This novel felt a little different from Barbara Delinsky's previous works, but in some ways it also felt very reminiscent of her earlier novels. The pThis novel felt a little different from Barbara Delinsky's previous works, but in some ways it also felt very reminiscent of her earlier novels. The protagonists were a little younger than her usual heroines (normally married women with grown children) and the romantic element came more into the forefront than I'd come to expect from her. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy these aspects of the book, but it definitely deviated from her norm.
I loved the setting of a remote island in Maine. Delinsky has often written stunning descriptions of the scenery in New Hampshire, and here she gives the fiction island of Quinnipeague similar justice. I lived by the sea for the four years, and although I don't miss the crazy cold winds, I do miss the scent of the sea air, and this book brought back fond memories of life in St Andrews and Anstruther.
Charlotte and Nicole are brought together to write Nicole's cookbook about Quinnipeague food, and I absolutely loved the details about all the recipes they hunted down from locals, the mysterious herbs that grew on the island, and Nicole's own cooking experiments. Although I could barely boil an egg when I left home five years ago, I've grown to adore cooking and my husband and I have accidentally fallen into the role of food gurus at our church, so the world of food blogging is all too familiar for me. Delinsky certainly did her research in this area.
Delinsky often writes about issues and betrayals that tear families apart or bring them back together. The one in this novel wasn't the most original issue (although the details about Julian's MS and possible treatments were interesting) and I figured out Charlotte's secret just from reading the back cover. Perhaps I've just read too many Delinsky novels? Honestly, I preferred the details about the cookbook, Quinnipeague and Charlotte's romance to the issues between her and Nicole, which were dealt with rather quickly.
As fascinating as the information about Julian's MS was, I never entirely understood Julian and Nicole's relationship. I realise that Nicole was meant to be a bit of a pushover and that she had to grow over the course of the novel, but I wasn't sure if I completely bought that she would keep her husband's MS a secret from everyone for four years just because he was worried about how it would affect his standing in the medical community. It's a massive burden to bear, and I was surprised she didn't crack any earlier. I struggled to find any redeeming features in Julian's character--he really wasn't terribly sympathetic, even considering his illness.
As I said before, I wasn't expecting a lot of romance when I started this book, so I was pleasantly surprised by how Charlotte and Leo's relationship developed. I guessed who Leo really was even before Charlotte met him, but that didn't make their relationship development any less interesting. Although Leo is initially painted as the island bad boy, he was actually a bit of a beta hero--a loner who cares deeply about his dog, looks after his deceased mother's garden even though she didn't always treat him well, and has a way with words that no one could ever imagine. His sensitivity with Charlotte--especially when things between her and Nicole explode--endeared me to him all the more. He's definitely my kind of hero.
It felt like things were tied up maybe a little bit too neatly by the end of the book, particularly in the epilogue. I was really pleased with how things worked out for Charlotte and Leo--and in fact, for a while I did wonder if they would work things out--but I'm not sure if I needed quite that much detail. I'm not a big epilogue girl.
This isn't one of Delinsky's best novels, and I'm even hesitant to call it a "standard Delinsky". It isn't that it's bad--it's just different from some of her other recent books, like Not My Daughter and While My Sister Sleeps. The heroines are younger, there's more romance, and the relationships take precedence over whatever topical issue Delinsky has chosen to discuss. I don't think I have a preference for either style of book, but I imagine that some readers will prefer the older and some the newer. Personally, I think this book was a good blend of the focus on relationships (between friends, family and lovers) that Delinsky's more recent books have had, and her skill at writing romance that she had when she first broke into the market, as well as her consistent love of New England scenery. This book would be perfect for someone looking for an engaging beach book that's slow moving but has some extra depth. 4*...more
I preferred this romance to the other early Delinsky I read this month, Flip Side of Yesterday, but it still wasn't amazing. The idea of the heroine aI preferred this romance to the other early Delinsky I read this month, Flip Side of Yesterday, but it still wasn't amazing. The idea of the heroine and hero--both widowed young--struggling to get on with their lives and meeting up at the same cabin every month was definitely original, and it allowed the romance to develop slowly over a realistic period of time. I wasn't massively keen on the hero initially as he seemed a little aggressive (a common theme in 80s romances, it seems) but I did warm up to him. This romance itself was very sweet, but the ending was riddled with Big Misunderstandings, and having two so close together didn't seem entirely realistic, especially as the heroine's reaction made it seem like she didn't entirely trust the hero, even though they'd known each other for nearly a year.
It wasn't until I had nearly finished this book that I realised what it was that was missing from it, and from Flip Side of Yesterday--the hero's point of view! Both novels were in third person, with the story told entirely from the heroine's perspective. We never get to learn how the hero is feeling or what he's thinking. I definitely missed this.
