Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Review by Jan:

I did the unthinkable with this book.  Believe it or not, I read the second book in a series before reading the first.  Christmas Eve In Friday Harbor is the first book in Lisa Kleypas' Friday Harbor series, and well... it wasn't Christmas time when I was in the mood for a Kleypas book, so I took a little step on the wild side and skipped right to the second book. 

When winter rolls around again I will read the first.

I did not feel like I missed anything, so I will say this series can be read out of order, if you're like me and don't like reading a book with a Christmas setting when it's almost summer.  :o)

Rainshadow Road is a contemporary romance with a little magic realism thrown in.  If you like books by Janet Chapman and Sarah Addison Allen, I would say give this one a try.  It is set in a quaint community with family and relationship issues a strong element of the storyline.

Lucy is a glass artist who lives in a quaint coastal town of Friday Harbor, Washington.  Lucy's younger sister, Alice, almost died as a child.  As a result, their parents made allowance for the younger Alice's misbehavior while expecting Lucy to understand.  The balance of sister equality was shattered, and, as always in this type of situation, bitterness overshadowed the sister's relationship.  As adults, their relationship worsens when Lucy learns that her fiance is leaving her for Alice.  Kevin had been having an affair with her younger sister for months.  Worse, Lucy is living with Kevin and is asked to move out so Alice can move in.

For the first time, Lucy's parent's do not defend the younger sister's actions.  Never having been looked down upon, Alice has a difficult time with her parents disapproval.  She convinces Kevin to set Lucy up on a date, knowing her parents will have an easier time accepting the new situation if Lucy is happy.

Sam Noland is the convenient friend used for Alice and Kevin's scheme.  Sam, thankfully, happens to have more honor than Kevin.  He immediately informs Lucy of Kevin's plan.  Meanwhile, Lucy has a bicycle accident and Sam feels obligated to care for her, and a distasteful arrangement soon becomes a real friendship that develops into love.  Sam is a traditional romantic hero with a troubled past that is very difficult not to like.  He and his brothers were raised by alcoholic parents, and have emotional issues as a result.  In addition, their sister passed away in an accident a year earlier and the brother's are all helping to raise their niece.

I enjoyed this book, but then I love all books by Lisa Klepas.  She has a smooth writing style and lovely characters.  The magic realism was a bit of a twist.  During times of extreme emotion, if Lucy is holding a piece of glass, it will turn into various assortment of birds or butterflies, while Sam has a deep connection to nature.  I read fantasy, so a little magic realism doesn't bother me in a contemporary read, which is why I also adore all books by Sarah Addison Allen. 

Okay, now I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent here about the romance genre.  I read several reviews on this book that complained about its predictability.  When I pick up a romance, it is that exact predictability that I'm looking for, much like walking through the same garden but in different seasons.  Whether the flowers are blooming, leaves are falling, or snow covers branches---the path always leads back home.  If I'm looking for surprises and angst, I read a different genre.  If I'm looking for mindless escapism with a happy ending, I read romance.  Rainshadow Road was everything I want in a romance and I have already ordered the rest of the books in the series for the library.  My only uncomfortable moment in this book was the whole concept of the sister and ex-fiance setting Lucy up on a date, but Kleypas fixed it by having Sam be immediately forthcoming about the whole thing.  Honesty is so refreshing to read in a book, isn't it?

I give this book a straight Red Chili Pepper rating.
(chili pepper rating explained)

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas
Book 1 - Christmas Eve In Friday Harbor -  request
Book 2 - Rainshadow Road -  request
Book 3 - Dream Lake - request
Book 4 - Crystal Cove - (on order for Feb. 2013)

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