Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Rainshadow Road

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance (with magical element)
February 28, 2012
St. Martin’s

Reviewed by Mandi

I’m relatively new to Lisa Kleypas contemporaries. I’m a huge fan of her historicals and decided to try Smooth Talking Stranger this year on audio. I ended up loving it, and still plan to read the other two in that series. But I didn’t want to let this new contemporary pass me by. I was hesitant though for one main reason – magic. I don’t like magic in my otherwise contemporary books. For example, The Next Always by Nora Roberts. The ghost kind of ruined that book for me. So I went into this book expecting to rant and rave about the magic aspect. And instead, I really didn’t have much of a problem at all, and I think it is all because Lisa Kleypas didn’t try to make it a surprise and it doesn’t overwhelm the story. We pretty much know from page one:

When Lucy Marinn was seven years old, three things happened: Her little sister Alice got sick, she was assigned her first science fair project, and she found out magic existed.

Those three things are vital to this story. Alice becomes ill, and even after she recovers, can do no wrong in her parents eyes. She is doted on to an extreme, and never has to take responsibility for anything. This makes a young Lucy jealous and as an adult resentful of both Alice and her parents. It becomes much worse, when Lucy’s boyfriend dumps her, for her sister. Devastated, Lucy must rebuild her life in the town of Friday Harbor.

When she is assigned her first science fair project, she discovers her absolute obsession with glass, and glass art more specifically. She starts to absorb everything there is to know about glass and the craft of creating it into artistic pieces. She also learns this, after her first beloved ornament is shattered by her sister:

She blinked as the glimmers rose from the floor and swirled around her. Astonished, she wiped her eyes with her fingers and watched the lights circle and dance. Finally she understood what she was seeing.

Fireflies.

Magic meant just for her.

Every shard of glass had transformed into living sparks. Slowly the dancing procession of fireflies made their way to the open window and slipped into the night.

Now, magic doesn’t take the lead in this story. It is actually not even mentioned very much. It doesn’t necessarily impact Lucy’s life, besides the fact that the only thing she wants to do in life is work with glass. Later in the story, there are some times during extreme emotion, that she turns a juice glass into a hummingbird and something else into a bat. I probably could have lived without this, but it didn’t nearly annoy me as much as I expected it to.

Lucy is not alone in this book. We have a very sexy hero by the name of Sam Nolan. Sam owns his own vineyard. He is a farmer by heart, and one day hopes to turn his small grape growing obsession into a full scale winery. He has magic too – a green thumb, literally. He can touch a plant and it comes to life. He has known from a very young age exactly what to plant where in each garden for the fullest effect. He meets Lucy by chance, the day her boyfriend dumps her, and they have a friendly conversation. They have mutual friends who start to urge them together. Lucy is very hesitant, since she just had her heart broken and Sam only does sex, not relationships. But after Lucy has a bad bike injury and needs 24 hour care for a few days, Sam reluctantly steps up to help her and a relationship unfolds.

I really enjoyed Sam. His sister died recently, leaving her six-year old daughter behind. Having two brothers, his brother Mark becomes his nieces legal guardian, but having no idea how to raise a six-year old, they both move in with Sam. The family has a great dynamic which adds much to this story.

Lucy comes across a bit prickly through much of the book. I did get a little tired of it after a time. And I have to say – after reading Smooth Talking Stranger and many of this author’s historicals, the sex scenes in this book are very much skimmed over. They are not the kind of very sensual romance scenes I expected, so I was a little disappointed there. But that is all nitpicking. Overall I really enjoyed this one. It has a bit of a whimsical tone, and a very engaging story.

Rating: B

Recent Reviews:
Dear Author – B
Babbling About Books and More – B-/C+
All About Romance – A
Book Binge – 4/5
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Comments

  1. says

    I really liked this book. The magic element was weird, not because it came out of nowhere, but because I wasn’t sure what was its purpose. I felt like the author just wanted something magical and just added it to look pretty but it didn’t have any function. The first book doesn’t have magic but the next one does, so it’s a bit crazy to add this element in the middle of the series. But it was cute, though. The whole book was sweet and entertaining and I can’t wait to read Alex’s book which I’m sure will be awesome because I love tortured heroes!

    • Mandi says

      Ah..I was wondering if Mark’s book had magic. I could go either way with it – because it was light, it didn’t bother me, but the story would have been just as good without the magic.

