Book #2 – Friday Harbor Genres: Magical Realism, Contemporary Romance
D.G.’s Rating – 4 skulls: B+
The Friday Harbor series is Lisa Kleypas first foray into magical realism, a fiction genre in which magical elements blend with the real world. The genre originated in Latin America – see Like Water of Chocolate or One Hundred Years of Solitude – but with the popularity of the paranormal and fantasy elements in romance in recent years, some American authors - Sarah Addison Allen comes to mind – have added a helping of magical realism to their contemporary romance. Ms. Kleypas is now following suit.
The first book in this series “Christmas Eve in Friday Harbor” was too subtle to be considered magical realism but in Rainshadow Road, Ms. Kleypas embraced the elements of the genre. There are fantastical occurrences without explanation, wonderful language and imagery that gives you an enchanted vibe almost as if you were in a fairy tale. The characters live in the real world with cellphones and cars but the magic is subtle and wondrous, a reflection of the characters’ themselves, their feelings and personalities. Like the mysterious vine in Sam’s property that is “alive but not flourishing”, so closed up to all the outside influences that it doesn’t let anything or anybody touch it. I won’t spoil it for you and let you know who’s this supposed to be.
The storyline was pretty simple as romances go: the hero is a commitment phobe with a bad childhood, the heroine’s boyfriend left her for her sister. They are attracted to each other but Lucy is understandably leery of starting a relationship with no future and Sam doesn’t want to hurt her. But circumstances bring them together and before you know it, they are involved.
The description gives the impression that the conflict will be centered about a stupid misunderstanding but don’t fear this will be the case. These characters act like adults (at least the ‘good ones’ do) and don’t play silly games. Family plays a big role for both main characters, specially because they’ve both had to deal with the heartbreak and disappointment that only somebody really close to you can inflict. However, the story is light and hopeful. You will definitively not be depressed at the end.
The ‘bad characters’ (Kevin, the cheating boyfriend and Alice, the sister) were a bit two-dimensional. It was difficult to understand why they betrayed Lucy, given the way their relationship unfolded. It just didn’t seem to make sense to go through all the trouble. I have the impression that Alice will be a future heroine (she’s definitely messed up enough) and Ms. Kleypas loves to redeem villains (see Devil in Winter).
This book is the perfect introduction for lovers of paranormal romance who want to try contemporary romance and viceversa. It has enough fantasy to add an extra dimension to the story but not so much that it’s completely unreal.
Series Reading Order:
1. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
2. Rainshadow Road
3. Dream Lake
4. Crystal Cove (to be published in 2013)
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