By now you all know that I'm a Lisa Kleypas nut. When it comes to complex characters, I've yet to find a historical romance author that compares.
And so after mowing through her entire body of historical romance work, I turned to her contemporary. After reading Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (the novella that intro's this series) I decided to pick up Rainshadow Road.
Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.
What I loved:
The characters. Kleypas has a knack for unique characters with good voicing, and this doesn't disappoint.
I also loved the overall feel of the book. As with all her work, the pace is deliciously slow, allowing the reader to sink into the story. Too, the protag, Lucy, is strong, independent, and wonderful. And, of course, our main guy is definitely swoon worthy.
One of my biggest pinch points with contemporary romance is the "no big deal" aspect of the physical relationship itself. I hate that most authors portray intimacy with the same importance as going to the gym or a really good cardio class. Kleypas is different. Even though all parties involved have had previous experiences and multiple partners, she still is able to convey an emotional attachment reminiscent of her historical writing.
What I didn't love:
I hate spoilers, and so I won't give anything away, but I was excited early on in the book to find a paranormal twist. What was disappointing is that it never was explored or explained. It was just like ... oh, there it is ... now let's just accept it and move on, shall we? Either commit to it or don't put it in at all.
If St. Martin's Griffin would have cut it out completely it wouldn't have made a difference between the characters. This led me to wonder if that part of the story was possibly put in as an afterthought. Paranormals are selling like hot cakes. Why not try and branch out into a new genre?
Also, while the male lead is definitely swoon worthy, this book in not nearly has steamy as her romance books. I know, I know, after writing well over thirty books, Kleypas may be growing tired of the physical action/reaction descriptors that goes along with relationship writing. I understand that ... I just wish it would have been as well done as the Wallflower series, which has ruined me for any other historical book ... ever!
Overall, I loved the writing but the story could you a little tweaking.