“Crazy for the Competition” has been sitting on my e-bookshelf for quite some time now, because I have been meaning to get a hold of Cindi Madsen’s third Hope Springs novel, which I kept forgetting to do. I’m the type of reader who likes reading serial books in sequence, even if each book can be read as a stand-alone. I was particularly crazy for “Crazy,” however, because of the book cover. Yes, the book cover. I judged it and I liked it. Why? Well, ‘coz the heroine looks ASIAN! Holy Toledo, people! An ASIAN heroine. Lordy, we are, certainly, NOT in Kansas anymore.
Instead, we’re in Wyoming. W-Y-O-M-I-N-G. Who woulda thunk? This is why I love fiction. Anything is just freaking possible.
You can tell I haven’t read many romance books featuring an Asian hero or heroine, right? Sure, I’ve read Amy Tan’s books. Ditto for “Memoirs of a Geisha.” In a romance novel, however? A LIGHT romance? Never. This is a first. History in the making. An OMG moment that I felt right thru my bones.
I learned earlier this year that I liked interracial romances, thanks to J.J. McAvoy’s Eli and Gwen. However, this one is in stark contrast to other IRs I’ve read. First, it’s ultra-light romance. As in – yep, no sexy scenes at all. There were kisses that reached the second base, and then… nada. Zip. Kaput. Zilch. Apparently, our Asian heroine (she’s of Japanese heritage) is an anomaly in this world full of Asian-babe stereotypes. Pre-marital sex, for Quinn Sakata, is an absolute no-no. And, her very white, very alpha, very male hero, Heath Brantley, ABIDED by her rule! Like, what?! They’re not even Mormons in the book, or cultist hard-core brainwashed Christians. Seriously. Ms. Madsen’s got my jaw dropping on the floor.
Second, despite the ultra-light romance here (which I didn’t get or sense from reading the blurb or from looking at the book cover), I actually liked it. Okay, sure, I’m not reading it again, but hey, I liked it a lot. At least, compared to the first book in this series, Second Chance Ranch. That one? I’m not talking about – I’m still trying to not mentally cause fictional Sadie’s brutal death, due to her wishy-washy “second chance” frustrating ways.
Third, I just felt like Ms. Madsen got us to peek into a world and a culture that are so very different from the ones we all seem to read about these days in the romance genre. There’s no BDSM, no me-man-you-woman-omg-that’s-sexy moments. There’s that tiny hint of what Japanese (generally, all straight-laced Asian) family ties are like. Respect for one’s elders is critical to keeping the peace within a typical, middle-class Asian family. Ms. Madsen painted it in such a way that I, personally, could not really tag Chichi and Haha, Quinn’s parents, as the bad people in “Crazy for the Competition.” They remind me so much of my own parents, it’s not even funny. After all, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” was/still is my life. And, I’m nearing my 40’s.
I was happy I got to read “Crazy.” It’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s also making me want to dive into Sawyer Bennett’s newest Wicked Horse book, too. That’s up next… right after I finish devouring the third Hope Springs novel, “The Bad Boy’s Baby.”