Brianna: I saw this book as a Kindle freebie a while back and from the cover alone, it had me thinking it’s a cowboy romance. Then I read the blurb and I was like ‘bowling?’. Here’s the cover and blurb:
The Perfect Score Tournament is coming to the small town of Espejo, Texas. The biggest bowling tournament in the state is going to change the lives of three friends.
The Perfect Score: Three novellas of women on a bowling team who all sign up for the tournament… what they find is more than a 300 game.
One Night Stand
Babs Loomis is a bitter woman. Her husband left her after five years because they couldn’t have children and he didn’t want a woman that was barren. She is a chain smoker, and a drinker, intent on getting as much pleasure as she can out of life. She bowls for company – Veronica and Marlene are her closest friends. When she runs into Jimmy Tanaka at the tournament, a former friend of her ex-husband’s, her bitterness turns into something completely different and totally unexpected.
Can Babs overcome her own ghosts and find more than a one night stand?
Veronica Avery needs to get laid. It’s been five years since her husband died in a car accident and she’s lonely and tired of trying to meet men that end up with a big “L” on their forehead. When she joins The Perfect Score bowling tournament, her modest hopes are pinned on meeting a man she might feel comfortable going to bed with.
She’s not expecting to meet Patrice Goldman, a woman that inspires feelings of passion and longing in her cobwebby heart. Afraid and confused, Veronica tries to deny her growing feelings for the auburn haired woman, but fate has other things in mind for the woman in black. It’s time to shed her widow’s weeds and live again.
Marlene is a big girl and has always been a big girl, but she’s a kick-ass bowler, determined to finally hit that 300 game. The Perfect Score tournament at the Starlite Bowling Alley is her chance to show the world that she’s worth something more than just a quick lay.
When she meets Buck Miller at the tournament, she falls instantly in lust. When their fabulous sex turns into a relationship, Marlene runs like a scared rabbit. Will Buck give up his goal of a perfect game to convince the woman of his dreams that he loves her? Or will Marlene’s stubbornness ruin her chances at a 300 game and a man of her own?
J9: I saw that and thought, wow, are we at the bottom of the athlete barrel!?
Brianna: First of all, bowling?!! That cover, although it’s a nice cover, doesn’t portray what the blurb talks about. They’re so mismatched, it’s like there was a switch-a-roo in the cover department. But that’s beside the point. What caught my attention is that the heroine in the One Night Stand story is a chain smoker. The smoking turned me off. If its mentioned in the blurb, you know it's going to be mentioned throughout the book.
You don't smoke, do you?
J9: I don’t smoke and I have a very low tolerance for smoking. Growing up I hated cigarettes and was glad when the East Coast implemented the public smoking ban. When I move to Indiana with my husband they still didn’t have a public smoking ban and I became a homebody so I didn’t have the side effects of secondhand smoke. I feel so strongly about it that I detest smoking in books.
Brianna: I don't think I've ever read a book where one of the leads smokes. Maybe one of the BDB books? If I have, it wasn't like I was bombarded with it.
J9: Yes, Vishous in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series smokes but it’s described as smelling like a mix of chocolate and Starbucks--I could probably get behind that kind of smoking!
It’s very common in historical novels set in England to have the heroes smoke cheroots, a cheap tobacco cigar. In one of my favorite historicals of all time, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, the heroine, Callie, has a list of things women don’t do that she’s going to try and one of them is smoking a cheroot. I’m not sure why I have no problem with this kind of smoking.
When I started reading romance in the 90’s (books likely published in 80’s), smoking was an alpha-male trait and lots of heroes smoked. I remember smoking heroes in Diana Palmer’s books, especially her cowboy romances. I stopped reading contemporaries the moment I discovered historicals so I can’t speak to current contemporary romance.
Brianna: I read quite a bit of contemporary romance and I can’t recall a single time where the hero or heroine smoked. I can’t stand the smell of smoke either. It’s disgusting. Both my parents were smokers so I grew up in it. I was glad when my mom quit.
I don’t mind drinking in my romance novels (unless the character is constantly drunk) but I don’t want smoking. And I find myself tsk-tsking when I see smoking in movies.
J9: Yeah, it’s funny that I have the same sentiments. I don’t mind moderate drinking but smoking says something about a character in a way. I recently read a two-book contemporary MM series, Impulse by Amelia Gormley, where one lead is a smoker but he has real issues with being a smoker. He only smokes outside, washes his hands when he comes inside and uses mouthwash nonstop. Smoking is a nervous habit he used to cope with his abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s the only example I can think of in a contemporary romance where I didn’t mind the smoking since it was part of the character development. I hope in the final book three he quits smoking entirely!
Our question to you readers – what do you think of smoking in books? Does it bother you at all?