    • says

      Yes, Brie. I agree. I was a bit nonplussed by the magical realism – it didn’t seem to serve a purpose in the story and it could have been cut without losing anything, IMO.

  2. Annie @ UTC says

    Great review! I’m looking forward to the next one. But apparently there is a ghost is that as the magical element this time. Not sure how I feel about that, but I will still read it to find out.

  3. Paula says

    Great review. I liked this one too. I have to admit though… I really enjoyed her Travises series better. Especially Blue-Eyed Devil. Yum, Hardy. ;)

    • Mandi says

      I’ve only read Smooth Talking Stranger – but that book felt much more like a strict romance where as this one could arguably be more woman’s fiction. I tend to enjoy pure romance books more too. I NEED to read Hardy’s book!

  4. HeatherU says

    I feel like a lot of writers lately, the more successful they become the more they veer away from the sex and sexual chemistry(and become more fiction than romance). Linda Howard, Catherine Coulter, etc. come to mind.

    And really, she writes sexual chemistry so well…it’s why I love her historicals and the Travis series. Even the Travis series, more women’s fiction than romance, has some great steamy scenes.

    I was a bit bummed that this was missing from the first book in this series, so I’m disappointed to hear that it wasn’t just that novel, but it looks like the whole series. At least I’m borrowing this from my library!

    • Mandi says

      I wonder why that is? Or why she chose to go more fic than romance in this one. As a pure romance reader, I definitely missed those sensual scenes – especially because she still does a nice build up to the sex…but then the sex is so skimmed. Boo.

      • Heather U says

        It came in from the library for me on Friday, I read it Saturday. She and Sam had such great chemistry (holy shower scene!) and it was all lead up, and skimming of the good parts. Bummer. I’m really curious about Alex, though. Him and the cook lady (forgot her name – see how memorable this was) are the next book, yes?

  5. says

    You do need to read Blue Eyed Devil. Hardy is amazing in it. But just as with Smooth Talking Stranger, the story is told from Haven’s POV. In fact, this is my main complaint with the Travis’s stories: we only hear the heroine’s inner voice. Again, kinda a women’s lit move. More so, Kleypas uses the trope of a woman’s path into and then out of an abusive relationship in BED. Mostly I don’t mind, the therapy-talk because Hardy and Haven have serious chemistry.

    Still, I’m gonna say it. I think Kleypas has lost her edge. I think your “B” rating for Rainshadow Road was generous. Excepting for Smooth Talking Stranger, the Travis series shifts too far into women’s lit–and not in a good way. This new Friday Harbor series is bland. No sizzle. No plot-line. No sparkling dialogue. The men do not leap off the page as soo many of her historical heroes do. And the women she’s writing feel stitched-together. They don’t come to life for me. They are like cooking a dish where you have most of the ingredients on the list, but are missing a few. And, instead of running to the store you make substitutions. The end result resembles the intended dish,but tastes off. These leading women resemble romance heroines, but their flavor is off.

    • says

      Even though it wasn’t as steamy as the Travis books, I still really enjoyed this one. I couldn’t read a book like this everyday – I need more romance/sex…but it was a fun change for me. I still felt their chemistry and I really enjoyed both of their families and drama associated with them.

  6. says

    I loved Smooth Talking Stranger too and I’ve been eyeing this book but like you, I’m not a fan of magic in my contemporaries.
    It sounds good enough for me to give it a try though.

  7. says

    This book arrived yesterday, I am really looking forward to reading it. I did not know about the magic though, and certainly did not expect it. But I like a dash of paranormal in my books :)

  8. says

    Yes Mandi – I agree, the sex scenes were fairly tame in this one and there weren’t all that many of them. I enjoyed it (about a B- for me) but not as much as Smooth Talking Stranger and Blue Eyed Devil. If you like audio, I highly recommend Blue Eyed Devil in that format – Renee Raudman narrates and she does a great Hardy Cates. Also, in BED, the MC’s spend more time together – in RR, I felt like we got the beginning and the end (ie HEA) but not much of the middle and I didn’t see Sam falling in love with Lucy which I was quite sad about (hence the minus in the grade!) :)

    • Mandi says

      I do have BED in audio. I’m excited to start it.

      Rainshadow def had a fiction hint to it..not a flat-out romance as her others. I agree on that. I wonder why she went that route…

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