LOVE BY THE BOOK
A sweeping love story set in a lavish seaside mansion in 1901 Rhode Island.
Melinda Hollister is a society lady, intent on finding a rich husband before her peers discover he quickly diminishing wealth. Nick Bryson is all business, focused on making a name for himself in his father's steamship line. Despite the marriage of their siblings, they rarely gave each other a second glance -- until a tragic accident results in Melinda and Nick being appointed as co-guardians of their three-year-old daughter.
In order to get better acquainted with Nell and one another, Melinda and Nick agree to spend the summer in their own private quarters of the Bryson family vacation home, Summerhill. As their love for Nell grows, so does their attraction to each other. And for the first time in their lives, they sense that God has a bigger plan in motion.
Yet old habits die hard -- and Melinda and Nick each find it difficult to resist the pull of their former worlds.
When the unthinkable happens, they find themselves faced with seemingly impossible choices and a new understanding of God's true love.
This is my favourite of the Ladies of Sumerhill series. I am by turns fascinated and appalled by the Gilded Age -- the opulent wealth, the snobbery, the sheer shallowness of the society -- and James writes that era so well. But she gives it a heart through her cleverly casted characters.
Melinda intrigued me the most. She grows from a product of that society into a young woman of promise. And it's that growth that gives this novel substance. Melinda has enough endearing qualities -- love for the Lord, the ability to acknowledge her weaknesses, a willing heart for change all combined with an exuberance for life -- that helped me identify with her despite her shallow pursuits at the beginning of the book. After all, she has been a product of her upbringing and has known little else. I loved watching her question society's standards, take on a mothering role to her niece and delve into bible discussions with her missionary friend , all of which prompted her to slowly make the changes in her life that lead to maturity. She really does grow from girl to womanhood in these pages. And it's a rewarding read.
By contrast, Nick is staid and steady, dedicated to business and family, though he has trouble juggling the two. He's constantly in a battle of wills with his father and that makes him all the more serious. He definitely needs someone like Melinda to brighten up his life. Of course he doesn't realize it at first! Just as she doesn't realize that some of Nick's 'stuffiness' would be a good counterbalance to her frivolity.
James weaves a heart-warming tale that has some surprisingly suspenseful twists but all ends well in a happily-ever-after.
If you would like to win a copy of Love By the Book by Cara Lynn James, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Draw will be held on Sunday August 28. Open internationally.