Kate that I own, for my own piece of mind.

All in all, this was a fantastic end to a series and I'm very proud of myself for finishing the six books in a year, but sad that it's over. For some reason, I read Luring a Lady (book two) first and don't have a review of it, which may or not be remedied in the future. Otherwise, links to the other reviews as above. The Stanislaskis are Ukrainian and so you have that extra cultural dimension to the series as well as the bonus of having a multi-generational element with the last two books revolving around the kids. My only complaint is that I want more books! NR really needs to get back into writing these longer family-based series. Don't miss this!

Images: Considering Kate and Waiting for Nick / Considering Kate

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