Throughout the year I like to read books that feature love stories, but there is something satisfying about reading a romance in the summer time. Maybe it is the warm nights and sunny days that turn one's thoughts to smooching. Or perhaps it is the humidity that turns a reader to steamy books. Whatever the case, I have read a fair number of romantic tales since June. Four in particular:
1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell for which I patiently waited and was not disappointed.
2. For Once in My Life by Marianne Kavanagh which was sweet and a tad predictable.
3. Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenhoff, a YA romance with an interesting twist.
4. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti another YA, without much to recommend it.
I have loved everything by Rainbow Rowell, her previous adult novel Attachments and Eleanor and Park as well as Fangirl. As I have said previously, Rowell is a master of the slow lead up to the first kiss, or the bells and swelling of the heart that indicate a character is in love. She captures those unsure moments before both parties are able to acknowledge they are in love. Landline however is a bit different. While there is some flashback to the beginning of the romance, this story is really about a relationship falling apart, and the desperation to fix it, aided by a magic telephone. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but Rowell is talented enough to make it believable without asking for suspension of disbelief beyond tolerance. I enjoyed the story, though I did root for the wrong outcome for a bit, but that's just the cynic in me...I knew how it would turn out in the end.
As far as I know, For Once in My Life is the first novel from Kavanagh. While the eventual end was predictable, the getting there was more convoluted and unexpected than I would have thought at first...teaches me a thing or two about assumptions. Tess and George's romance is not the usual summer romance fodder, which is the main reason I enjoyed it. I am not against a predictable romance so long as it is well-written and the twists and turns toward the happy ending let me live vicariously in their world for a time. I am also a sucker for a story set in London.
Guy in Real Life is a YA romance that truly surprised me. Lesh is a metal head who falls for a lovely dungeon master named Svetlana. They are an unlikely pair in their high school world, but there are any number of stories of star-crossed teen lovers. What made this story interesting is Lesh's foray into a massive multi-player on-line role playing game in which he becomes Svetlana, asking the question: Does Lesh want to be with her, or does he want to be her? Brezenoff simply touches this question lightly, but his dip into questions of gender roles without it being the focus of the story adds a layer of interest I found myself thinking about well after finishing the story. I will be looking for what Brezenhoff does next.
In So Much Closer, Brooke moves to NYC, ostensibly to live with her estranged father, but really to be with the boy she knows she should be with. Brooke is annoying; Scott, the boy she follows is shallow, despite Colastani's weak attempt to give him depth; and the issues of leaving home, parental relationships, and finding oneself are left without a real look. I think the story had potential, as can be seen in the two characters who save the tale: Sadie and John. I will probably not read anything else from this author, but perhaps later books are better.