Friday, April 6, 2012

Rainshadow Road, by Lisa Kleypas

I was hoping to break my review writing hiatus with something wonderful. And while Lisa Kleypas' newest foray into contemporary romance held a lot of promise, it fell just a tad short, not for what it didn't have, but for what it did.

The Friday Harbor series starts with the story of Mark Nolan, his niece Holly and his love interest Maggie, in the short story, Christmas at Friday Harbor. What I consider the second novel in the series, Rainshadow Road, is the story of Mark's younger brother, vineyard owner Sam, and Lucy Marinn, a local stained glass  artist. Lucy grows up with a sister who, having survived meningitis, is handed everything on a silver platter. Lucy is left with resentment and an inferiority complex. There are also hints of a special magical talent she has for turning glass into living objects. For me, the "jump the shark" moment comes early in this novel, and I tried very hard to get past it. There are more examples of these magical powers later on, and each time it happens, it just strikes a discordant tone in my head. But back to the story. When Kevin, Lucy's boyfriend of two years,  finds a new love in Lucy's aforementioned sister, Lucy swears off commitment to protect herself from hurt. 

Sam Nolan grows up as a child of alcoholic parents, and finds it easier to protect himself from hurt by running away from commitment. He too, seems to have some powers; plants turn green and flourish when he's around. His special talent, in my mind, also detracts from the story at times, but not as much as Lucy's. He meets Lucy after her break-up and we sense that something is possible between these two, but wonder if past experience with bad relationships and poor examples of parenthood are enough to keep them apart. Lucy decides to take the relationship at face value and to just have fun. But as we all know in a romance novel, that approach never quite works out as planned. 

I think Ms. Kleypas should have left well enough alone, to be honest. This could be a terrific love story, filled with wonderful characters and enough interesting familial situations that  should  carry the novel. No need, in my opinion, to throw "magic" into the mix. I believe this is worth a read, because after all, Lisa is the author of the Wallflower Series, some of my favorite books in the romance genre. As those prove (and without all the hocus pocus mind you) falling in love is magic enough.

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