Guest Post: Author Kathryn Barrett on Genre Busting + Giveaway

My guest today is Kathryn Barrett, the author of an unusual and fascinating spin on the Adam-and-Eve story of the Garden of Eden, Temptation. She’s here today to talk about how her love story of a Hollywood actress and an Amish furniture maker (while extremely compelling, see my review for deets) breaks multiple traditional genre concepts in to tell its story.


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The Genre-Busting Book

I never set out to write an Amish romance. Frankly, I’ve never even read an Amish romance.

But somehow I managed to write one, at least seemingly write one.

Temptation is not an Amish romance; it’s a romance set in Amish country, a distinction I wanted to make clear. It features Amish characters, including a main character, Jacob, who is an Amish furniture maker.

Nor is Temptation, like most Amish romances, an inspirational romance (sometimes called Christian romances). In an inspirational romance, a character typically finds their faith (having nearly lost it during the course of the book) at the end. Temptation is, if anything, an anti-inspirational. Jacob does not (spoiler alert!) find his faith in the end. At least, not in the traditional way. I suspect he’s found something much better, but I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination.

I never set out to write a genre-buster, but when I heard my publisher refer to it that way in an interview, months before Temptation was released, I realized she’d correctly characterized the book.

Temptation by Kathryn BarrettOne of my biggest fears, right before Temptation was released, was that I’d get awful reviews on Amazon, similar to some of Annette Blair’s, from people complaining about the fact that there’s sex in an Amish romance. Her books (which otherwise got very good reviews) feature explicit sex, as does mine, and I could just see the same outraged reviewers labeling my book “trashy” due to its content. So I tried to be clear in the early marketing: don’t expect to find a sweet romance here. On the other hand, the idea of very explicit sex, in this setting and between these characters, is somehow wrong as well. (That comes later, after the epilogue, trust me.)

Genre exists partly because readers want to be reassured when they buy a book that certain conventions are met: a happy-ever-after ending, a solution to the crime, etc. Readers want the comfort of knowing that their worst fears—of a main character dying, for instance—won’t come true. But sometimes we want a little extra in the mix: a police procedural cop who falls in love, a horror novel set in outer space. An Amish romance that doesn’t close the door when the hanky panky starts.

A few months ago some writers were talking about a rumor they’d heard of a new “Amish erotica” sub-sub-genre. We all expressed our shock—such a mismatch of expectations! But I wondered if my book had somehow contributed to that meme. Or is there someone out there writing hot, steamy Amish romance?

Perhaps they didn’t set out to write an Amish romance. Perhaps they’d never even read one…

What are the bounds of genre, and when is it okay to break them? Do readers’ expectations matter? I’d love to hear what readers think, in the comments.

Thanks for having me here at Reading Reality, Marlene, and allowing me to explore the idea of genre.

Kathryn BarrettAbout Kathryn BarrettKathryn Barrett has been writing women’s fiction since the day her youngest daughter left for pre-school. All was going well, until she read a book called “30 Mistakes In Fiction Writing” and realized she was making all of them.

One by one, she’s overcome the mistakes and learned to make a few more along the way. “The best way to learn to write is to write,” she says. “Period.”

Kathryn lives near London in the enchanting countryside of England. When she’s not writing, she’s busy training a rescue dog, tramping around archaeological ruins, and occasionally making wine runs to France. Because nothing fuels the imagination like a good Bordeaux.

To learn more about Kathryn, go to her website, Facebook, and Twitter.



Kathryn is kindly offering TWO giveaways! At Reading Reality, she is giving away an ebook copy of Temptation. The grand prize for the blog tour is a Kindle Paperwhite. Check out both Rafflecopters!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Temptation by Kathryn Barrett

Format read: ebook provided by the publisher
Temptation by Kathryn BarrettFormats available: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance
Length: 248 pages
Publisher: Entangled
Date Released: February 25, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Laura Hayes has been acting since she was an infant, making Hollywood the only home she has ever known. But when she moves to Pennsylvania’s Amish country to film her next movie, she discovers there’s more to life than a pair of Jimmy Choos and a Marie Claire cover.

Intrigued by the Amish simplicity, she’s soon gardening and baking plum pies—and enjoying it. And when her neighbor turns out to be the local heartthrob and a talented furniture maker, she realizes that what’s missing from her life might be the love of a good man—not to mention the perfect heirloom tomato.

Jacob fights the urge to question the teachings of his Amish beliefs—despite his desire to create furniture that is beautiful as well as useful—and struggles with his longing for the sexy stranger who makes him feel truly alive for the first time. As his attraction grows, so do his doubts, until he’s forced to face temptation and decide once and for all what is truly worth the fight.

My Review:

Anything forbidden always seems so terribly tempting.

Laura Hayes is not merely an actress, she’s also a celebrity. She enjoys the “work” but not the trappings that go with it. Including the mother who only sees Laura for what she can buy for her, and the ex-husband still trying to sponge off her. Laura longs for a “real life” like her sister Meg.

