Last week I mentioned that Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One was at the top of my To Be Listened To list, and I managed to dive into this short story collection.

Paris for One is the novella that anchors the collection. Nell plans a weekend in Paris with her boyfriend, then nervously goes on her own when he blows her off. Meeting a waiter who’s also an aspiring writer, Nell discovers Paris and a whole new side of herself on her weekend away. All of the stories deal with a woman facing change or disillusionment, and Moyes’ engaging voice, lively imagination, and keen eye to human nature bring the stories and characters to life.

There are a number of marriages and relationships that take re-examining: a magical (without actually using magic) pair of shoes, an out-of-reach coat that winds up being on-sale and life-affirming, and a liberating Christmas cab ride that offers a new lease on life—and there’s no love story at all in that one, more a sort of metaphorical romance, a flirtation with what ifs and why nots.

Moyes is one of my favorite writers, and she has often been compared to Maeve Binchy, though I’d add Rosamunde Pilcher to that list, if we’re making one. Because, while her books generally have a romance at the heart of them—and usually, but not always, end in an HEA—they often also explore complicated or problematic issues in quiet ways, as did both Pilcher and Binchy. Moyes’ writing is routinely described as charming—which it certainly is—but somehow alongside the charm, she manages to explore the tension of light and darkness, humor and drama, and a full, bright spectrum of human aspiration and foible.

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romance_beautifulThese stories are a treat—quick, short nibbles of Moyes’ character genius, storytelling charisma, and writing grace, plus a new, intriguing format for the author, with the occasional surprising twist.

{Happy sigh.}

 I’m currently smack dab in the middle of Beautiful by Christina Lauren, which so far is delightful and a perfect send off to this fun, sexy series. I just love the ‘meet cute’: the heroine gets drunk on a trans-Atlantic flight and pours her heart out to the gorgeous man next to her, then discovers he’s in her best friend’s social circle and will be joining them on a two-week wine tasting tour.

Fans of the series will love the check-in with the pairings from all the Beautiful books, and will enjoy the snapshots of the couples who have kids. Pippa’s free spirit and Jensen’s strait-laced rigidity meet in the middle and form a new entity as they play the fifth and sixth wheels in the wine-tour road trip party. Overcoming their disastrous first impression, they become friends and then navigate a pretend marriage when they run into Jensen’s ex—who ripped his heart out when she left and sent him down a workaholic path to professional success and emotional isolation.

I’m guessing they wind up together. ;o)

Christina Lauren (two besties who write together, Christina & Lauren) is/are the romance “It” girls, exploding on the scene just three short years ago, with over twenty bestselling books to their name(s) to date. The duo is exploring a variety of styles and genres—their YA horror/suspense The House received a Kirkus star last year—so while fans may be sad to say good-bye to the Beautiful series, the authors rarely disappoint, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s excited to see what’s in their Work-In-Progress file. 

romance_outofcontrolFinally, have you all heard that Suzanne Brockmann is releasing a new Troubleshooters book next year? I’ve yet to read all the titles, and I’m trying to get through them before next summer, when Some Kind of Hero releases. I just finished Out of Control (Book 4), which features Ken “Wild Card” Karmody and Savannah von Hopf and an Indonesian jungle kidnapping adventure. That sounds so wild and outlandish on paper, but, as usual, she pulls it off flawlessly and with flair. Her books are so great, aren’t they?

Brockmann also just released Ready To Roll, a Troubleshooters novella and the third in a trio of stories which revolve around Izzy Zanella and his family.

Coming up, I’m hoping to get some Halloween reading in!

So what books have caught your fancy lately?

#LoveRomance #HappyReading