I’ll tell you a little secret. This is my first Lisa Kleypas book. I generally don’t read contemporary romance, but the description on this felt a little PNR-ish and I have long heard positive things about this author. So I figured this was a great opportunity to give her a try. Here’s the blurb:
ONE MAN WITHOUT A SOUL WHO WANTS HER MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF . . .
THEY MEET IN A SMALL ISLAND TOWN IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, WHERE MAGIC IS IN THE AIR AND FATE IS A FORCE TOO POWERFUL TO DEFY. . . .
In New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas’s Crystal Cove, Justine Hoffman has made a comfortable life for herself on the island of Friday Harbor. She is the proprietor of a successful boutique hotel, and she has the safe, predictable life she has always wanted. Growing up with her flighty, nomadic mother, Marigold, has instilled in her a deep longing for stability. But in spite of everything Justine has achieved, there is still something missing. Love. And after years of waiting and dreaming, she is willing to do whatever it takes to change her destiny.
What Justine soon discovers is that someone cast a spell on her when she was born, with the result that she will never find her soul mate. Determined to change her fate, Justine finds a way to break the enchantment, never dreaming of the dangerous complications that will follow.
And when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that threaten everything she holds dear . . . because Jason has secrets of his own, and he wants more from her than fate will ever allow.
Frankly, she had me at Man-Without-A-Soul. Unfortunately, when I actually started reading, I was sorely disappointed. I think the description of the story is accurate, but let me tell you about some of the things it leaves out.
This is not PNR. Maybe everyone else already familiar with Lisa Kleypas knew that. This is a contemporary romance with paranormal elements. That may sound nitpicky, but for lack of a better explanation, the two genres have a very different feel. And I’m not sure who the audience is supposed to be. Readers looking for PNR are going to unsatisfied, and I am not sure that anyone looking for a contemporary will love the magic woven in. It’s an uncomfortable blend.
The hero is a conceited, self-absorbed ass. He is heavy handed. He lies to Justine. He makes choices that satisfy his own needs, and she is expected to just get over it and accept it. Then… she does… which goes on to frustrate me even more. Yeah, he tried to make a noble sacrifice at the end, but it was still to get what he wanted, which –by then– was Justine.
There are BDSM elements in the story, which both surprised and perturbed me. I don’t like BDSM and actively avoid it. I am a strong believer that if it’s part of a book, the blurb or cover art or SOMETHING needs to tip me off that it’s in there. Folks on Twitter and Goodreads asked me if I was sure Kleypas was writing BDSM. I’ll tell you what I told them… he trusses her up in a hemp rope like a turkey at Thanksgiving, and went at her while she couldn’t move. –Yes, definitely bondage, and in the other scenes, he’s still clearly dominating. Let’s look at the cover and read the blurb again. Did I miss something??
There was absolutely no reason to believe that these two are in love. Jason goes from wanting Justine for her magic to being in love with her instantly. There was no basis for it and they were proclaiming their love within just a few days.
I just couldn’t invest in the romance. I didn’t like the hero. And I didn’t enjoy the sex. Not a winner for me.
*ARC Provided by St Martin’s Griffin
Crystal Coveby Lisa KeypasRelease Date: February 5, 2013Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin