"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

Monday, July 14, 2014

True Love by Jude Deveraux

Just as Alix Madsen is finishing up architectural school, Adelaide Kingsley dies and wills her, for one year, the use of a charming nineteenth-century Nantucket house. The elderly woman’s relationship to the Madsen family is a mystery to Alix, who accepts the quirky bequest, in part because so she can plan her best friend’s storybook wedding. 

But Adelaide had a specific task for Alix: to solve the strange disappearance of one of the Kingsley women more than two centuries ago

If that wasnt troubling enough, Alix must contend with the arrogant (and extremely good looking) architect Jared Montgomery. The chemestry between them is undeniable. But Jared harbors secrets, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair. With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly,an ghosts reveal themselves , some of them literally. finding their lives entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that o nly by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together. 


My first thoughts while reading this book was that it had elements that reminded me of two movies I had seen - both that I love. The first one being The Proposal with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. In The Proposal, Ryan's character was from a town in Alaska. In that town, his family owned everything; the general store, the supermarket, gift shops, you name it, his family owned it. It was almost like he was a celebrity in town because everyone knew him and his family. This novel is set up that way when they introduce Alix to Nantucket. Everyone knows everyone, and most are family.

The next movie is Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer. This particular movie was very much like this novel in the sense that the main character was traveling to a house to become a governess. Not knowing exactly what drew her there just knowing that that's where she had to be. The town in the movie was called Collinsport and had a rich history with the Collins family, who (also) owned most of the town. What reminded me most about the novel was the house; both the novel, and the movie had a really old house that held a lot of mystery.

I really liked that even though the book is set in recent times, there's an old school flare to it. The way that Nantucket is explained makes you feel like you have seen it before. Deveraux's style of writing and details leave you with the urge to travel to Nantucket just to feel the old textures of structures to see if they match her descriptions.

There were also a lot of intriguing moments. Things that kept the story from being monotonous and similar to other books. I appreciated that. There is romance, mystery, comedy, and even a hint of paranormal! I loved it all. I like Ghosts in stories and the fact that there was one very prominent ghost really kept me entertained. His name is Captain Caleb and he was very well executed. I loved his character, he was able to do impossible things.

Although all of the characters were well written and interesting, there was one particular character I didn't care for as much. Her name is Victoria and she is the main character's (Alix) mom. While all of the other characters were lovely in temperament, I found her to be overly gaudy, a little rude at points, nosy and kind of selfish. I guess every story has to have one of those characters in it. I will say, though, that just because I feel she is those things, it doesn't make her an antagonist in the story. She does actually have a heart, underneath all the money and fame and bougie attitude.

I liked Alix because she is even tempered despite her mother. Probably because her father was very mild tempered. Alix, on her way to become an Architect, took a trip to Nantucket as a way to relax and take an extended vacation. When she and her friend Izzy arrive to Nantucket, it was like a light switch was turned on in Alix's head and she suddenly remembered everything about this place that she was unsure she even should know. When she entered the Kingsley house it was like she arrived home. Even though she felt unsure about was about spending a whole year in someone else's home house sitting, she found ways that she decided would make living there bearable. For example, it was the perfect opportunity for her to get to her designs and work on her portfolio for when she would start looking for jobs. Also, she thought it would be the best place to set up her best friend's wedding.

Funny what happens though as her and Izzy are walking down the street one of those first days. They see the famous and handsome Jared Montgomery, a mega architect that both Izzy and Alix have studied their whole college career, and they think to themselves, "what are the odds?" Imagine both girls's surprise when they realize that the old house and the resident of it, Jared Kingsley, and the famous architect, are one and the same! It leaves Alix feeling nervous and excited all at once.

Izzy leaves shortly thereafter to return to her fiance, leaving Alix alone with the wondrous man, a mystery she had yet to even know was upon her, and a years worth of getting used to a new place...although that last part she had actually accomplished the minute she entered Kingsley House.

Jared Montgomery Kingsley - I find it important to put his whole name out there because it sounds so regal, so strong. I love his character because he is so hard when you are introduced to him. He wasn't happy about having Alix there for a year. He wasn't so keen about having someone he didn't know perusing the house while he twiddled his thumbs for a whole 12 months. Knowing that she was an architect major, right out of college had him running for the hills as he contemplated a full year of questions and googly eyes. He didn't want someone worshiping him or looking up to him, making him seem better than he was. He was also very skeptical that Alix, someone who hadn't even been there since she was four years old, would be able to find out the mysterious disappearance of Captain Caleb's love, Valentina.With all of these feelings in tow, he decided he would leave to New York and spend the year working and getting his mind off of the situation.

Not knowing that Alix had arrived a few days earlier, the two happen to meet and get acquainted. It was a surprise meeting for them both in the kitchen. Jared, astounded that Alix had been there a few days but knew where everything in the house was, tried to keep his cool around her, treaded with caution when speaking of his identity, or of anything that would make him seem that he was cool with the situation. Alix sensed this and was equally as careful, not wanting to seem like she knew who he was or do anything that would ruin the moment.

I like how they met. I imagined it as two people inside an elastic band, slowly backing up in opposite directions...the pull getting stronger and stronger despite the distance between them. I like how Deveraux made it so that the attraction was there at the very moment they met, but there was a lot to be done before they could actually fall in love. It felt like I had to work for the juice in this story. I also liked that there is a big age difference between the two main characters. Alix being 26 and Jared being 40. It adds a sensuality to Jared for me, I have always been intrigued by older men.

It was good to see that all of the characters in this book were very prominent. While reading, it was as if every character was the main character for a segment. It left me curious as to who would actually be the star of the plot. It kept me guessing, and kept me wondering. Captain Caleb was an amazing character; a two hundred year old ghost, but very alive in his own way. He was a sailor, so he has that brash demeanor. He had me smiling a lot because he and Alix had a bond, even though she could not see him. She would talk to his portrait and in one event, she thought she felt a light kiss on the cheek while conversing with him. Not really understanding that he was a real ghost, she kind of thought it was just her imagination. Every time Caleb would appear in the book, I had a spooky feeling, like the scene was surreal. He would talk to Jared normally, his multi great grandson, and it was said that all the men in the family could see him but were not allowed to tell the women of the family...though some of the women could see him too. I found how he became a ghost, very romantic and tragic, though I won't divulge any of that as I feel it's a great part of the book. The one thing I will say is that the importance of finding Valentina before the year is up was crucial because Captain Caleb was set to leave the world on the date Alix set for her best friend's wedding.

To bring it back to Alix and Jared, they found a way to work together without him having to leave or her making herself scarce by staying out of his way. Once established that she did in fact know who he was, they were able to side step the awkward moments and actually focus on something they both understood - structural designs. I know it doesn't sound romantic, it almost sounds nerdy, but in between all the working, where he finds her skills brilliant, they have stolen glances, dinners together and eventually, they wind up exactly where they should be. In bed and in love. Although it seems almost perfect, their relationship is far from safe. Jared has been forced to keep secrets that could both end their romance and ruin her relationship with her family.

Reading this novel gave me such a rush. I love how many turns there were, I loved that despite the plot turns the romance seemed so natural, so "now-a-days" where the sex comes first, but there's no crime to that. I loved how it was written and how rich the family history was that left me wondering if she would write more books about what happened in the past. It was my favorite read thus far and I can't wait to read the next installment of this trilogy, For All Time which actually just released. Stay tuned!

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