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Sunday, January 1, 2012

And the first review of the year award goes to....

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers....the place to be whenever your need to read comes a knocking. 


So...it's 2012.
O-O
OMG!
How exciting, right?  Right!  Why?  Seriously...you didn't just ask that.  I mean really with all the fun we had last year and a new year ahead filled with wonderful, glorious, exciting reads....what's NOT to be excited about?  ^_^  I know my calendar's full...in a good way, but I digress.

It's the first book review of the year, a memorable post is certainly called for as it sets the tone for all to come.  I pondered this moment for days, weeks even, seeing as how I have a few "read" titles awaiting their day in the spotlight from 2011 and...okay, okay...I'm kidding!  I didn't ponder all that long because frankly, there was only one choice and the moment I finished reading it, the decision was made for me because just as you can't keep a good girl down, you can't hide a good read from the world.  It was the PERFECT FIT...for me anyway, but I have a feeling it may strike the same notes for many of you out there as well.  Right then, all shall be revealed in 3...2...1...today's book of choice is....

A Summer in Europe
by
Marilyn Brant

*WARNING*  This review may cause spontaneous growth to your wish list thanks to the fan girl-ish reading adventure about to be revealed.  Proceed with caution.  You have been warned.*

Now I've read this author's work before (okay, one title to be exact, but I aim to add the other one to my "to read" and then "read" lists very soon), so I've had a little experience with her writing style, character building and tone...but as many of you know, each written work is a unique creation and so its merit or lack thereof can truly only be judged against itself.  Deep, huh?  I blame Emerson and Thoreau's influence....not the actual writers but the characters in the book that bare their names.  ^_^  Let's not get a head of ourselves...

When first we meet Gwendolyn Reese, it's like a mirror being held to your face...or rather my face.  Let's just say that I identify with her in many ways and with that humanity Gwen endeared herself to me as a character to be heard, to be watched, and to grow with.  Her life is not exactly where she intended it to be and when a birthday surprise (or lack thereof) falls through. things hit a pretty big bump in the road.  Lucky for her, Aunt Bea is on the case....

Who is Aunt Bea?  She's no detective is that's what you were thinking, rather she's the female strength and influence in one's life that has the best of intentions even if the methods don't always meet expectations.  (She reminds me in some ways of my own Mom...but that's a story for another post...) She adds that spark to life that is often lost over time giving those she loves the needed push to reach further than the happy maybe after placed neatly before them.  She's spunky (impromptu trip to Europe anyone?), eccentric (member of an "S and M club"...though it's not at all what you are thinking), a force so full of life that it spills over onto those in her general vicinity, creating almost magical results.  Truly another memorable character and one whose ulterior motives for the trip with Gwen are clear from the start....she wants her to be HAPPY and what's so wrong with that?  Anywho, back to the story....

Their trip takes them as well as the rest of the U.S. S and M group (stop giggling...it's not what you think!) overseas to explore the vast wonderful-ness that is Europe (needless to say a place that's on my dream vaca list) and get in a little gaming.  Little did they know the life experience gained wouldn't merely be the stamps on their passports....or rather, little did Gwen know.  In her methodical planning for this spur of the moment trip (there's an oxymoron), she has her luggage packed, her itinerary perfectly laid out, and her checklist of famous sites to see all written out.  Yep...the perfect trip from A to Z...too bad life doesn't always go according to plan (something she should already know) but sometimes those deviations are what make it truly worth living...and whew so THESE certainly qualify.  ^_^

The deviations in this story as in life bare many names and share a myriad of faces and spaces.  From the "Britsicles" who eventually thaw to a point of understanding to Zenia and her unending zest for life, they are a group of characters in both senses of the word.  Then there's the brothers.... ~swoon~.... Emerson and Thoreau.  Both connoisseurs of their chosen areas and both playing a game in which Gwen unwittingly is a key player.  Their charm goes far...their egos farther, but underneath the bravado and devil-may-care air beat the hearts of two fellows you'd love to know (and if you wouldn't, I would...so move over!  ^_^).  They quote their namesakes often and battle each other's wits constantly.  In short, they are quite the duo to tango with and Gwen's heart may be their intended partner.  What of her boyfriend-but-should-be fiancee-if-he-wasn't-chicken back in the states?  What about him indeed!  Gwen's sensibilities keep her in check...for now.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder...but only if it's been tended to in the first place.

Ah yes....I enjoyed the story whole-heartedly.  When Gwen really connected with the trip and the beauty surrounding her in both physical and mental presence....that's when her story really came to life.  Everything was that much richer, every detail that much brighter.  She was seeing things for the first time but REALLY seeing them and that realization radiated from the page through the author's words.  The time spent in verbal banter and mental chess moves (lots of math references) are amusing and you can't help but laugh out loud at their antics.  Just whose, I won't reveal...but trust me, it's a good match. 

In summary, take one part Tuscan sun with a life built from the ruins....shake violently and let the pieces fall where they may.  The end results may not be perfect, but they are perfectly enjoyable leaving a story that will resonate with both women achieving their dreams now as well as those barely able to glimpse it for the forest standing before them.  It's about life.  It's about love.  It's about taking the chances we are presented and making the most of the experience we gain.  It's about every one of us at one time or another and therefore allows us to see just what can happen when the other show drops without someone in place to catch it; sometimes it ends in a clatter....other times, it nets us a prince.

Recommended read for older teens through adult readers....it does get senseous a time or two but in a purely classy way.  A book I know I'll be recommending time and again...and hopefully, you will be too.  ARC for review courtesy of author Marilyn Brant and Kensington Books.  (THANKS!)  For more information regarding the author or the publisher, feel free to check out the links embedded in this post.  This book reached publication status December 2011 so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf near you.

Until next time...happy new year...and happy reading!

5 comments:

Melanie said...

I read According to Jane and really enjoyed it but have not picked up any other Brant novels. This one sounds cool, though, and I love books that manage to keep the sensuous moments classy.

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL about you blaming your deep words on Emerson and Thoreau's influence ;). GMR, I so loved your review... I know I told you that today already, but with the time and thought you put into writing this, I just wanted to say it again. Also, an extra thanks from me for selecting it as your first review of the year -- I couldn't be more honored!!

And, Melanie, I'm so glad you enjoyed According to Jane -- thank you very much for mentioning it! I do hope you'll like this new story as well.

Happy New Year to you both ;).

Alexia561 said...

Excellent review! And a great pick for first review of the year! Sounds right up my alley and I loved your enthusiasm! I've already added it to my wishlist, despite having waaaaaay too many books already....well, you DID warn me! ;)

Fairday Morrow said...

What a fantastic review! I haven't read anything by this author- but this book sounds great. I love the character names and the plot sounds interesting. Yep- I just added it to my list! Thanks for sharing!

~Jess
http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com

GMR said...

Melanie: YAY that you loved ACCORDING TO JANE! Me too. I think this one may be right up your alley. ^_^

Marilyn Brant: THANK YOU so much for stopping by! Huge smile now. Yes, those two left quite the impression...LOL. Happiest of New Year's to you as well...and congrats again on another fabulous release!

Alexia561: Enthusiasm? What enthusiasm? Just kidding. ^_^ Would LOVE to know what you think of it once you read it....

Fairday Morrow: Thanks! You should check out her work...good stuff.

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