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
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
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!)