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How Romantic! …is that romance genre?! March 3, 2015

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Genre Book Discussion, Romance.
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Do you love a happy ending? (Who doesn’t?!) Well then, this list might be The One to make all your dreams come true! That’s right, we were discussion the romance genre! Romance stories are all about relationships and appeal strongly to a reader’s emotions, with everyone walking away from the experience (characters and readers alike) knowing all is right in the world. Are you ready to see the titles we discussed?

Carol: In Amazing Gracie by Sherryl Woods, Gracie McDougall has quit her hotel management job in France to flee to Seagull Point, a small town in Virginia, where she vacationed as a child. There, Gracie becomes fixated on buying an abandoned Victorian house and turning it into a Bed & Breakfast. The one problem in her way is the property manager, hunky Kevin Daniels, who doesn’t want to sell. While the two disagree on the fate of the Victorian, they can’t deny their attraction. Will they let down their guards and give love a chance, or will Kevin’s complicated and meddlesome family scare Gracie away?

Lauren: Danielle Steel’s first novel, Going Home, was published in 1973—something today’s reader will be painfully aware of in the book’s dated imaginings of love and relationships (among other things—smoking and drinking while pregnant? Apparently totally acceptable during this time. Weird to read around). Gillian Forrester is a beautiful, stylish, single mother who meets and (instantly) falls in love with wild-card Christopher Matthews. Chris has trouble staying faithful, routinely disappears without notice, and when Gillian becomes pregnant, is so dismayed at the reality that he will become a father he asks that Gillian leave San Francisco and return to New York City. Despite this, Gillian remains hopelessly in love with Chris. However, having moved herself back to New York, Gillian meets dashing Gordon Harte. And then things get complicated. I had never read anything by Danielle Steel but was curious, as I know her to be immensely popular. I choose poorly. I’ll give her another chance sometime and be sure to pick something people generally agree to be among her best.

Emma: In Pegasus by Danielle Steel, Nick discovers that his mother, who he does not remember, was half Jewish. Nick and his 2 sons leave their aristocratic life in Germany when Hitler starts persecuting Jews. Best friend Alex gives Nick a prize Lipizzaner horse and an Arabian horse in order to join the Ringling Brothers Circus once Nick and his boys arrive in the United States. What follows is their new life with the circus and the tragedy of what’s happening in Europe. A rollercoaster read.

Beth: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is new adult romance set on a college campus. The prim and proper Abby has escaped a troubled childhood to attend Eastern University with her best friend and start a new life for herself. Shortly after arriving on campus, Abby finds herself attending a floating fight club where she catches the eye of the bad boy, Travis Maddox. Abby and Travis find themselves bound to each other through a bet, the outcome of which, surprises everyone. The plot and the characters are not well developed in this predictable story.

Ann: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty is the first novel by the popular author of The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies. The novel opens at a birthday party dinner for three sisters, Lyn, Cat, and Gemma, triplets who are turning 34. Unfortunately after a few drinks the evening turns ugly, there are arguments, and an ambulance must be called. Though triplets, the women couldn’t be more different. The book takes us through the year leading up to the birthday party- as the sisters deal with sibling rivalry, relationships, unfaithful husbands, divorced parents who are acting just a little too cozy these days, and the trials and tribulations of living life as triplets. Similar themes run through all of Moriarty’s books- strong female characters, strong family ties, wonderful humor, and plots that surprise you around every turn.

Steve: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore is not your traditional romance, but that’s what makes it so great. Jody is a 26 year old living in San Francisco who wakes up in a dumpster with a scorched hand and as she is trying to figure out what happened to her, she discovers that she is a newly bitten vampire. She heads off to the local Safeway mart and meets Tommy Flood, a 19 year old aspiring writer fresh in from Indiana. Tommy is thrilled with his luck, meeting a beautiful girl upon his arrival in the city, and the two begin a quirky romance. The story is filled with odd characters, a twisted sense of humor and a mysterious vampire who seems to be trailing Jody and plotting Tommy’s demise.

Megan: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes is the story of a single mom, her quirky kids, their enormous smelly dog, and one life-changing road trip to a Math Olympiad with a virtual stranger. This contemporary romance is full of humor and heart and manages to steer clear of expected cliche. Fans of Liane Moriarty and the film Little Miss Sunshine with find themselves rooting for Jess and her kids.

Dori: In Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Annie’s mother has died, and she’s broke, sick and homeless, returning to her family cottage off the coast of Maine to find a valuable family legacy with only her puppets for company. She has terrible memories of the island because in her teens she fell for a wealthy boy there, Theo, who tried to kill her. Soon, however, she runs into him and discovers that he’s grown up to be a brooding, handsome horror writer who’s not as evil as she remembers. As she’s drawn into the lives of the islanders, it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want her there: is it Theo or someone else on the island? This book has a bit of Gothic spice but it’s also funny, with a strong female character and a twisted plot, making it a unique romance.

(That’s right! Dori and I read the same book!)

Stacey: Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the story of Annie, a struggling puppeteer, and Theo, a successful author. The two met when they were children and their parents married. Their years as step-siblings were limited but they managed to go from awkward to intrigued adolescents, and a lifetime fascination was born. This author has a special knack at mixing humor into her romance stories and she knows how to add a nice touch of drama to keep the pages turning.

We’re about to ride off into the sunset now, and we’re going to pick up a Western on our way! If you want to mosey in the same direction, you’ll want to look for a book generally set in the Western half of North America with side open skies, a flawed hero and a clear resolution. See ya soon pardner!

− Stacey

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