Overall, not a bad romance, but I've read much better. It was interesting reading Barbara Delinsky's early writing, and it's clear that she's always had a love of New England scenery. Her descriptions in this book definitely made me want to visit someday. 2.5*...more
I read this book in a reprint collection from 1998 called Rekindled. I grabbed it on BookMooch a couple of years ago, when I first got into Barbara DeI read this book in a reprint collection from 1998 called Rekindled. I grabbed it on BookMooch a couple of years ago, when I first got into Barbara Delinsky's writing, without realising it was a reprint of two of her early 80s romance novels. I've actually read a couple of her early novels, and I really enjoyed one of them (Montana Man) while the other one was just average (An Irresistible Impulse). This one falls into the latter category.
If I'd realised this book had originally been published under Harlequin/Silhouette's Desire line, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. Which I do really enjoy some of Harlequin's lines, I prefer the longer, more family and romance focused Superromances or Special Editions, rather than the sex-fuelled Desire novels. This book isn't bad--in fact, the writing isn't bad at all. It's just the style of romance and type of hero that didn't work for me. If you like Desire novels, you might like this book.
I decided to plough through this book, even if I didn't particularly enjoy it, because it was pretty short. It came in at 165 pages in my edition, and those were relatively small pages with a large font, so it was a quick read. I liked the details about the heroine's work with geology and looking into environmental factors affecting new business developments. Her past in New Orleans intrigued me, but we never really learn a lot about that, although it's hinted at vaguely throughout the novel. Her co-workers were at least a little more than cardboard cut-outs, but I did wish we'd had the chance to see her interacting with someone other than men for the entire book. There's Ross, the hero, Lee, her business partner, and the Senator she's working with on a job. There's a female intern who pops up for a few lines, but that's about it. Maybe it's just a reflection on workplaces in the 80s?
It appears that some parts of the book were updated for the late 90s audience. For example, the heroine puts on a CD rather than a cassette--which given the 80s fashions, seemed really out of place. But then they appear to go for a motorcycle ride without helmets--was this an 80s thing? My dad was a biker in the 70s and 80s and I know that he was in some accidents that could have killed him if he didn't wear a helmet. Maybe it's just because I'm the daughter of a biker, but this scene really bugged me.
My biggest issue with this book? The hero. He reminded me a lot of the hero from An Irresistible Impulse, so evidently this was a popular hero for 80s romance novels. He is such an alpha male, and I just don't like alpha males at all. He's very forceful and domineering with the heroine, to the point where it feels uncomfortable, not romantic. He cajoles her into going for dinner with him, working on business deals, etc, and I can see that it's meant to be romantic, but if a guy was ever that pushy with one of my girlfriends, I'd tell them to run away--FAST. He also insists on calling the heroine "princess" all the time, which isn't a term of endearment as much as it is a reference to her former life as a New Orleans débutante. Chloe makes it clear several times that she's moved on from who she was back then, but he still pushes the "princess" label on her. It's like he won't let her escape the past. I'm all for Chloe reconciling with her family, but that doesn't mean she has to return to being the spoiled, rich girl she used to be.
And of course, as happens in most 80s romance novels, the heroine has never slept with another guy since she was with the hero ten years ago. Of course, he is a man of the world and has been with many women. Although they only had one night together when she was 18, he's the only man for her, and they instantly fall in love again, and he's the one man who can teach her how to make love like a real woman, etc, etc. SNORE. I like my heroines to have a bit more backbone and not get hung up one guy forever, and my heroes to not be pushy jerks. This romance just didn't work for me.
I love romance novels, don't get me wrong. But this story needed a bit more realism, and the hero was more annoying than romantic. If you want to try one of Barbara Delinsky's early novels, I'd recommend Montana Man over this one. The hero is still a bit of an alpha male, but the snowbound-in-a-cabin plot makes the quick romance more believable, and there's a cute baby to add to the mix. This just wasn't my kind of romance. 2*...more
This was a vast improvement on the last romance novel that I read from this author. Barbara Delinsky is one of my favourite writers and I've started iThis was a vast improvement on the last romance novel that I read from this author. Barbara Delinsky is one of my favourite writers and I've started investigating some of her earlier works. While I was disappointed by An Irresistible Impulse, this novel had the typical Delinsky charm. Well developed characters, excellent interaction and chemistry, a cute baby, a couple of subplots and one of my favourite plot devices - snowbound in a cabin! While initially I was a bit annoyed that Quist conformed to the typical aplha male stereotype of an aloof, masculine woman-hater, Delinsky quickly made him into someone that I could sympathise with and enjoy reading about. Both Quist and Lily make judgements about each other and come to realise that first impressions aren't always the best, and end up liking each other...and falling in love, obviously! I appreciated that they both had pasts, particularly that Lily had come from a broken marriage and had a baby. But one aspect of romance novels that has always bugged me is that men are allowed to have been promiscuous but even women who have been married have to have had bad sexual experiences until they met The One. I'm not a fan of this double standard! This book was originally published in the Harlequin Temptation line, so there is a fair amount of sex, some of it described quite graphically. This isn't normally something I look for in a novel, but the engaging characters and plot made up for it. I was particularly pleased with the ending, where the catalysts for Quist and Lily meeting - he looking for his sister and she escaping her husband's family - came to a head. It was nice to know that these subplots weren't forgotten in the whirlwind of romance, and it made the characters and their histories all the more realistic. All in all, this novel did have its faults where typical romance stereotypes emerged, but otherwise this was a sweet romance and a perfect comfort read. 8/10...more
Edit in June 2012: I just listened to this audiobook again as I was in between Audible credits and my my audiobook from the library hadn't yet arrivedEdit in June 2012: I just listened to this audiobook again as I was in between Audible credits and my my audiobook from the library hadn't yet arrived, and I really can't remember why I only gave this book 4.5*! It is definitely one of Delinsky's best novels, and on a second listening, I couldn't find anything I didn't like. It was perfect, and had all the elements of a great Delinsky novel. I'm bumping this up to 5*.
