Category Archives: Romance

“This Is How I’d Love You,” by Hazel Woods — A Perfect Read Any Time of the Year

I discovered the novel This Is How I’d Love You totally by accident. I was searching for books about the history of chess. Among the selections was this World War I-era story about chess players. After being matched, the correspondents share some details about each other’s lives, but the main purpose of writing is playing the game. Each man enjoys the chess challenge and is very good at it. Although they have never met, they like and respect each other.

Sascha Dench is a journalist at the New York Times who is very much against the U.S. entering World War I. In fact, he’s penned incendiary opinion pieces–and they have cost him his job. Charles Reid is from a wealthy New York business family. Unwilling to join the family firm, he enlists–much to the ire of his father. He is now serving as a medic in France, confronting war’s horrors and adjusting to life as a soldier.

Meanwhile, Sascha Dench is at loose ends. His independent-minded daughter Hensley, a seamstress, has recently graduated from school. However, she is facing her own serious problems. Deciding that a new start is in order, her father accepts a mine supervisor job in New Mexico through a distant relative of his late wife. Hensley goes with him–feeling alone and very unsure of what to expect in an unfamiliar part of the country.

One day, Hensley intercepts a letter from Charles to her father. She writes back, and encloses her letter with her dad’s reply. In addition to telling Charles about herself, she includes descriptions of their new home, and a few sketches and doodles.

Charles responds, and he soon looks forward to the family’s letters. On some days they are what keeps him going. “Your words have become as necessary to me as my own heartbeat,” Charles tells Hensley. His words are just as vital to her. When tragedy strikes, they are there for each other. It isn’t long before they fall in love through their correspondence. However, Charles and Hensley still have to dig deep to reveal truths about themselves. As they journey toward each other to meet in person, their relationship is strengthened even more.

This is Hazel Woods’ first novel. I can’t wait for the next one!  And I hope it will be just as beautiful. Here is an interview with the author.

 

Image result for free clip art chess pieces

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Filed under historical fiction, Romance, World War I

Regency England — The World of Georgette Heyer

I first heard of British writer Georgette Heyer through a librarian I knew who enjoyed reading her books to relax. “Pure escapism,” she would say. She didn’t seem like someone who would enjoy that author. I was intrigued about Georgette Heyer, though. I had never heard of her. In a review in the Guardian, a critic said Heyer took the plot of Jane Eyre and rewrote it one hundred times. Even so, the novels so far seem very lighthearted and enjoyable. I’m not so sure if the author was the same way in real life. I read Barbara Cartland a lot as a teenager, and apparently there was a rivalry between the authors.

I haven’t read a lot of Georgette Heyer, or much about Regency England, but I would read her again. For my first try at exploring her work, I went to my library’s e-collection. I chose Arabella.

No reader can resist Arabella–she’s smart, opinionated, funny, loves her family, and helps out where she can. She tries to see the best in people. For those she catches doing wrong, woe to them!  Although not of noble birth, Arabella has been given the gift of a London season from a school friend of her mother’s. Once there, by being true to her nature, she wins everyone’s hearts and changes lives for the good–including that of an obnoxious marquis, earl, or duke–I forgot his rank, but it doesn’t matter. For some reason, he is much admired by those in his circle.

You guessed it–Arabella turns his life upside down–after they annoy each other no end at their first meeting with their different views. They can’t agree on anything. And it takes him forever to realize that he loves her. It doesn’t take Arabella an eternity to realize that she has romantic feelings for this man; she’s just cautious and wise. The nobleman bordered on oblivious–until almost the very end of the story. Oh, well. Better late than never.

The next book I tried was The Foundling. I strongly identified with Gilly (his full name is too long to remember), a young gentleman of noble birth who has many things expected of him from others. He feels a great responsibility for everyone. The trouble is, he’s never been allowed to make a decision for himself. He’s always had assistance from other people. He also feels that he doesn’t have enough real-world experience. So, one day he decides to leave his ancestral home–and then the adventure begins.

