Confession time! I do not like Ms. Kleypas’ historicals. I don’t know why, but they just don’t work for me. However, her contemporary romances are some of my favorite books in the world, so I couldn't be happier right now because we’re getting not one, but two new contemporary novels this year.
Rainshadow Road is the newest book in her Friday Harbor series about three brothers trying to raise their orphaned niece (more like one brother raises her, one helps and the other drinks). The heroine’s name is Lucy Marinn. When she was little, her baby sister, Alice, got meningitis and ever since then their parents became very permissive with her. While Lucy was asked to behave and reprimanded when necessary, Alice could do no wrong, she was never grounded and always got what she wanted. Flash forward to the present and what Alice wants is Lucy’s fiancé, Kevin. So when Kevin ends their engagement and asks Lucy to move out of their home so that Alice can move in, Lucy is devastated but not surprised.
Lucy and Alice’s parents are not happy about the whole mess and don’t want to pay for the wedding. Kevin, thinking that if they see Lucy happy they will reconsider, asks an old business acquaintance to seduce Lucy as a favor to him. Said acquaintance turns out to be Sam Nolan, one of the brothers I mentioned above (the one who helps) and hero of the story. What Kevin doesn’t know is that Sam has already met Lucy and it’s quite smitten with her. So their actual courtship has nothing to do with this attempted-deception, and all to do with Sam being a commitment-phobe and Lucy wanting to heal and to stay away from guys like Kevin and, well, Sam.
This is a very sweet contemporary romance. In fact, it’s everything I love about contemporary romances: boy meets girl, girl is weary of boy, boy is weary of love, boy and girl overcome their issues and live happily ever after. There’s an obvious external conflict, in this case Alice and Kevin, but the real obstacle resides within the main characters, and how they deal with it in order to have a normal and healthy relationship.
I have mentioned before how I hate heroines who embark in no-strings-attached sex when all they want is go steady, and this book flirted a bit with that, but Ms. Keyplas knows what she’s doing and gives us a heroine who actually knows herself and avoids mistakes like that. Lucy is weary of guys like Sam, is aware of how appealing he is and how much he can hurt her, because he obviously doesn’t want a serious relationship, so she tries to stay away from him. She doesn’t succeed, but when things get ugly, she admits that she is in part to blame for her own heartbreak. I liked her very much and I think you will too.
Sam was a nerd wrapped in a hunky package. Nothing new there, but he was a swoon worthy hero and I loved how honest and caring he was. One would think that the whole business with Kevin would lead to the big misunderstanding, but the reality couldn’t be farther from that. In fact, how he handled that part was my favorite thing about him.
This book has a slight WTF element, because there’s a bit of magic in it, as in contemporary romance with a paranormal touch. I don’t mind paranormal touches in books, but I do when they come out of left field. This is book two in a series, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was shorter than Rainshadow Road, and came out more than a year ago, but it is book one in the series. That book had nothing paranormal about it, not even a clue about what was to come. So why do this now? It’s confusing and will alienate some readers. Having said that, I thought the paranormal aspect was cute, it didn’t add anything to the plot and I’m still wondering why it was there, but it didn’t ruin the book for me.
Overall this is a sweet contemporary romance that I’m sure fans of the genre will enjoy. There’s nothing special about it besides wonderful characters and a lovey romance, but despite the surprising addition of the paranormal element I’m dying to read the next book (about the brother who drinks), ghosts and all.
Review by Brie
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.
St. Martin’s Griffin. February 28, 2012.