Jacob Hostetler is an Amish furniture maker. He enjoys the work but he longs to make the designs that are in his mind, designs that are more than the “Plain” designs permitted by his faith. He is inspired to make works of art modeled after the Arts and Crafts work of Frank Lloyd Wright that he has seen pictured in forbidden books he’s borrowed from the public library.

These are two people who should never meet. But Laura is making a movie in Lancaster, PA, about an Amish woman who commits adultery to give her husband a son. It’s a long film shoot, and Laura is tired of living in hotels and inns. She buys a house in Lancaster. Then she goes into Jacob’s shop to buy a cradle for her sister’s new baby.

Jacob is a widower. He never expected to find another woman who would fascinate him the way his late wife Susannah did.

Laura never thought that any of the Amish men would be young, not to mention gorgeous.

Lightning strikes where it shouldn’t.

Through one very long summer, as Laura films a movie about an Amish woman committing an act that she would definitely be shunned for, Laura and Jacob meet, continue to draw sparks from each other, and pull away, both stung and stunned.

Laura doesn’t understand the cost to Jacob if they act on what they feel. After all, they are both single and unattached.

Jacob has a young son and a mother. If he leaves the community, he loses them, and they lose his support. The price is high.

But he can’t keep away. He tries to be just a good neighbor, helping Laura with her garden, fixing her porch roof when it breaks. making furniture when she asks.

There is always more between them, not acted upon, but not always unspoken.

And someone leaves Laura nasty notes because they know her relationship with Jacob is a threat.

While Jacob questions everything that he ever believed, because he also wants to build the furniture he wants, and not only the furniture he is supposed to. Cutting himself off from his art is like cutting off part of his soul.

His art is half of his soul, and Laura may be the other half. Without either of them, what does he have left?

Escape Rating B: The love story simmers through the whole book, and you can’t help but get caught up in the “will they/won’t they” question. As the reader, you want them to have a happy ending, but because of the bigger questions, you’re not entirely sure what a “happy ending” really means.

Part of the happy ending, outside of the love story, is that Laura needs to put on her “big girl panties” and deal with her mother and the other leeches surrounding her celebrity life. She needs to get control of herself before she can give that self to anyone else.

It was good that it takes quite a while before you figure out who the “evildoer” is. There shouldn’t have been any easy answers in this one, because this is not about black and white questions.

The “forbidden fruit” aspects of the love story made for good fiction, but I can’t help but wonder how close to the Amish way of life the portrayal of Jacob might be. (Reviewer’s note: My husband grew up in Lancaster, and he just shook his head at the description of the plot)

witness movieThis story was still fascinating, and I couldn’t put it down. It also makes me want to go and watch the movie Witness.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 3-24-13

Sunday Post

It’s officially Spring! It may or may not feel like Spring where you are on the planet but it is officially Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. (For those in the Southern Hemisphere, happy Autumn!)

In Seattle, Spring blew in on high, chilly winds, but we seem to have gotten some sun. Don’t envy me too much, it’ll rain again soon. And again. And again.

Some things happen only once. Like winning the Lucky in Love Blog Hop. The lucky winner  of the $10 Amazon Gift Card was Stacey P.

Night Demon by Lisa KesslerBut you still have plenty of time to enter some of the other giveaways from last week. Lisa Kessler is giving away four prizes to celebrate the launch of Night Demon, the latest book in her Night series.

One lucky winner will take away a copy of Jeanette Grey’s fabulous new romance, Take What You Want. Check out the giveaway details here.

And all sweet with no bitter at all, Nina Croft is giving away a copy of Bittersweet Blood, the terrific first book in her new paranormal romance series. Details here on that giveaway.

Take What You Want by Jeanette GreyThis week’s complete recap:

Guest Post: Night Demon Launch Party + Giveaway
A- Review: Take What You Want by Jennifer Grey
Interview with Jennifer Grey + Giveaway
A- Review: The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
A- Review: Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft
Guest Post: Nina Croft’s Top Ten Movies + Giveaway
B Review: Border Lair by Bianca D’Arc
Stacking the Shelves (39)

Looking ahead to next week, I have two guests again. Christine Bell will be here on Tuesday, with a laugh-out-loud guest post that is totally apropos for her latest book, Down and Dirty. Because the book was more than a little of that, but all in pursuit of a good story. You’ll see in Tuesday’s review.

Temptation by Kathryn BarrettThursday my guest is Kathryn Barrett, as part of the tour for Temptation, her romance set in Amish country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I’ll confess that I wanted to read this tale of a Hollywood actress “tempting” an Amish furniture-maker because my husband grew up in Lancaster! Kathryn will be here with a guest post and I’ll be reviewing this modern take on Adam and Eve.

Both tours have book giveaways!

Looking ahead to the following week, April 4-5 is my second annual Blogo-Birthday! The blog and I have back-to-back birthdays. The blog is 2. I’m not saying. This will be a Hobbit-type birthday, which means that I give away presents. Come and celebrate with me!

Reading Reality Blogo Birthday