On the Same Page…
About the Book:
WINNER OF THE XO ROMANCE PRIZE
Sometimes a girl just has to do what’s in her heart …
By day Miles Franklin, named after the famous author, is a successful lawyer. But by night she writes historical romance novels under the pen name Emma Browning. When Miles’s assistant covertly enters her boss’s novel in one of Australia’s biggest literary awards—and it wins—Miles’s perfectly ordered world is torn apart.
Lars Kristensen smells a rat. As the CEO of Iconic International, the company publishing Miles’s prize-winning novel, he’s determined to meet the author and uncover her true identity. But Miles is equally determined to protect her privacy—and to keep writing. Even if it means mastering pole dancing, and choreographing a love scene in the back of a horse-drawn carriage … Well, she is a romance writer, after all.
Miles has the grit to keep her secret, but Lars has the smouldering looks and arrogance of any romantic hero she has ever imagined.
Hmm. Sometimes a girl just has to turn the page …
On the Same Page is a romance novel and as many of you who regularly follow this blog will know, I have a tricky relationship with romance novels and they don’t often pop up here. I liked the sound of this one though, and the cover is particularly pretty, appealing to the reader in me with the model lying on the grass, lost in a book. Fans of romance fiction will really enjoy this novel. There is a definite rom-com feel to it as the plot unfolds in a comedy of errors fashion. And if you’re a fan of regency romance (which I’m not, unfortunately) you will enjoy the extracts included from Miles’s own novels interspersed throughout the story.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take to Miles, at all. She frustrated me endlessly and I found her to be erratic and incredibly sketchy. There was an inconsistency to her that made it difficult for me to really settle into this story. On the one hand, she would passionately defend the romance genre and Emma’s readers, but she was hiding her true identity as a romance author from everyone in her life, bar one friend. I couldn’t really put my finger on her motivations for keeping her pseudonym a secret. There was certainly an aspect of Miles’s personality that fit with the idea that she was shying away from public life and all of the hoopla that can come with being a successful author. And she was doing just fine really, selling hundreds of thousands of ebooks and making a decent living, with no public profile at all, which is something so unrealistic that it really bothered me. Any self-published author would baulk at this idea that they could be so successful with no public profile at all and each of the very successful ones will have a strong social media presence as well as a website, at a minimum. With so many million books on offer today, books really do not sell themselves. But I digress. While Miles’s personality was one that shied away from the limelight, I couldn’t help but think that she was actually embarrassed for anyone to find out that she was a romance author, which of course, contradicts her passion for the genre. She was certainly afraid of her parents finding out. But, when you truly love something, you’re usually proudly defending it. There was an indication towards the end that for Miles, Emma was her ‘better self’ and that by releasing her out into the world, she was no longer valid. This made more sense to me but I would have liked this to have been explored earlier, strengthening this motivation to keep the pseudonym a secret. By the time I read this, I was so sick of Miles lying and giving everyone the run around. It had lost its potency. And unfortunately, the ending further lets Miles off the hook, making me wonder at the point of her journey; there was no character growth, no turning a new corner, no confronting her fears and moving onto bigger and better things. No standing up to her parents. I was very disappointed about this. The endless round of clumsy antics, accidents and non-stop blushing got on my nerves and I pretty much had zero empathy for Miles. I found myself instead feeling quite sorry for everyone else who was getting roped into her nonsense. One thing though, that I did appreciate about her, was her dedication to her writing. As a writer of historical fiction, authenticity doesn’t come easily, but Miles went to a great deal of effort to ensure she was able to write her scenes as authentically as possible – sometimes, I was taken aback at the lengths she went to, but fortunately for her she had a very accommodating friend in Jack.
Sometimes disliking a main character makes it impossible to appreciate a novel, but there was still plenty in On the Same the Page to keep me reading. There are a whole host of clever literary references and the supporting characters, particularly Jack, were entertaining enough to keep me reading. I quite liked Lars and could completely empathise with his frustrations about Miles, but I truly didn’t understand the attraction he felt towards her. She did nothing but lie to him and waste his time. I kept secretly wishing for him to out her! I did want to initially smack Pippy for even putting Miles into the competition in the first place, but she was kind of endearing and really grew on me as the novel progressed. Crystal was another character I really enjoyed, particularly because she was one of the few people in Miles’s life who didn’t pander to her. It’s a testament to Penelope’s skill as a writer, being able to hold reader interest in the story despite an iffy main character. I’ve read many reviews of Penelope’s previous novels, all highly rated and recommended, and I can see the merit in these accolades.
There’s a couple of really good messages embedded within this story. First, keeping a secret identity can often put you into situations that you would have ordinarily avoided. If you want to maintain control over your life, then perhaps shelve the secret identity. And second, reading, no matter what the chosen genre, should always be valued. In order for reading to be accessible and enjoyable, we need all sorts of genres and storytellers.
Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of On the Same Page for review.
About the Author:
Penelope Janu writes contemporary fiction about clever and adventurous women who don’t mean to fall in love, but do. Penelope’s novels, whether coastal or rural, celebrate Australian communities. Penelope is a lawyer with an interest in social justice issues and the environment. She, like her characters, is up for anything, even though she has a terrible sense of direction. She has six children, big dogs, a distracting husband and never enough time to write. She has travelled to many places in the world but has lived most of her life in Sydney, Australia. When not reading or writing Penelope can be found walking the coastline, or in the bush (though she’s not much of a walking companion as she plots as she walks).
Penelope Janu – Website
On the Same Page
Published by Brio Books
Released on 1st December 2018