Crystal Cove (by Lisa Kleypas)

Crystal Cove - Friday Harbor #4 (by Lisa Kleypas)

Conflict:  Big Secret / Past baggage issues / Soulmate salvation

Some of the past baggage issues aren’t as major to the plot:  It’s explained, and then it's mentioned a little bit, but I like that it wasn’t repetitively thrown in my face.  The soulmate salvation isn’t emphasized as strongly as some other paranormal romances - but there was a bit of magical "desperation" in this one.  I like to think of the “magic element” along the same lines of Like Water for Chocolate.  Magic is happening.  Crazy stuff is going on. The mom curses the daughter.  Just go with it.

Rundown: Justine’s mom curses her as a baby:  Justine can never fall in love.  Justine breaks the curse, and disrupts the universe - so there’s a price to pay, and someone’s gotta die.  Enter Don Draper Jason Black all hot and in charge (my mind only thinks of Don Draper, but younger, *less* of an asshole, and the kingpin of the gaming industry).  Jason and Justine fall in love, but he’s got a big secret (we figure it out relatively soon into the plot) - and he needs Justine (to “help” with part of his secret).  Of course they want HEA, but that whole part about “a price to pay”... yeah, that’s Jason.  There’s some witching clause about every witch’s true love dies - and it can’t be reversed/cancelled-out, whatever.  UGH.  That major aspect of the book irked me a bit, only because I thought it was really shitty for all the witches. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the action at the end, and I especially loved the description of the *spoilerish* (highlight -->) the curse being lifted (permanently) at the end - Yay HEA.

Crystal Cove, as I said two posts ago, is the steamiest Kleypas novel that I have read to date.  (Yes, steamier than Lady Sophia's Lover and Devil in Winter -- and even more than the raspberry scene in Suddenly You.)  After the third chapter, I found myself thinking that this romance includes everything but the kitchen sink.  (Cliché, but so true.)  Look at what’s involved:

Buddhist sense of the soul

Truth or Dare
Some Artsy talk  (I love when romances talk art appreciation...)
Boating and Kayaking - and various safety issues included
Kinbaku - the Japanese art of super-erotic bondage. Hooray for new cultural experiences! (Remember: Pinterest is your friend.)
Dark vs. Light (talked about this theme a little bit at Heroes and Heartbreakers)
Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA
Lesbian characters
Computer Games (and the gaming industry - w00t!!)
“Maguro” (I can never look at my favorite Sushi the same again...)
and some previous characters from the Friday Harbor series...

My Favorite:  There’s even an INCREDIBLE reference to Jason Black being so hot that he makes ovaries explode - while Seal’s Kiss from a Rose plays in the background. (Ovary essssplosion + Kiss from a Rose)

And now that your rose is in bloom...

And here’s me:

Why do I empathize with this heroine: Because I got the feeling that Justine pretty much hates being a witch (besides magical powers to do cool little things, like instantly lighting candles and spells for saving choking kids). She wants to just have her HEA and find true love. Her mom irritated me to no end, and there's a lot of BS going on that Justine can't get under control. I really liked the way she stood up to Jason's assertiveness (at first) during their getting-to-know-you kitchen scene.

Overall:  This is like the Chex Mix of romance novels: All the delicious pieces are necessary, and it makes for an excellent snack.  I will hog and devour the whole thing.  I can’t wait for Lightning Bay!

(Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC of this one!)

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