About the Book
Book: Better than Fiction
Author: April W. Gardner & Michelle Massaro
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Imagining him was harmless…until it wasn’t.
Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts…
In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.
After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy’s trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell’s offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?
Under Meghan’s skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?
About the Author
April W Gardner writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our southeastern Native tribes. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and mother of two who lives in South Texas. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.
Michelle Massaro writes contemporary fiction, soaked in grace. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.
More from April and Michelle
April and Michelle get a lot of questions about how exactly co-authors write a book. Who writes which part? Did you have any trouble, any conflict? Valid questions! But in the case of Better than Fiction, it was no trouble at all, and neither author can remember a single heated disagreement. In part, because they’d been critique partners for eons and were already working together seamlessly.
It also helped that the story is made up of two intertwining novellas. Each author had her own blank canvas to color on with the other looking on and offering feedback. The most enjoyable part of the process was the challenge of making sure the events in the life of Michelle’s contemporary character (an author) influenced the characters’ decisions in April’s historical plot.
Why intertwining stories? The idea behind it was to show what it’s like to live in the mind of a writer, how her real life makes its way into her stories. The theme of emotional affairs was a good fit, as it is often all too easy for women—even Christian woman—to be drawn to another man and justify it as harmless friendship rather than admit she is looking to this person to fill a need that only God and her husband are meant to fill.
They decided to set the story against the backdrop of Michelle’s hometown of Corona, California in 1916 and the real-life Corona Road Race that took place in April of that year. It was the third race and, due to tragedy, the last.
From concept to “The End,” it took a span of about four years for Michelle and April to publish Better than Fiction, and as far as teamwork goes, it went off without a hitch. April was able to fly from her home in Georgia to stay with Michelle’s family and do research, and later, Michelle flew to Georgia for a concentrated writing weekend. The two had an amazingly fun time writing and working together.
Another question the authors get…will there be a sequel? Only time will tell.
I have really enjoyed this book and how two authors worked together to write stories that intertwined with ease. Meghan has a dream to become an author and get published. She tirelessly works on her manuscript in her spare time. Meghan becomes disappointed that her husband Steve doesn't seem to be supporting her. I could easily see how Meghan started to feel lonely in her marriage. The enemy finds anyway he can to put doubt in your mind and cause you to start questioning trust. I liked how the author introduced Curtis in the story who became someone Meghan started to find interesting. I knew danger was waiting around the corner as Meghan seemed to be drawn to him.
The other part of the story is set in 1916 and lets us have a front row seat in Corona, California. Winnie works hard at her family's mechanic shop. It was very uncommon to see a woman as a mechanic in those days, but she sure could do circles around anyone when it came to fixing cars. Russell needs someone like Winnie to help him get his car ready for the race. They don't exactly get off to a good start. Winnie is strong willed and doesn't back down from threats. Someone is trying to sabotage her shop and cause bodily harm to her. I did like the slow pace of their relationship as we discover the loss Winnie and her family has suffered.
The authors have done such a great job of tying both stories together that I had a hard time not jumping ahead to see what happens. The concept of a person writing a story and we see the characters come to life is worth praise. Meghan sets her story in 1916, and we get to join her as she writes about Winnie and Russell. Both women are similar in the fact that they have low self esteem and always seem to think nothing good will ever happen to them. They both want someone to love them and notice them. They both work hard at their dreams but lack the ability to believe in themselves.
The lessons in the story are powerful as we see a marriage start to crumble and temptation seep in. Instead of communicating with her husband, Meghan jumps to conclusions . I didn't like where she was headed emotionally , but liked getting to see her turn to God for help. Winnie finds herself in danger and Russell could be the answer to her prayers.
I won't say what happens to these two couples, but I will say that both authors give us a look into trusting God, believing in yourself and being reminded that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Communication is key in any relationship and it will be a lesson both women will experience. I thought the book was very well written and hope the authors' team up again and write a book together.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate their tour, April and Michelle are giving away the grand prize bundle of a $20 Amazon gift card, themed mug and bookmarks, and handmade throw pillow that says, “Books, my happy place”!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.