Romance Times Review gave “Dolls Behaving Badly” a nice review last week (thanks RT!)
Unfortunately, only subscribers can read the actual review so I’ve included a piece of it below (I don’t subscribe either, but my publicist was nice enough to send me an Adobe version):
Quirky characters that could only be found in Alaska and the ghost of the heroine’s Polish grandmother keep this novel fresh and innovative. The often funny story of a woman finding herself and her art shows off Ritchie’s voice and deft touch with difficult subjects. However, editing of the over-abundance of clever devices would have made this book truly spectacular.
I don’t consider “Dolls Behaving Badly” to be a romance novel and RT categorized it as mainstream, which fits my taste. I didn’t even want to include a romantic attachment for Carla, my main character. I wanted only hints and teases but alas, my editor and also various readers suggested that the book would be stronger if I did so. And so I did. And so the book is probably stronger. But alas, rewrites are like buying a new pair of glasses: Once you get used to seeing yourself in the new pair, you never quite look right in the old.
I’ve never been much of a romance novel reader, except when I was a teenager and we lived out in the country and there wasn’t much else to do but read. Our mother would take my three sisters and me to the library every two weeks and we’d check out seven books (the limit), and since we were all avid readers we devoured all of our books and everyone else’s, too. I preferred westerns but my oldest sister had a weakness for romance, so early on I became familiar with various bodice-busters (which were much, much tamer back in those days but still thrilling). For some reason I singled out Phyllis Whitney, probably because her books were more mystery than romance, and I think I read everything she had written at the time.
Later, after college when I was restless and not sure what to do with my life, I hitchhiked across the country with a boyfriend, and one of the things I soon learned was that people who picked us up expected us to talk to them and, worse yet, listen to them (for hours!), so I took to buying thick romance books at truckstops and drugstores. I’d sit in the backseat with the ferret (for we hitchhiked with a ferret, a smelly, noisy, irritating ferret named Willie, and we were forever getting booted out in the middle of nowhere) and read about woman in dire circumstances running from men who treated them cruelly but kissed them with wicked abandon.
There are no cruel kisses in my novel and not much wicked abandon, either. But there is a hint of naughtiness (oh, naughtiness!) and dolls in, um, compromising positions.
Maybe it was the hint of sex or the far-off memory of reading about heated kisses as I waited for a ride in South Dakota, but after receiving the Romance Times review, I was hungry for muffins. Buttery, moist, heavy muffins.
So I whipped up a batch of vegan blueberry oatmeal muffins. They were good and thick and nourishing, and they made me feel full and satisfied, or at least as satisfied as one can feel after eating a muffin.
Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/3 cup honey or 1/3 cup sugar (if you use sugar, increase w.w. flour by a couple handfuls so that the mixture doesn’t become too wet)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup almond or soy milk
1 cup blueberries
1 small banana
Preheat oven to 425. Mix dry ingredients together. Fold in milk and blueberries. Add banana and beat until dough is thick and slightly sticky. Pour into muffin tins and bake 20 minutes or until inserted knife pulls clean. Makes six large or ten regular sized muffins. Eat fresh from the oven with lots of margarine. Tastes best after reading romance novels or watching sexy movies/TV shows.