Book Review: More Than Friends

review-cover-more than friends

Title: More Than Friends

Author: Barbara Delinsky

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The Maxwells and the Popes have been friends forever. The women were college roommates, their husbands are partners in the same law firm, their kids have grown up next door to each other, and the two families share both vacations and holidays.

Like Wisteria Lane, the “perfect” suburban street of Desperate Housewives, all is beautiful and serene — until an accident forces these close neighbors to look beneath the surface. And when their idyllic lives are unexpectedly shattered by a moment that can never be erased or forgotten, their faith in one another — and in themselves — is put to the supreme test.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had to stop and think a long time about what I was going to say about More Than Friends by Barbara Delinsky—a lot more time than I usually set aside to mull over a book. If you go into this book expecting to find a steamy, heartwarming romance… you aren’t going to find it. Classifying More Than Friends as a romance is a bit of a stretch. Yes, romance is a theme that runs throughout the book… but the book isn’t about romance. This is a story of heartbreak and tragedy… about what happens when people make more decisions that effect the lives of everyone around them. It’s about taking a hard look at your life and really deciding what you want it to be… not just taking the comfortable route. It’s also about betrayal, manipulation, and guilt. Conversely, it’s also about friendship, love, hope, and forgiveness.

Before we delve too deeply into the story of More Than Friends, let’s take a moment to talk about the technical: The book is incredibly well written. Barbara Delinsky has a way with characters that is sorely missed in a lot of the literature I read. Her characters are detailed and realistic, even fallible. Relationships are complex and at times, tenuous. The character’s voices, unique. The story was set up in such a way that I got sucked into the settings and situations without thinking twice. There were no grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors.

However, I’ll admit, the story was a little slow—and this is one of the main reasons I marked it down to 3 stars. As interesting and well written as the story was… it wasn’t terribly engaging. Sure, I cared about the characters. I wanted to see where the relationships would lead and if the problems would be resolved… but I wasn’t biting my nails, eagerly awaiting the next chapter. It’s not that the story was boring, but it lacked a sense of excitement that I’m used to in my usual book picks. I put the book down a handful of times. I didn’t throw it across the room. I didn’t wrinkle my nose and complain that nothing was happening… but I set it aside, sometimes for a day or two, and didn’t feel particularly swayed to pick it back up.

This was the second book I’ve read from this author, and both books I picked up from her just so happen to have similar themes… mostly concerning marriages in the midst of falling apart. Is this a running theme with her work? I don’t know. I haven’t read enough to say—but it isn’t my favorite theme for a romance novel. It lacked that high of a brand new relationship and the draw of steamy sex scenes that I’ve come to know and love in romance novels. Does that mean this was a bad book? No. It just wasn’t what I expected.

Overall, I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. I think if I’d expected to have this sort of deep read I would have enjoyed it. I was looking for a giggle-worthy romance, and that isn’t what I found by any means. That doesn’t mean it was any less well written though. If you like drama-filled family saga’s, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a fun romance book… you should probably look elsewhere. This one isn’t going to be for everyone, but I would certainly recommend the author to the right kind of audience. Her writing is excellent.

Book Review: Sweet Salt Air

review-cover-sweet salt air

Title: Sweet Salt Air

Author: Barbara Delinsky

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s family’s island house, but they have since grown apart. A successful travel writer, Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, lives in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole returns to the island house in order to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte for both sentimental and practical reasons. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole would like her help interviewing locals for her book. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees. But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding a secret that may change their relationship forever. Are the bonds of friendship strong enough to weather past indiscretions and betrayals? Can love survive an honest mistake? Filled with real, gut-wrenching emotion as well as a strong romantic storyline, Sweet Salt Air is a new offering from a beloved storyteller guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wish I had read this book sooner. I received a copy of Barbara Delinsky’s Sweet Salt Air from a giveaway nearly a year ago, and never having read the author, and not particularly taken in by the cover (which, by the way is gorgeous… just not the usual bodice-ripper cover I’m used to seeing on a romance themed novel), I set the book aside and didn’t take a second glance. I’m kind of face palming about it now.

I almost cannot put into words how deliciously well written this book was. The writing was clear, fluid, and easy to follow. I felt engaged right off the bat, and before I knew it, I was more than halfway through the book before I happened to look up from the narrative. There were a few typos involved, but let me make it clear that my copy of Sweet Salt Air was an ARC, and chances are that the typos (which were few and far between) were probably cleaned up for the final version.

Though this was indeed a romance, I think the main theme of this story was friendship. Charlotte and Nicole, though having spent more than a decade apart, were true friends in every sense of the words. They made mistakes—big mistakes—but in the end it didn’t matter. through betrayal, distance, time, and the stress of their lives, they continued to try and make peace with one another, and in the end I think their bond was stronger than ever. Their relationship was the type of relationship I think we all secretly want: forgiving, strong, and thankful. I loved every minute of the dynamics between the two friends.

Ms. Delinsky has a magical way of bringing her characters to life that is hard to come by in this day and age. Each voice was unique, and I fell in love with each character (though Leo was by far my favorite). They felt like real people to me, leading real lives, and combined with the rich setting of the island and small town atmosphere, I felt like I was in Quinnipeague along side them.

I absolutely refuse to spoil this book for anyone, so let me end it with this:  Would I read this book again? Hell yes. Would I recommend it? No question. I think anyone who loves a richly spun drama full of romance, betrayal and small town charm will love Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky. I highly recommend you give it a read.