Three novellas have been on my to-read list for months: Snow-Kissed, The Story Guy, and The Bridge. Two of the authors were already at the top of my must-read list, the other just earned a spot. These were all very intense, very unique and beautiful stories. I really have no hope of doing any of them true justice, but I had to share my love.
Series: Stand alone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 9/1/13
Rating: 5 stars
Florand takes us to a snow-kissed Christmas cabin for this heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, forgiveness—and hope. After the utter destruction of her marriage and her happiness, Kai knew it was better to shut herself away from the world than to hurt and be hurt. Holed up in her mountain cabin, she planned to spend her Christmas alone. Until her not-quite-ex-husband shows up as the first flakes start to fall. Now should she send him back out into the cold? Or can she be brave enough to let this winter snow bind them back together?
If anyone should ask me why Laura Florand is one of my very, very favorite authors, I won't need to say a word. I will let Snow-Kissed speak for me. It is undoubtedly one of the very best, most moving stories I've had the privilege to read.
Snow-Kissed is a marriage-in crisis story, except... this is a marriage not so much in crisis ans it is shattered. Kai and Kurt were so, so happy, before they experienced the profound loss of a dream. The aftermath of the losses is unbearable for Kai and in a turmoil of grief, rage and shame, she leaves her husband. More than a year later, Kai is beginning to thaw. She still tolerates her grief moment-by-moment, but is slowly learning to breathe through the pain. She is also beginning to realize she virtually destroyed the love she and Kurt shared. Kai knows they must both move on alone. The future they can move to separately cannot possibly be worse than what they'd face if they look back...can it? And besides, how could Kurt possibly forgive her for the angry words, the leaving?
Snow-Kissed is a very delicate story, covering past joy and grief of a happy marriage, the pain and hesitation of facing all that's been lost, and the fragile moments of fear and the tentative hope of a future. Through Florand's narrative, giving us both Kai and Kurt's heartbreaking points-of-view, this story gripped my heart. Many passages made had my heart aching. In the moments in which Kai and Kurt shared memories of happy times, I smiled. Believe it or not (given everything I've said) Snow-Kissed had passionate moments that left me a bit breathless. I was so completely in every moment.
With its premise, Snow-Kissed is a very difficult story to read. and in many cases that would serve for a difficult read. With Florand's prose, though, it is easy...because it is so beautiful. This is one hundred, twenty pages of story that is packed with more emotion than many novels three times its length. Snow-Kissed intrigued me, broke me wide-open, and in the end, left me with a smile and the memory of a difficult yet gorgeous journey.
Their eyes held. His were so gorgeous, their beauty all for her... and yet she had always known, right from the first moment he stood looking down at her in his mother's gardens and she looked back up into those hazel eyes, and her heart caught.
Her heart had been so smart. Suicidal in its bright optimism, clueless as to what would come, but still--so smart, to so immediately respond to him.
"You're the most beautiful thing that ever happened in my life," Kai whispered suddenly, clutching at him as if he might melt out of her arms. His arm tightened under her bottom, driving himself deep, deep. "I don't know what I did to deserve you."
Series: Stand alone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 7/8/14
Rating: 5 stars
I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only. Carrie West is happy with her life... isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined.
Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life... that he won't share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One... even though she has no idea how their love story will end?
"Story guys are like life highlighters. Your life is all these big blocks of gray text, and them a story guy comes in with a big ol' paragraph of neon pink so that when you flip back through your life, you can stop and remember all the important and interesting places."
Of all the synopses I've come across, The Story Guy's hold a place as the most intriguing. I knew I had to read this story, to find out why this man wants a small window of time consisting only of kisses, and what exactly is a "story guy".
I'm so happy to have finally read The Story Guy. I already knew that Mary Ann River's writing is the very specific type that makes me heart immeasurably happy. Her novel Live blew me away, and everything I loved about it is what I love about this novella. The story is quietly profound, Rivers has a beautiful way of capturing the beauty and rawness of even the most simple of moments.
