In preparation for this post, I was trying to remember the first book I ever read by Lisa Kleypas. I'm not completely sure, but I think it may have been A Wallflower Christmas. Yes, I came a little late to the LK party, but I made up for it fairly quickly, dispatching The Wallflowers and The Hathaways in staccato time. (My favorite? The Devil in Winter.)
I've really enjoyed the Friday Harbor novels, and the elements of magic and the supernatural that have swirled through them. I love the stained glass masterpiece at the vineyard in Rainshadow Road. I love the ghost who haunts Alex, the least likely 'hauntee' ever, and how Zoe rescues his heart in Dream Lake. I love the fairy house in Christmas at Friday Harbor. And in Crystal Cove, I love the idea of a "soul-less" man who flies high and bright, only to die young, and of the woman who is cursed never to love, both fighting for a seemingly doomed chance at their HEA.
I know there are a lot of critics out there regarding this series, but I applaud Lisa Kleypas for taking on some new challenges and heading in some riskier directions. She is a master storyteller, and her ability to write characters with the perfect blend of pluck and damage, while pairing heroes and heroines with the exact strengths and vulnerabilities that make it seem the two are absolutely perfect for each other -- if they can only get deep enough, past the surface of why they will never work -- is sheer genius.
Crystal Cove is probably the edgiest book LK's ever written. With genetic witches, covens, and an eyebrow-raising sex scene - I found it fascinating, though, and a great representation of control vs. trust - I can understand why some of her fans might consider this one a little "out there." But for me, the journey these two confused, wounded souls take is a fascinating exploration into the psyche, especially in the case of Jason Black. And the relationship between Justine and her mother is well-drawn and intriguing. The central idea of a woman who can't love and a man without a soul fighting for their chance at happy-ever-after is kind of a new twist on romantic suspense, and I think it really worked.
New Lisa Kleypas novels are always an automatic read for me, and the Friday Harbor books were a soaring, successful departure from her typical romances. Having said that, I can understand why they may not be for everyone. However, as an exploration of romance, damaged souls, and the road to love, they contain Lisa Kleypas' typical flawless writing, sensual romanticism and breathtaking characterization.
They worked for me.
Lisa Kleypas and her publisher, St. Martins, have generously donated one set of all four Friday Harbor books to give away. Leave a comment on this post with your favorite Lisa Kleypas couple and the title of the book (I know, it's hard to pick one - but you have to choose…) by Noon, Sun Feb 24th (EST) to win. Additional entries for commenting on each post this week (Feb 14-20 - links below). Sometimes I get notified of comments, and sometimes I don't, so either "like" my facebook page so I can contact you easily if you win, or be sure to check back on this post on Monday, Feb 25th to see if you've won (or both!).
Also be sure to see all of the other posts for this huge "Week of Romance" giveaway at Read~Write~Love. We have Kristan Higgins, Molly O'Keefe, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lauren Dane, Sarah MacLean, Anne Gracie and Cindy Gerard. (See the original post for more details.)
I plan to run regular romance reviews, recommendations and discussions here at Read~Write~Love, so come back often - and "like" my facebook page for notifications of new posts and contests.
Thanks so much!