Friday, August 20, 2010

Photographs of Claudia by KG MacGregor

"There are always two people in every picture; the photographer and the viewer."
Ansel Adams

KG  MacGregor has been writing for several years now, and her books have garnered many awards along the way. She won the Lambda Literary Award for Women's Romance with her book, Out of Love, and has received several Golden Crown Literary Society awards as well. Her most recent work,  Photographs of Claudia (Bella Books, 2009) is her 13th novel, and one that carries on her tradition of finely crafted story telling.

 Photographs of Claudia  is first and foremost a love story, one that will move you, excite you, and have you eager to find out what will happen next. It has wonderfully drawn characters and caricatures (notably the future mother-in-law) populating its pages. In a section about the book on her web page, KG MacGregor indicates that some of the characters in this book are drawn from real life, and although it is not necessary to know this as you read, it is evident that her characters mean a lot to her.

This novel's central character is Leonora or Leo Westcott. She is an accomplished photographer who has learned her trade from her father. Although he is dead, it is clear that Leo honors him ever time she works behind the camera. One of her points of pride is that she learned the techniques of creating masterful pictures well before the age of digital photography.

Don’t be mistaken, she has developed her own skills admirably, and has plenty of work to do, but she does not have the recognition she deserves. One of the challenges she is given by her friends is to advance herself by applying to a special workshop for studio photographers. They feel she needs to put herself out there. This is a competitive process which  requires a complete portfolio of her work, and she will need to find a suitable subject.

Leo is so committed to her craft that she seemingly has no time for a relationship. She resides quite comfortably with her cat Madeline, and her days are filled with assignments.. She does have wonderful friends, who, like friends are wont to do, would like to see her happily involved with someone. However nice this might seem, the time never seems to be right for her.

Leo first encounters Claudia Galloway quite by chance, while she is on a job photographing school children. Claudia is doing an internship with Leo’s friend Sandy, and exhibits this remarkable ability to have the children under her care behave while other children don't.  This impresses Leo, but what impresses her more is Claudia herself. It is evident, as her friend Sandy is quick to point out, that  Leo has been smitten by this woman.

What follows is the story of a relationship that is cautiously and lovingly developed. Claudia appears to have  no issues with Leo’s sexuality, and, in fact seems to feel most comfortable with her and her friends, even more than her own. Their friendship/relationship develops, and soon Claudia  becomes the model Leo uses to develop her portfolio. Mind you, it is Claudia that suggest this!

One of the things that keeps Leo from pursuing Claudia is that Claudia is engaged to be married. Her fiance is particularly hateful, and obviously wants Claudia to follow him wherever he goes. However, as she and Leo become closer, it is quite evident that Claudia is struggling, not only with her pending marriage, but also with her desire to be able to be her own woman.. The good news is that it is quite evident that a major shift in self awareness is taking place within her, and rather than anguish over it, she follows her heart to find out what it is she really wants out of life.

One of the nicer qualities this book possesses is its pacing. Although our wish to have something happen between the two women accelerates as they get to know each other better, nothing really happens until the time is right. This is a love story that wants to have a happy ending, but, to the author’s credit, we’re given a few twists and turns to keep us guessing. As with any good romance, are hearts are always wanting the best to happen.

The book also deals with the photographer’s craft, emphasizing the relationship between the subject and those who will view the work once completed. It is certain that the author researched this aspect thoroughly, and you are bound to learn something new from Leo's sessions with Claudia. I know I did.

Since this is the first KG MacGregor book I’ve read, I am going to recommend you start with this one. If you find her writing and her storytelling as fine as I did, then you’re in for a treat. There are twelve books before this one, and a new one on the way. She is best know for her romances, but she has also delved into the area of suspense. No doubt they are exciting reads as well.

To learn more about this engaging author, you can go to her website

To listen to my conversation with KG
Listen to internet radio with myQmunity-Book Talk on Blog Talk Radio

Next week I will be discussing a delightful book by author Michael Thomas Ford, What We Remember (Kensington, 2009). This book won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Mystery.

Until then, happy reading

Robert Jaquay,

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