While this blog is ostensibly the “romance” blog, I think of it more as the “romantic fiction” blog, since I read a lot of women’s fiction with high romantic elements as well as traditional romance novels.
This week, we’re going to focus on some really lovely mainstream fiction with very satisfying romantic arcs!
Catherine Isaac’s YOU ME EVERYTHING has seen some great traction from readers on my FB feed, so I decided I had to pick it up. So glad I did. Kirkus calls it “A witty, light romance from a welcome new voice,” (full review here) and while I’d say it’s a bit more complex than a traditional romance, I do agree that it’s quite witty and Isaac has a light voice that works beautifully in this lovely novel that deals with some heavy concepts in a breezy yet still substantial way. There’s humor, complex relationships and complicated ‘adulting’—all circling one woman’s quest to revisit her son’s relationship with his father, shadowed by a heath issue she’s been ignoring for too long. I was quite impressed with this newcomer author and highly recommend the book, which deals with unexpected plot twists in surprising ways.
Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend—and William’s father—Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Lush gardens, a gorgeous pool, delectable French food, and a seemingly never-ending wine list—what’s not to like? Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam fall in love with his own son.
But Adam has other ideas, and another girlfriend—and he doesn’t seem inclined to change the habits of a lifetime just because Jess and William have appeared on the scene. Jess isn’t surprised, but William—who has quickly come to idolize his father—wants nothing more than to spend time with him. But Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down—because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody—especially William—must discover.
By turns heartwrenching and hopeful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman's fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day.
I’m not even sure where I heard about THE LIBRARY AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Felicity Hayes-McCoy but I requested it from my library and they bought the audio recently. This is another delightful read, with a middle-aged protagonist who moves back to her small Irish hometown, takes a job as the local librarian, then shifts from being prickly and isolated into becoming a reluctant but potent force in the community. Kirkus says it’s “A sweet and relaxing story about the importance of community" (full review here), and I agree. It’s a quietly powerful book, with quirky characters and a slow build, romantically and in character arcs, but I really enjoyed it.
As she drives her mobile library van between villages of Ireland’s West Coast, Hanna Casey tries not to think about a lot of things. Like the sophisticated lifestyle she abandoned after finding her English barrister husband in bed with another woman. Or that she’s back in Lissbeg, the rural Irish town she walked away from in her teens, living in the back bedroom of her overbearing mother’s retirement bungalow. Or, worse yet, her nagging fear that, as the local librarian and a prominent figure in the community, her failed marriage and ignominious return have made her a focus of gossip.
With her teenage daughter, Jazz, off traveling the world and her relationship with her own mother growing increasingly tense, Hanna is determined to reclaim her independence by restoring a derelict cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But when the threatened closure of the Lissbeg Library puts her personal plans in jeopardy, Hanna finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the Finfarran Peninsula’s fragmented community. And she’s about to discover that the neighbors she’d always kept at a distance have come to mean more to her than she ever could have imagined.
Told with heart and abundant charm, The Library at the Edge of the World is a joyous story about the meaning of home and the importance of finding a place where you truly belong.
Finally, I recently read THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END by Patti Callahan Henry. Kirkus describes it as “A quiet, atmospheric look at friendship, forgiveness, and second chances,” which describes it pretty well (full review here). Kirkus also says that “Henry creates a world that feels rich and real—readers can practically hear the rushing river, see the ocean waves, and smell the hydrangea bushes,” one reason I love this author. Her writing is lush and lyrical, but her stories almost always include an aspect that explores storytelling—how characters grow and change by the way they tell themselves their own stories. I am fascinated by this aspect of her writing and it is another reason why I am always interested in picking up her books.
PCH looks to be heading into a new direction with her next book, BECOMING MRS. LEWIS (which releases in October):
From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.
So there you are! Three books I’ve read and recommend and one I can’t wait to pick up myself.
What are your recs this week?