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Jessica Barksdale Inclán's debut novel Her Daughter's Eyes, published in 2001, was the premier novel published under New American Library's new imprint Accent. Her Daughter's Eyes was a final nominee for the YALSA Award for the best books of 2001 and best paperbacks for 2001 and has been published in both Dutch and Spanish. Her next novel The Matter of Grace was published in May 2002. Her third, When You Go Away, came out April 1, 2003. Her fourth, One Small Thing, was published April 2004, and was translated into in Dutch and Spanish. Walking With Her Daughter, was published in April 2005, and her sixth, The Instant When Everything is Perfect in February 2006. Starting in June 2006, she published the first in a trilogy from Kensington Books, When You Believe. Reason to Believe, and Believe in Me. Her next trilogy began with Being With Him and Intimate Beings. The final book in the trilogy--The Beautiful Being--came out in October 2010. She is a 2002 recipient of the CAC Artist’s Fellowship in Literature. Inclán teaches composition, creative writing, mythology, and women’s literature at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and on-line and on-land creative writing courses for UCLA extension. She has studied with Sharon Olds, Anne Lamott, Kate Braverman, Grace Paley, Marjorie Sandor, and Cristina Garcia. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Rockhurst Review, Hotwired, The Salt Hill Journal, Free Lunch, The West Wind Review, The Prairie Star, Gargoyle and many other journals and newspapers. Her short story Open Eyes was given first prize by Sandra Cisneros for El Andar magazine's 2000 writing contest. She co-edited a women’s literature/studies textbook Diverse Voices of Women (Mayfield Publishing, 1995). Ms. Inclán has degrees in sociology and English literature from CSU Stanislaus and a Master’s degree in English literature from SFSU. Ms. Inclán lives in Oakland, California and is currently at work on a contemporary novel and a book of essays and another romance.
on Feb. 13, 2011 :
Jessica Barksdale Inclan is a romance novelist with a dozen traditionally published books, including the Being and Believe trilogies. Along with her success with traditional publishing houses, Inclan has chosen to explore self publishing and has plans to release a selection of new and backlist works in electronic format.
The Only Thing I See is a contemporary story of complicated relationships. Annabelle Cousins can't seem to find the passion she once had for her career as a wedding photographer. As she looks through her lens she is suddenly seeing more than she expects. Instead of bringing clarity to her life, Annabelle finds her heightened sense are clouding her judgement. She is taken by suprise when her fiance leaves, and confused by her attraction to a groom to be. Her carefully planned life is crumbling around her.
Despite the veneer of romance, this novel is focused on exploring Annabelle's journey towards emotional maturity. I found Annabelle to have a passive nature that highlights her poor self esteem. Self pity is rarely an attractive trait in a romantic heroine yet Annabelle does attract sympathy as she struggles with finding her way towards fulfillment. Most women can empathise with the devastation after the break up of a long term relationship, no matter how appropriate the decision. Inclan captures her hurt, confusion and eventual acceptance deftly.
The romantic relationship is complicated by an obvious obstacle that would usually preclude a developing relationship. I felt sorry for Nadine even while accepting the idea that her relationship with Robert was not meant to be. Inclan has very carefully navigated the path it takes but it's a difficult task and I wasn't wholly convinced. The circumstances don't inspire confidence in the traditional HEA ending yet I was left with the hope that Annabelle would find happiness.
The source of Annabelle's intuition is never fully resolved. Inclan leaves it to the reader to interpret with a deliberate sense of mystery. This thread, and the tarot readings, underscore the idea of fate and destiny and its inevitability that is a major theme in the novel.
A quick and satisying read, The Only Thing I See is a thoughtful story that examines complicated relationships in modern times with original elements and likeable characters.
Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 12, 2011 :
Annabelle is a wedding photographer. She has a talent for capturing other people's happiness, but has trouble recognizing her own. When she herself becomes engaged, she starts "seeing" the future happiness (or unhappiness) of the lovestruck couples she photographs. The only problem is, she can't seem to see the truth in the relationship right in front of her. With the unintentional nudges of her best friend and her quirky mom, Annabelle finds herself taking a philosophical journey she just wasn't quite ready to take. She can't see herself through her camera lens, but perhaps she can see finally herself through the reflection of the two people who mean the most to her.
I really had fun with this tale by Jessica Barksdale Inclan, devouring it in short order. The characters of Annabelle, her best friend (Khalie), and her mother (Ramona) are all well-developed and quite engaging. Easy to read and utterly charming, it's effortless to become absorbed in this tale of emotional growth overlaid in romantic tones. Although the ending is predictable, it's still satisfying as you wait for Annabelle to finally realize what you've known the whole time. It's a feel-good tale that will leave you with a happy sigh, content that things are right with the world.
There were a few more than a handful of typos in the story- not super distracting, but still noticeable. The storyline flows along fairly smoothly; there are a few bumps for Annabelle along the way, but not really that "gasp" moment present in some books of this genre. I may have preferred a bit more conflict along the way to make that neatly tied-up ending even sweeter. I sometimes prefer a bit of ambiguity in an ending, even for a storyline meant to leave you feeling happy and satisfied. Overall, a great read, one that fans of this genre will devour.
@ MotherLode blog
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Dec. 19, 2010 :
WOW!! What an awesome book. I couldn't put this one down and ended up reading this one in one night! I do not often read in bed for hours but this one is so well written and made me want to finish it on that night. This is ebook is a must buy if you are into women's fiction.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)