Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: The Romance Reader's Guide to Life

Title: The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life
Author: Sharon Pywell
Publisher: 1 May 2017 Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre:  fiction
My Rating: 2.5 cups

As a young girl, Neave was often stuck in a world that didn’t know what to do with her. As her mother not unkindly told her, she was never going to grow up to be a great beauty. Her glamorous sister, Lilly, moved easily through the world, a parade of handsome men in pursuit. Her brother didn’t want a girl joining his group of friends. And their small town of Lynn, Massachusetts, didn’t have a place for a girl whose feelings often put her at war with the world -- often this meant her mother, her brother, and the town librarian who wanted to keep her away from the Dangerous Books she really wanted to read.
But through an unexpected friendship, Neave finds herself with a forbidden copy of The Pirate Lover, a steamy romance, and Neave discovers a world of passion, love, and betrayal. And it is to this world that as a grown up she retreats to again and again when real life becomes too much.
Neave finds herself rereading The Pirate Lover more than she ever would have expected because as she gets older, life does not follow the romances she gobbled up as a child. When Neave and Lilly are about to realize their professional dream, Lilly suddenly disappears. Neave must put her beloved books down and take center stage, something she has been running from her entire life. And she must figure out what happened to Lilly – and if she’s next.
Who Neave turns to help her makes Sharon Pywell's The Romance Reader's Guide to Life one of the most original, entertaining, exciting, and chilling novels you will read this year.

My Thoughts

‘They think that women who read romances are idiots. I assure you, they are not.” “No?”
“No. They are people who trust that love exists and that it is more powerful than bad logic or bad writing.’

This book turned out to be very different from what I was expecting. It is a romance and it is historical fiction, but it’s a lot more complicated than that! The concept is quite clever, but I have to admit to being confused and not engaged by unlikeable characters. It’s not a straightforward story with two narrators and inserted throughout, a historical romance. Confused? I was. Throw into that mix some ‘left of centre’ aspects such as a talking cross-dressing dog and this was not really the book for me.
The book alternates between the sisters - Lilly from "where she is now" with Mr. Boppit (above mentioned dog) and Neave, to portray what their lives had been like. Although presented from a unique perspective, it’s surrealism stretches credibility. The pirate romance, that is interspersed with the main story, is most definitely a separate story until the parallels come together towards the end.
This book was meant as a commentary on romance, with regards to those who read it compared to real life. It is most definitely original and well written. So if you are up for a dark read, that incorporates a little of everything from historical fiction to paranormal, then this quirky little read is for you.

‘She’s not ugly but she’s bookish, which is not a real enchanting characteristic in the world I lived in.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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