Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: What the Librarian Did

What the Librarian Did
Karina Bliss
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Super/March 2010

From the back cover ~

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase 'sex, drugs and rock 'n roll'. Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out first-hand just how 'bad' he really is. Because her secret - and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption - depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

It looks like I'll be hunting down another author's back list. If What the Librarian Did is any indication, then Karina Bliss is an author who can give the reader a well developed plot and characters in the shorter format. I've come to treasure that ability since I started reading Harlequins with any frequency about a year ago.

The librarian and the rock star, a case of opposites attract. Our librarian, Rachel, is a single, 34 year old college librarian with a couple of ex-boyfriends but not much luck in the love department. Our rock star, Devin, comes to college by way of a recent stint in rehab. His life hasn't been his own for years but he's trying to change that. They meet in the library, of course. :) Rachel, to Devin's amazement, doesn't know who he is. This is a new experience for him and so is Rachel. She like no one he's ever known before.

Rachel takes her duties as the librarian very seriously. She enjoys helping students and is always willing to help the new students learn their way around the library. The new student that walks into the library the day before classes begins is not her usual first-time-away-from-home teen. He's projecting bad-boy vibes all over the place. With his stubble and purple boots, throw in a bit of arrogance and he's got Rachel's hackles up. But she is a professional so she dons her librarian cape and offers to help him.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Bliss since this is the first book of hers I've read. I thought she did well with building and making the attraction between Rachel and Devin believable. They both had ghosts from their pasts come back to haunt them which added tension to their developing relationship. It's possible to think of Rachel as having a couple of TSTL moments but the more I thought about it the more I had to concede that Rachel didn't have the perspective of the other characters like I had. So she didn't have the full story. I do understand why she chose to keep her secrets, she was doing what she thought would be the best option available at the time. And she was scared. Scared of rejection and scared of screwing things up.

Devin exuded this air of sensuality, had women chasing him but wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. He wanted to blend in, or try to at least. He was so well known, especially with the college crowd, that he had a hard time remaining anonymous. The novelty of someone not only not knowing him but not bowing down to him, is not lost on Devin. He finds himself enjoying teasing the proper librarian. Bliss writes smart and funny dialogue with her characters trading spirited comments while getting to know each other. Devin has a wicked sense of humor and relishes matching wits with Rachel. For me, the best scenes were of Rachel and Devin teasing each other and relaxing with each other.

Devin is basically told that if he has another drink it will kill him. That's one heck of a wake up call! He leaves America and heads to New Zealand, the place of his birth. It's also where his mom still lives. I found his mom amusing with her straight forward way of talking and her obvious love for her sons. The relationship between Devin and his mom is one of love, affection and concern. Devin is worried about his mom, she's had some health scares, and she's worried about him. About his career and his future.

I did like the conflicts thrown at Rachel and Devin. How they deal with their past, mistakes and regrets, rounded out the romance of this unlikely pair. The ending might have been a little too neatly wrapped up and it might have bothered me if I hadn't already come to like this couple so much. But the overall story was a winner for me. Looking forward to reading more from Karina Bliss.

Rating: A-


  1. Wow, you're right, this sounds like a ton of stuff packed into a small package. How cool that the author pulled it off. Mmm. I like librarian stories.

  2. I liked this one quite a bit as well, and thought the author did a good job with the librarian "stuff." Also, kinda nice to see an academic librarian for a change :) It's a different kettle of fish from the public library world.

    I had some quibbles, but enjoyed this story enough that Bliss is now sitting on my category autobuy list. A small, but respectable club....

  3. CJ ~ I like librarian stories too and this is one of the better ones that I've read.

    Wendy ~ yes, to the academic librarian. So often we get the small town librarian so it was a nice change.

  4. After reading WTLD, I've been buying up her backlist too *g*. AND paying the shipping! So far one has arrived (and I enjoyed it just as much) and three more are on their way.
    For a 'little' book, this one packs quite the nice wallup doesn't it?

  5. Kristie ~ are you still on the hunt for mullets? LOL

    Bliss, like Mayberry, has gone on my tbb list. I'm still a little surprised that I'm reading Harlequins. :)

  6. Great review, Leslie. This one sounds sweet and fun. :)

  7. I liked this one, but not as much as everyone else seemed to. I guess I just got tired of the way that Rachel refused to trust Devin at the end. Yeah, she realized it, of course, but too late, IMO.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed it, and loved Devin.

  8. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Lori - I swear we're Category Reading Twins separated at birth.

  9. Great review, Leslie :D Got my hand on it yesterday. Can't wait to start it :D

  10. I put this book on my list of books to buy after reading Wendy's review. I'm definitely getting this one, Leslie.

  11. Apologies to all – sorry I haven’t replied back. My bad. :( Can I blame the kids? LOL

    Christine ~ It was sweet and funny with some serious issues that made it seem like a longer story.

    Lori ~ I took it as part of Rachel’s character to not trust Devin. She didn’t trust anyone so I expected her to hit bottom before trusting him. I thought Devin was great, his humor and patience with Mark, and with Rachel were all hero worthy.

    Nath ~ I hope you like it!

    Hils ~ I think we’ve got another category author to read. :)