Posts filed under ‘Romance’

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Pub Date: April 2004

Fiction (Adult)

486 pgs.

Bibliophiles, rejoice! If you’re unfamiliar with  Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, and you’re looking for the next book to get wrapped up in, look no further.  Ruiz’s thoughtful, well-plotted novel encompasses adventure, romance, and a mystery that literally unfolds in the middle of a vast landscape of books.

When he is a small boy, Daniel Sempere’s widowed father takes his only child to a mysterious “cemetery of forgotten books,” located behind a storefront in 1950s Barcelona.  Daniel is instructed to choose a title from the voluminous stacks.  The title he chooses will stay with him for the rest of his life, Daniel’s father tells him.  And it does…in an unexpected way.

Soon, Daniel’s life is consumed by his chosen book, called The Shadow of the Wind, and by its mysterious author, a man called Julian Carax.  Daniel makes it one of his life’s missions to track down more work by Carax, but he finds the titles being systematically destroyed, by an individual who has named himself after the villain in Carax’s own book.

What follows is a delicious journey into the heart of Carax’s novel.  Accompanied by a new love and a boisterous sidekick, the reader follows Daniel as he comes of age in mid-century Barcelona, and explores the mystery of Julian Carax.  The Shadow of the Wind benefits most from Ruiz’s ability to invoke a strong sense of place in the sultry, misty Spanish streets, memorable characters, and at its core, a deep love of the printed word.  This would not be my first choice to read on a Kindle–but if you have a couch, a mug of something hot and delicious, and a free weekend, The Shadow of the Wind is the perfect companion.

-Becky

March 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm 1 comment

Featured Genre Friday: Romance

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips / Pub Date: Feb 2007 / 400 pgs.

Blue Bailey is your typical feisty, self-sufficient tomboy heroine.   She is walking down the road–dirty, frustrated, and in a beaver costume–when she encounters Dean Robillard, star quarterback for the Chicago Stars.  Blue is a classic rootless drifter: an artist taking on odd jobs (hence the beaver costume), on her way to tell off an ex-boyfriend who has done her wrong.  She is certainly not the type of woman to fall for Dean, but Dean is not used to having women ignore him and sure enough, they are soon driving down the highway in Dean’s shiny Aston Martin, on the way to his summer home in Tennessee, bantering all the way.  Phillips fleshes her story out well with interesting characters embroiled in a family-saga subplot (including two aging rockers embarking on a romance of their own, and a sweetly misunderstood eleven-year-old girl).  This book is listed as part of the “Chicago Stars” series, but non-football-loving readers, never fear: there is almost no mention of the game (and also, the books in this “series” can be read in any order.) Phillips’ multifaceted work is a good choice for fans of Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Crusie, and Rachel Gibson.

Flirting with Pete by Barbara Delinsky / Pub Date: June 2003 / 368 pgs.

Delinsky, a seasoned women’s fiction author, offers intriguing romantic suspense in this family saga. Bostonian Casey Ellis is in her early thirties, happily unmarried, and a successful psychologist.  However, her mother has been in a coma for the past three years, and Casey has never officially met her father, renowned psychologist Cornelius (Connie) Unger (although she had followed his career and became a psychologist because of him).  When he dies suddenly, Connie leaves Casey his Beacon Hill townhouse, much to Casey’s surprise.  While sorting through the house, Casey discovers a manuscript–titled “Flirting with Pete”–that could be a journal, a novel, or a case study of one of her father’s clients.  As Casey begins to read through the journal, she is drawn into the story of abused, small-town girl Jenny, who makes plans to run away with her handsome, perfect new boyfriend Pete.  The story unfolding in “Flirting With Pete” begins entwining with Casey’s new life on Beacon Hill, not to mention her new relationships with her sexy, mysterious gardener, Jordan, and young, eager-to-please new housekeeper, Meg.  Delinsky is a more old-fashioned writer than Susan Elizabeth Phillips; the actual romance takes a while to heat up, and her story veers toward melodrama in parts.  Once the romance gets going, however, true fans of the genre will enjoy the steamy relationship between Casey and Jordan (and between Jenny and Pete). Likewise, women’s fiction fans will enjoy the realistically strong character of Casey, who has quite a lot to do in the novel on her own before any romance gets involved.

Other Suggestions:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon / Pub Date: June 1991 / 600 pgs.

This classic time-traveling romance by Gabaldon, set in Scotland, is the first of a vast series of books – a true saga.  Don’t let the length of the book scare you–you’ll be finished before you know it, and eager to grab the next. From Publisher’s Weekly: “English nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall and husband Frank take a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands in 1945. When Claire walks through a cleft stone in an ancient henge, she’s somehow transported to 1743. She encounters Frank’s evil ancestor, British captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, and is adopted by another clan. Claire nurses young soldier James Fraser, a gallant, merry redhead, and the two begin a romance, seeing each other through many perilous, swashbuckling adventures involving Black Jack. Scenes of the Highlanders’ daily life blend poignant emotions with Scottish wit and humor.”

In The Garden trilogy by Nora Roberts / Pub Date:  first installment Oct. 2004

From Novelist:  “Nora Roberts remains the benchmark for the Romance genre. Whether writing Contemporary, Paranormal, or Futuristic Police Procedurals, she satisfies with her classy heroines, strong and sexy heroes, interesting background details, and strong extended family relationships. Her storytelling skills make her a popular choice with a wide range of readers. Her recent In the Garden trilogy combines strong love stories and ghosts.”

April 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment


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