It has been far too long since I read a Barbara Delinsky novel, and that became ever more clear to me as I listened to this audiobook any chance I got - washing dishes, ironing, walking to and from town, cooking dinner, etc. This was one of those books that really got my emotions riled up, but in a good way. There's a definite difference between stirred up emotions over anger at a character, or anger at the way a character is being treated. In this book's case, it was the second one, and I became increasingly annoyed at the way everyone blamed Susan for her daughter's pregnancy. This book brought up a lot of important questions about parenting and responsibility, and in particular: at what stage do you stop being accountable for your children's actions? Sometimes, no matter how much you have talked to your child about a certain issue, they'll still ignore your advice and do their own thing.
There were a couple of issues I had with this book, just based on the fact that I'm Scottish and situations like this would be treated entirely differently over here. For example, a principal could not be fired because her daughter got pregnant, and if a school board did try to do this, the teacher's union would get involved! And over here, I'm fairly certain the legal age for procreating is sixteen, even if you can't drive, drink or vote yet. You can also get married at sixteen. So Susan wouldn't have been held accountable for Lily's pregnancy, which I think is a good thing as seventeen year olds aren't children any longer! So I got pretty annoyed at the sections with the school board as it was entirely unjust to consider firing Susan over the actions of her nearly adult daughter.
This was a very compelling novel, probably one of Barbara's best so far. It ranks right up there along with While My Sister Sleeps, Shades of Grace and The Family Tree. I'm so glad I picked this audiobook as it reminded me of how much I enjoy Barbara's family sagas, especially the way that she looks at situations from the view points of all the parties involved and examines how they each cope with the crisis at hand. I almost wish she'd revisit Lily and her friends sometime, once their children are grown up, and see how their friendships have changed over time. I will definitely be making an effort to seek out more books from Barbara and I'm so glad that Not My Daughter rekindled my love for her writing. 9/10...more
As anyone who knows me will know, I really respect the writing of Barbara Delinsky. I must read at least one of her books every month, and although thAs anyone who knows me will know, I really respect the writing of Barbara Delinsky. I must read at least one of her books every month, and although they can hardly be considered "comfort reads" because of the issues they cover and the way that families are torn apart, there is something very enjoyable about exploring the lives of real people experiencing real problems. I like books that make me think "What if?" Jodi Picoult's novels also used to have this affect on me, but I find that I prefer Barbara Delinsky. The tag-line on the copy of my book reads "Fans of Jodi Picoult will love this" which, in my opinion, isn't entirely accurate. Jodi Picoult deals with issues, whereas I believe that Barbara Delinsky deals with the ramifications of a situation on a family. This book focuses on one event - the family favourite, a runner in her early thirties, collapsing due to heart problems and needing to be on life-support - and how the individual family members react.
The protagonist of the novel is Molly, the youngest sibling who feels overshadowed by her older sister. Now that Robin is lying on a hospital bed and her mother can't bear to leave her, Molly finds responsibilities fall to her. She has to take over her mother's duties at the garden nursery where they both work, as well as fending off Robin's reporter ex-boyfriend whose intentions may or may not be good. In the process, Molly ends up making a new friend, one who isn't interested in her because of who her sister is. He helps her to discover new things about herself, and uncover the truth about what Robin thought about her. By the end of the novel, each family member has changed in some way, from Molly to her mother to her older brother who is starting his own family.
I really liked Molly's character and enjoyed watching her grow and mature throughout the novel. Initially, I wasn't too keen on her as she seemed determined that there was no way that she could come out of Robin's shadow, but as the story progressed this changed. I also warmed up to Kathryn, the mother, who had issues of her own to deal with. My only gripe with this story was Chris, Molly's older brother, who although having his own sub-plot, didn't seem a very well developed character. His story did link in with the main plot but it seemed to be resolved far too quickly and tacked on to the main story in an awkward manner. I also got annoyed whenever one character said "Omigod" (spelt thus) as it made them sound like a twelve-year-old girl!
However, these were my only issues with this book. Otherwise, it contained great characters and brilliant conflict, as all of Barbara Delinsky's novels do. I could really imagine myself being in these character's shoes and wondered how I would cope with a similar situation. There were a couple of teary moments, so be prepared, but by the end of the book I was satisfied with how the characters grew and changed as they learned to deal with the issues facing them. 9/10...more