Holidays Mean Books

I’m holidaying at home this year. This is no hardship; I live on an island with beautiful beaches, world-renowned vineyards and award-winning restaurants. Staying home not only deepens my appreciation for the beauty in my own back yard, it gives me more time to read . . . and reading is its own kind of travel.

I started the summer with Paris In Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James. In 2009, James sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor and moved her family to Paris for a year. Her chronicles, told in Facebook-length short vignettes are true bites of Paris, without the calories. James, who is also a best-selling romance author, is sometimes witty and other times brilliantly descriptive as she details life with a dashing Italian husband, an overweight dog, and two children (11 and 15) who are initially less than enthused about the year away. Paris In Love had me nodding, laughing, and, on the last page, wishing there was more.

I was so dazzled by her writing that I picked up a James regency: When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Linnet Berry Thrynne is one of the most beautiful women ever to grace London’s ballrooms. Unfortunately, she’s been involved in something of a scandal and it’s believed she’s with child. She needs a husband. Enter Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, a grumpy beast of a doctor (brilliant but lame; shades of the just ended TV series House) who lives in a castle in Wales and knows one thing for sure: he will never fall in love. He may, however, be in the market for a wife. These two leads had me laughing out loud with their verbal sparring; the supporting characters added great depth. No surprise that When Beauty Tamed the Beast is shortlisted for RWA’s 2012 prestigious Rita award.

Speaking of Rita Awards, another shortlisted book I just finished is Barbara Freethy’s paranormal romance At Hidden Falls. I’m a long-time Freethy fan; I’ve loved her work since Daniel’s Gift. The story opens when Isabella Silviera’s car goes off the cliff en route to Angel’s Bay and she is rescued by Nick Hartley, a man she knows is somehow connected to her recent unsettling dreams. Based on the gift of insight she inherited from her Mayan ancestors, Isabella knows someone in the small community is in trouble and needs her help. Is it her brother? Or is it Nick? At Hidden Falls has secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and true love. A great summer read.

An auto buy for me is Kristan Higgins and her latest contemporary romance Somebody to Love had me reading way past bedtime. After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is penniless. All she has left in the way of assets is a decrepit house – one she’s never seen – in Gideon’s Cove, Maine. She needs to fix and flip in order to provide for her son, Nicky. Enter James Cahill, her father’s right hand man, who shows up in Maine to help. Though he’s seriously gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox, Parker is less than thrilled to see him. They have a history, and it’s not pretty. The love story builds beautifully with each character overcoming emotional obstacles standing in the way of a true relationship. The declaration of love was clever and the final kicker scene with Parker, James and little Nicky was both funny and poignant. Oh, and the scene with Parker and a mouse had me both laughing and squirming. Somebody to Love is another winner from Kristan Higgins.

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