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Dear Thursday: BURN by Crystal Hubbard [Book 3 of 2011]

One of the things I promised myself when deciding to do my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge again this year, was that you guys would have to put up with more same authors, sequels and more straight-forward romance. I didn’t read either last year, and there’s just no way I could do that again this year. I had to put CHILDREN OF THE WATERS by Carleen Brice at the bottom of my queue, I couldn’t finish reading THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS trilogy. But the lack of romance wasn’t the challenge’s fault. For whatever reason, none of my favorite romance writers published last year, and I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding new romance writers with stories that engage me. Luckily, a few of my favorite romance writers are putting out books this year, so my “Dear Thursday” series will definitely be a little more romantic this year. First up BURN by Crystal Hubbard.

Why I Decided To Read It: Being in an BW/WM IR (interracial relationship) myself, I adore BW/WM IR romance novels — that is, I would love to adore more of them. It’s just that so many of them have the same plot. A white guy falls in love with black woman because she’s outrageously beautiful and they have hot sex, BW’s family doesn’t approve, WM and BW get into an argument and split up, then they get back together after BW comes to her senses and tells off her family, who then decide to just go with the relationship, because she did such a great job telling them off. Don’t get me wrong, I adored this plotline in the movie, SOMETHING NEW, but I’m sick of it now. The other thing that keeps me away from a lot of IR romance is that the IR just isn’t decently written (grammar, characters that are boring or without internal motivation, meandering plot line). Crystal Hubbard is a decent writer and she¬†never¬†uses the SOMETHING NEW plot. She is hands down my favorite IR (interracial relationship) romance author, and her book, CRUSH, is one of my all time favorites. So now I just put her on pre-order, as soon as Amazon notifies me that she’s coming out with a new book.

What It’s About: A woman who narrowly escaped being killed by her abusive ex-husband signs up for private lessons with a sexy dojo owner, so that she can protect herself when her ex gets out of jail. Sparks ensue.

What Makes It Different: Crystal Hubbard is unusual within her category, since she really does take the time to craft heroines that are different from the heroine that came in the novel before. For example, even though CRUSH is my favorite of her novels, she hasn’t written main characters like those since. BURN continues with this tradition. The main character goes on an interesting journey, in which she must learn to protect herself AND open herself up to love.

What I Loved: Well-written sex that reads hot while also taking into consideration the main character’s abusive past. It’s set in St. Louis (my hometown) and in Webster Groves (where I worked as a teen). Also, this one is a page turner. I knocked it out in two days.

What I Didn’t Like: There’s an intriguing B-story involving the main character’s best friend and a younger man that never fully gets explored. And one other thing, which I’ll discuss in ….

Writing Lessons Learned

Big Stakes call for a big battle. Hubbard does a fantastic job of setting up her stakes, only to have the big battle feel a bit anti-climatic. I can’t say too much more without giving away the end, but keep in mind that as your stakes get bigger, so must your battle scene. This is one thing that the TWILIGHT series really gets right.

Emotional Compatibility. I really liked the relationship between the main character and the dojo owner, because it works not just on a physical level, but also an emotional level. He wasn’t into her, just b/c she was hot. He’s hard-wired to protect and she needs protection. It made total sense. When incorporating romance into your novel, it’s important to make sure that your characters compliment each other, that they each have something that the other one needs. It makes it much easier to cheer for them.

Character-based sex. As someone who writes sex scenes herself, I’ve become obsessed with making sure that my characters have the kind of sex that stems from character — not just what I think makes for a hot sex scene. Crystal Hubbard obviously feels the same way. Good job.

To Whom Would I Recommend this Book: Folks looking for a decent IR romance without the usual race-crutch tropes (then read CRUSH!), Folks On The Verge Of Taking Karate Lessons, Really Anyone Looking For A Decent Page-Turner Romance Novel…

Click on the book to purchase from Amazon!