OK, time to finally finish the review that I started writing on Saturday afternoon.
First off, a small bit of commentary:
What do you think of Reaching New Heights: The Viktor Krum Story? Itís got a certain ring to it, donít you think? - Come on, Rose! That's so cliche!
It was nice to see Viktor actually get serious about something. You didn't drop it on me right away, but as the chapter progressed, it became really obvious that this was huge for Viktor. He finally puts the childish "ice man" posturing aside and lets Rose see that the hearing, and maintaining his freedom, was important to him. That the possibility of losing his case bothered him, frightened him, even. It helped to humanize him quite a bit.
The man in the suit was... I think unnerving is really the best way to put it. I didn't really feel like Rose was threatened. He didn't seem creepy in the stalker sense of the term. The game he's playing seems to be a lot more personal and a bit more cerebral. All of Rose's head games with Viktor seem to be paying off, because she seems to know exactly how to put this guy in his place. Naturally, I'm really curious what was inside the envelope, but the way you ended their encounter really built up a sense of mystery. And I loved this line:
The man was making a good show of looking nervous, as if he really was offering her something he ought not to have been sharing. But Rose wasn't buying it. There was a hint of something akin to glee in his eyes, as if this was all some sort of game for which he would soon be declared the winner.
I thought that did a brilliant job of making it clear what this guy was really all about. There's something really off about him, and he's convinced that he can manipulate her if he dangles the right bait in front of her. To Rose's credit, she just pushes him away.
Rose was so consumed with this one terrible possibility that she almost missed the sound of the front door swinging open. Before she even had the chance to ask what happened, Viktor crossed over to her, scooping her up in his arms, burying his face in her hair. - I really love the visual here. So much vulnerability on his part.
And then... he starts to talk about the future and Rose freaks out. This was a really awesome gender role reversal. And you couldn't have sprung it on two more unlikely characters, which made it even better for me. Rose: the archetypal female character who's been alternating between a girlish infatuation with the man and mothering him through all of his troubles. Viktor: the stone-faced alpha male who mostly shows her flashes of emotion when he wants to reel her in and seduce her. And in an instant, it's all flipped on its head. She'd the one panicking at the idea of commitment and he's sitting there confused about where the train came off the rails. Very nicely done!
Heart is just plain creepy in this chapter. Funny to think that he came off as sort of a twisted father figure way back at the beginning of the story. Not even the most twisted father imaginable wants his daughter to drum up business like this. What a weirdo!
Then she gets the family one-two punch in the form of Hugo and Al. Hugo sets the pins up and Al knocks them down, I thought. Hugo starts off by reminding Rose that this situation really is all about her. What she wants and the trade-offs that she's willing to make. And everybody else will either deal with it or they won't.
Al was the master stroke. And you did it in a really unconventional way. He comes along and shows her everything about her relationship with Krum that's wrong and right, all at the same time, if that makes a lick of sense. The infatuation, the lost weeks and the fact that she's basically forgotten Al's wedding are all symptomatic of just how much of an effect this relationship have had on her. This line really hit home for me:
She'd hardly given his upcoming nuptials or the fact that he was only months away from becoming a father more than a passing thought for weeks. Al was right. When had she become so self-involved?
And yet Al isn't there to yell at her or be angry or offended. He gets it. And eventually Rose gets it, too.
The final revelations that hit Rose as she's lying in bed were the icing on the cake for this thoroughly brilliant chapter. I said earlier that this chapter was huge for Viktor, but even that pales, I think, compared to how huge it was for Rose. It finally dawns on her why she's gone through so much for him. Why she's put her career and her relationship with her family at risk. Why she wants to help him so much. And it coincidentally happens to be the same thing that terrifies her so much that she had to run away from him. I loved this paragraph like few other things you've written in this story:
So there was her sad little truth. Viktor might be the addict, the one who couldn't get his act together. The one with a string of failed relationships and more demons than he seemed able to handle. But she was the pathetic one. The one who was scared of commitment, of jumping in with both feet. Of ending up with a stupid grin on her face. Scared of falling in love.
Her whole speech to half-awake Viktor was awesome. You can feel her convincing herself, item by item, reason by reason, that the things that should keep her and Viktor apart just aren't enough to overcome what she feels for him. It was like watching something roll downhill. And this line made me laugh out loud:
The very thought of you and I together makes my father want to kill himself - or kill you. - Truer words have rarely been spoken...
One typo only: ďI hate to break it to you, but you love life isn't really my top concern at the moment. - your love life.
I think I'm about out of characters, so I'll end with a single word: amazing!
Author's Response: I'm so glad this chapter humanized Krum for you a bit. I tried really hard to keep him a grey-area character, but if the reader doesn't like him enough to at least vacillate on the idea of him being a good match for Rose, the story doesn't really hold up well.
Looking back, I don't think I developed TMitS plotline as well as I should have, but I'm happy he gave off a creepy vibe here. He isn't a physical threat to Rose, but he's unhinged enough to still be a danger. I'm glad that line stood out. Now that you know the ending, you know his hatred has been eating at him for a long time. He's enjoying the idea of causing Viktor and anyone who cares for him pain.
Swapping the roles here was fun, but hopefully didn't seem too OOC for either of them...? I always pictured Rose as falling for Krum a bit because a part of her really didn't believe the relationship could go anywhere, and I see Krum as someone who actually likes being in a relationship, despite being unable to maintain them -- hence all the marriages. But only now does a real long-term relationship seem feasible to either of them so those true underlying feelings come out.
Haha! I didn't mean for Heart to come off that creepy here. My bad!!
I tried really, really hard to teach Rose a lesson here without feeling like I was lecturing to the reader. Al really didn't go there to teach her anything. He wants to make sure she's okay and maybe nudge her along, but just by being himself, he holds a mirror up for her, letting her draw her own conclusions.
Awww, I'm so glad you liked that paragraph. Internal monologues scare me like nothing else I write, so that it was one of your favorites of the story makes me happy to no end.
The end scene was meant to be Rose's belated freak-out to all the crap life has thrown her way the past few months. If Rose were real, she'd be an idiot if she hadn't thought all these things at one point or another. I thought this might be a fun way to acknowledge to the reader she had, in fact, considered all these things. Plus I wanted to make sure it was clear Rose was willingly making the choice to say to hell with it all. She wasn't being tricked or lulled or dragged into it by Krum.
lol, I love Ron as a dad. I couldn't resist.
Thank you for such an awesome review! Seriously, it was such an amazing treat to read and respond to.