Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer of Two Wishes, by Julia London - Review

The Facts:
Release Date: Today! (Aug 18, 2009)
Publisher: Pocket
Page Count: 401
Series: appears to be #1 of a new series.
Misc: Book club guide in back, themed recipes from the author.
Julia London's Website
Buy It!

Short Answer:
Very enjoyable, great characters, sweet and romantic. This one is a multiple-tissue read.

Same As Hint of Wicked?
OK, so. Same set up, right? War widow remarries, soldier husband returns, what should she do? Two Wishes is a contemporary, with a US soldier returning from Afghanistan to Texas, versus a Regency Napoleonic vet returning to Jolly Old England.

The parallels in the heroine's dilemma are striking. She's a little afraid of her first husband, that his experiences have changed him beyond her knowing. She's guilty and remorseful about abandoning his memory, though she knows rationally that it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, given the evidence: Sophie threw significant resources at an exhaustive personal search for Garrett, while Macy receives Finn's dogtags and is told there was DNA evidence of his death.

And yet both women refuse to leave their second husbands out of hand. These are good men, for neither heroine is TSTL and they've got good taste. Both women withdraw from the situation and take the time they need to process their feelings.

Both books even have a rather weak subplot to help move through the last quarter or so of the book, after the heroine has made up her mind, but to heighten the drama-- and perhaps the page count. Which I actually don't mind too much, because it's always nice to see the HEA couple in action under duress, and in both cases it helped resolve the situation for the odd man out.

Only Different, Because...
The sex is plenty hot in Two Wishes, but somehow it's a sweeter story; maybe it's the down-home setting of the small town and the cast of gossipy secondary characters that might put you in mind of this:

(I love how she says "BALLLLLL-zac!")


Sorry, was that distracting? You're welcome for the earworm. Where was I? Right, secondary characters --

Secondary characters were a little hit and miss. I particularly liked Milo (the dog who must be very confused by now), Laru (the helpful and freespirited aunt), Linda Gail (one of those fabulous admin assistants that also frets about the boss) and Karen (the MIL from hell but you can't help feeling for her). (Sorry for all the parenthesis).

There were another half a dozen or so that didn't quite hit the mark for me -- the sister seemed unnecessary, the mother and best friend were cardboardy and others weren't even important enough to be secondary. Tertiary, maybe. The author's website mentions that it's the beginning of a series, so my money's on clumsier-than-you'd-expect sequel-baiting.

Of course, the twists and turns that the two books take are different and appropriate for the time. While London ratchets up the tension with a seriously Excruciating Turn, she also telegraphs the "winner" in the triangle far more obviously than Haymore. The ending isn't really going to surprise you, but the getting-there is a great ride, with all the drama and romance you could want.

The Zing
Although I thought one character was a little all over the map, I could see how maybe that would be the case given the circumstances. At times I thought all three characters were behaving pretty immaturely, and I liked how London brought them all through their respective arcs. You'll find the epiphany involving the hippy quoting 1970's airbrushed T-shirts everywhere either deeply touching (probably not), tongue-in-cheek ironic (maybe) or eye-rollingly silly (also maybe). Personally, I'm undecided between options b & c.

But the main thing is, London built up the romance between the HEA couple and made it irresistible. Irresistible: I'll say it twice. It was painful and sweet and then *really* painful and then sweet again and they are a couple you will pull for and cry with and cheer on.

All in all, a perfect read to cap off the summer, whether that means the beach, a backyard hammock with a pitcher of lemonade, or tucked in a comfy chair in the a/c (heh).

The Blog Tour
For other takes on the book, check out the tour, one-day only!

My Book Views
Book Soulmates
A Journey of Books
Just Jennifer Reading
All About {n}
My Guilty Pleasures
Bookin’ with Bingo
Starting Fresh
Booksie’s Blog
The Tome Traveller
Cheryl’s Book Nook
Bella’s Novella
Frugal Plus
Eclectic Book Lover
One Person’s Journey Through A World Of Books
Foreign Circus Library
My Own Little Corner of the World
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Seductive Musings
Bibliophiles ‘R Us

Park Avenue Princess
Power in the Blog
Books and Needlepoint


Kaetrin said...

I read a snippet about this book in a catalogue I receive from my favourite interstate romance bookstore and it was actually quite negative - from memory it suggested that it was too melodramatic and not very romantic (which from a bookseller was a big surprise for me) - But, from your review, it seems like the exact opposite! I'll have to check this out some more I think...

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I just received this in the mail for the tour. Glad I read this - I didnt realize the tour was this Friday.

I have not read Hint of Wicked so I am entering this book with no others I have read like it.

Thanks for the review! :)

Carolyn Crane said...

Wow, a one day blog tour. Interesting!

Anyway, thanks for the review, and OMG, London must have been mortified when A HINT came out, because this book, of course, would have already been deep in the pipeline. This sounds like a great read, though. I like that the final choice would get telegraphed earlier. Hmm, maybe I need to read this!!!

Anonymous said...

I think I'd like to read this BECAUSE I've read the Haymore, and because you liked it, naturally. Great review!

(I resisted hitting play. Self control, I haz it.)

Nicola O. said...

Kaetrin - hmm, too melodramatic? I really wouldn't say so. I mean, nobody got tied to railroad tracks or anything... ;-)

Sheila, oops, I'm pretty sure the tour for Two Wishes is today. Better get reading....

CJ - it's interesting what two different authors can do with the same premise, and it's so different when you change the period. Now we just need one when the soldier returns from war 20 years later as an immortal vampire... wouldn't THAT be a dilemma!

Jessica, thanks for the compliment, and I agree -- it's fun to read the two different versions. "Compare and Contrast," as certain English teachers in my past might say. (And I'm not sure I believe that you didn't hit play. How can you resist? "Pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep!"

Heloise said...

Why does my skin crawl at the thought of three characters in a romance? Too much exposure to the love triangle in the '80's? Being on the losing end of one in college? I suppose that's one for my therapist to figure out! :)

Nice review and song. :)

Armenia said...

Thanks for the heads up for the tissue box. Gutsy and straight-to-the-point review. Can't wait to read this one.

kalea_kane said...

WOW.You had one of the most interesting reviews. I liked the way you broke it up. Of course I have really enjoyed all the reviews. I know this is a book I can sink my teeth into! I better go buy some tissues.

kalea_kane said...

WOW.You had one of the most interesting reviews. I liked the way you broke it up. Of course I have really enjoyed all the reviews. I know this is a book I can sink my teeth into! I better go buy some tissues.


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