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Monday, October 30, 2017

It's All About Romance

Reprinted from auburnpub.com:

This month’s Book Report is the Romance Rundown, featuring four books from the genre that caught my attention.

First up is Eloisa James’ historical romance, “Wilde In Love”, the first in her new “Wildes of Lindow Castle” series. We meet Lord Alaric Wilde, who has returned home to his family’s castle near London in 1778 from his adventures abroad. Alaric’s books about his travels have made him famous, and his adventures with pirates and cannibals inspired a long-running play about the handsome man, which embarrasses him to no end. 

Alaric becomes enchanted by Willa Ffynche, who seems to the be the only woman in England who has not fallen madly in love with him. Willa prefers reading to adventures, but she soon finds herself thrown together with Alaric, who sets his cap for Willa.

James’ novel is the most explicit of the group, and she certainly knows how to give her readers what they want. Willa is a fantastic character, and she and Alaric make a great team as they banter back and forth.

It’s been awhile since I have read an historical romance, but I enjoyed “Wilde in Love” so much, I will be picking more of the many books James has written. She writes smart dialogue and keeps her readers wanting more.

Moving into the early 20th century, after WWI, is Lauren Willig’s “The Other Daughter”. Also set in England, Rachel is a young governess working in France when she gets word that her mother is seriously ill. She arrives too late, and discovers a newspaper clipping that the father she believed died when she was a toddler, is in fact alive and has another family.

Rachel decides to go to London to confront him. Her father is an English lord, and to get close to him she becomes involved with Simon, a Page Six-like gossip reporter who has his own reasons for helping Rachel. 

Rachel pretends to be a socialite who has been abroad. Simon introduces her to her half-sister’s group of friends, and her sister’s fiancee, an up-and-coming politician. As Rachel gets closer to meeting her father, things are not quite as they seemed.

Willig excels at writing dialogue between Rachel and Simon. Their scenes crackle with tension, wit and emotion, and in the Acknowledgments section, Willig states that this is the first single-narrative, single-viewpoint novel she has written. She succeeds beautifully here, and “The Other Daughter” has not only romance, but family drama and a few twists that will surprise you. If you liked “Downton Abbey”, this one is for you.

“Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery” is the third in a planned trilogy by Jenny Colgan. Polly owns a popular small bakery on Mount Polbeane in Cornwall, on the southern coast of England. She lives in a lighthouse with her boyfriend Huckle, a beekeeper, and Neil, a puffin bird who goes everywhere with them. 

Polly was raised by her single mother, and never met her father. When Polly’s best friend Kerensa does something regrettable, it causes problems between Polly and Huckle. The characters in the town are so interesting, especially Kerensa’s husband Reuben, a multimillionaire who is pushy and obnoxious and totally in love with his wife.

The plot revolves around Christmas, when a snowstorm hits the area and Polly works to keep everything from falling apart. It’s funny and sweet, and has some terrific recipes as well. You’ll be craving croissants and hot chocolate after reading this one.

If you are a fan of the Hallmark Channel, you may be familiar with the Chesapeake Shores series, based on Sherryl Woods’ series of novels. Her latest, “Lilac Lane” continues the story of the O’Brien clan of Chesapeake Shores in Maryland. 

Moira O’Brien brings her mother Kiera over from Ireland after Kiera’s fiancee dies suddenly. Kiera works as a consultant for her son-in-law Kevin’s authentic Irish pub and meets Bryan, the chef at the restaurant.

Bryan bristles at Kiera’s suggestions, and although they get along like oil and water, the matchmaking O’Brien clan (led by matriarch Nell and her son Mick) decide these two need to be together.

There is also a young woman looking for her birth father (disappearing fathers seem to be a theme here today), but again, things are always more complicated than at first glance.

“Lilac Lane” is a wonderful read for anyone who enjoys stories about big families, especially Irish families. The O’Brien clan feel like your own family, who you love and drive you crazy all at once.

Wilde in Love” by Eloisa James- A
Published by Avon
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99

“The Other Daughter” by Lauren Willig- A-
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Trade paperback, $15.99

Published by William Morrow
Trade paperback, $14.99

“Lilac Lane” by Sherryl Woods- A
Published by MiraBooks

Hardcover, $26.99

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