It actually sounded pretty good. However, in the first chapter, where Gilly returns from a local hunting excursion, I knew I was in trouble. It took me a month to get past the pages where he crosses the lawn and enters the house.  Definitely not a good sign. I knew I had to leave it for another time.

My favorite catalog, Bas Bleu, sells many Georgette Heyer titles and a lot of other cool items. I got such a kick out of this entry from August 10, 2016 on their blog. I recommend it for smiles, grins, chuckles, and belly laughs: 16 Lessons We’ve Learned from Georgette Heyer. Enjoy!

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Filed under Fiction, historical fiction, Romance

Taking Me Back, and Turning the Pages

I first learned about the author Kristina McMorris through my subscription to the Women on Writing newsletter. Presumably, as a member, she was able to promote her first book, Letters from Home. That’s how I learned about her work. Letters from Home is about three friends and their experiences during WW II. One is a writer, one is a singer, and the other a talented fashion designer. One plot centers on one of the women writing to a GI, and a case of mistaken identity ensues. It’s a great book where you can lose yourself in another time. Two of the main characters are based on her maternal grandparents. McMorria sets most of her work during the Second World War, and she has a lot of admiration and respect for the Greatest Generation. Although it’s not really needed, the back of the book has a section of 1940s-era recipes. (McMorris’s first literary project was a family cookbook.) She often includes titles of works she used in her research.

McMorris’s second book, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, centers on an American woman, Maddie, a violinist bound for Juilliard, who is dating a childhood friend, Lane, a second-generation Japanese American who is also in college. Maddie hides the relationship from her brother and the rest of the community. After Pearl Harbor, distrust of and prejudice against Japanese Americans worsens. When Maddie and Lane marry secretly, she follows him to an internment camp. Readers are on the edge of their seats praying that everything will turn out all right.

Her third novel, The Pieces We Keep, combines the World-War II-era past and the present in an amazing way. But it takes a while to discover how all the threads of the story are connected. You keep reading to find out. Be prepared for late nights of reading.

No matter in what time you live, life is never easy. But there are a few bright spots. McMorris’s characters are real, and you care about them and what happens to them–the best way to enjoy a satisfying read.

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Filed under History, Romance, Uncategorized, World War II

I’m a Debbie Macomber Fan!

Saturday night, I stayed up to finish reading Debbie Macomber’s Love Letters, the new third novel in her “Inn at Rose Harbor” series, also set in Cedar Cove. Mostly, I really wanted to see what happened to the characters. I got really involved in their stories. The second reason was more practical. My eBook borrowing period was about to expire, and I didn’t want to renew it or put it on hold. Before I knew it, the time had flown to 3:15 a.m.! But it was worth it. I can’t wait for the next installment! And I didn’t even peek at the ending–a bad habit of mine.

My first experience with Debbie Macomber’s books was when I read Summer on Blossom Street. I admit that the cover painting grabbed me. Baxter the Yorkie–owned by Anne Marie Roche, was on the front cover, and looked so cute. The rest is history…

So I kept looking for more of her titles. I haven’t read them all yet, but I will. There is no hurry. (Her early work has also been reissued, which is nice to see.) The only one I still can’t get through is Susannah’s Garden. Susannah, who owns the flower shop on Blossom Street, soon realizes that her mom is experiencing significant memory problems. Cuts a little too close to the bone. Maybe I can manage it one day. But I’m not promising myself anything.

Ironically, I have read few romance novels; however, these are worth reading because of the down-to-earth characters, the plots, the sense of community, and the quality of her writing. Even when bad things happen to the characters, there is still a sense of hope. The stories set in  Washington state make me curious about that part of the country. Interestingly, without meaning to, I’ve discovered other authors and works about Washington state and the western part of the country.. It sounds so beautiful.

Many of her characters are good at homemaking and crafting skills…mainly knitting. That’s not me, but I love the stories anyway.

Don’t be afraid to get comfy with a cup of coffee or tea, and curl up and read Debbie Macomber. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

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Filed under Romance, Women's Fiction