So besides the writing, what I loved about The Story Guy is that I had no idea what I was getting into. I had faith, though, that I would get a beautiful, thoughtful story. That is exactly what Rivers delivers. Part of the pull of The Story Guy is the not knowing, so I won't say too much. Brian and Carrie's was everything that I look for in a love story. And when I learned Brian's story... my heart broke, along with Carrie's. To be a witness to Carrie's unwavering love and support was a gift.
If you are a fan of Cara McKenna or Laura Florand, Mary Ann Rivers is a must-read author.
“That first Wednesday, in the park, I saw you before I noticed you were holding the umbrella, and I had one thought, just one.”
My heart stutters. “What was that?”
Series: Stand alone
Publisher: Promised Land Books
Publication Date: 9/16/13
Rating: 5 stars
Henry meets Christa on the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, just as they’re both about to jump off and kill themselves. Despite his paralyzing depression—and her panic over a second bout of cancer—they can’t go through with their plans knowing that the other is going to die. So they make a pact—they’ll stay alive for 24 hours, and try to convince each other to live.
From the Staten Island Ferry to Chinatown to the Museum of Modern Art—Henry and Christa embark on a New York City odyssey that exposes the darkest moments of their lives. Is it too late for them? Or will love give them the courage to face the terrifying possibility of hope?
If someone tried to convince me that this story of two people who intend to commit suicide-a story that not only discusses suicide but also examines the debilitating effect of severe depression-was not only not depressing, but was actually...uplifting? I would not have believed. The Bridge is a unique and thoughtful look at a day-the last day-for Christa and Henry, both intent on ending their lives at the Brooklyn Bridge. Henry has a long history of severe depression and suicidal thoughts, even has a failed attempt in his past. Christa is facing the recurrence of breast cancer. He can't face another day bearing the pain of the cruelty he sees in the world. She doesn't want to again face treatments, the debilitating illness that comes with them, alone. Why put off the inevitable when the cancer will only kill her in the end?
But Christa and Henry both believe the other has a reason to live. In Henry, Christa sees a man who has opportunities, a family who will mourn him despite what he believes. Henry sees Christa and doesn't see a terminal diagnosis, but another challenge she can endure if she has the courage. Despite their best efforts, in an effort to save the other, Christa and Henry actually have the opportunity to save each other. The two take an entire day to convince the other to make a different choice. They experience quiet, beautiful moments in a garden, witnessing kindness on a city bus, eating ice cream, looking at art. Along the way, the two become invested in each other's outcome. Can they find the will to face a future? Could they possibly do it together?
The Bridge is a story that I could see myself running away from. Depression has had a second-hand effect on my life. To see someone struggle when you can't fully understand the despair, when you want to shout "Snap out of it!" is a truly powerless feeling. And cancer, the cruelest word I know. So many people I've cared for has been lost to it, and very recently I've had to face it with my dad, again. But despite my fears, The Bridge didn't actually crush me. It is a story about finding the beautiful moments, finding the will to keep moving forward. That is life affirming.
The Bridge is an intense story, very thought-provoking, and surprisingly romantic. I'm sure it is a story that will stay in my mind and in my heart.
Favorite QuotesAnd Henry. Lying beside me with his eyes closed, breathing. Would it be bad if I climbed into the crook of his arm to sleep?
I try it, and he doesn't push me away. Instead he turns his face toward me, and presses his mouth against my hair. I feel the intake of his breath, the soft exhalation. His arm around me is warm and sure, and his heart beats strong, strong. I don't want to feel the stirring in my body in the places his body touches mine. I don't want to feel the heat of him beside me, or to crave that heat. To want to burrow inside it and look for sustenance there.
I try not to think about tomorrow. About where he'll be. Where I'll be.
I was so certain this morning. So completely sure. And now?
I don't know. I don't know.
About the authors
Laura Florand is the international bestselling author of the Amour et Chocolat series (The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, etc.), where sexy French chocolatiers woo the women they love with what they love best--romance you can taste. Her books have been translated into seven languages, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and been recommended by USA Today, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. She was born in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking everywhere from New Zealand to Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman, a story told in her first book Blame It on Paris. Now a lecturer at Duke University, she is very dedicated to her research into French chocolate. For some behind the scenes glimpses of that research, please visit her at www.lauraflorand.com.