For the last couple of nights, I’ve been staying up late, cozy under my covers, “clicking” page after page on my Kindle as I read.
And the book that’s keeping me up is Laura Kinsdale’s The Shadow and the Star.
I fell in love with Laura Kinsdale when I first read Flowers From the Storm a few years ago. I chose that book because it’s consistently voted one of the top three romance novels of all time on AAR’s Top Romance list. (Of course, who can resist that? I had to see what it was about!)
I read it (along with the other two books in the top three), and I have to say, they were all excellent. But Laura Kinsdale really stood out. Her writing is outstanding — leaning much more into literary writing, with stripped descriptions, interesting characterization, and strange historical tidbits that she delivers in just the right doses. Flowers From the Storm won me over when I realized the hero was a man who had had a stroke — Only Laura Kinsdale could make a stroke victim super-sexy! (Now that takes talent!) The time period she chose was interesting too, since they didn’t even know what a stroke was — in fact, the character ends up in a mental institution. (When the heroine gets him out of the mental institution, their story begins.)
After I read that one, I wanted more. I read about five more Kinsdale books, and enjoyed them all. Each is so different than the last — she’s definitely not one to fall into predictability. But what I most enjoy about her books is that her heroes are so tortured. You have no idea how they’re going to come out “heroes” by the end of the book, but you always fall in love with them. She’s so good at that. In addition to her stroke victim, she had a hero who was a renegade horse thief (who hangs out with a wolf), and I couldn’t figure out how she was going to redeem him, either, but she did. Remarkable.
The Shadow and the Star is one of her older books, and is also on AAR’s Top Romance list, and I’d always wanted to read it, but — believe it or not — I could never find it in a book store! I’d look for it, not find it, get distracted by looking at Lisa Kleypas books (shelved nearby), and then would move on and forget. Nearly a year later, I finally thought, Hey, now I can buy it on the Kindle! So after I finished my first Kindle book, I bought this elusive Laura Kinsdale. And I’m so glad I did.
It’s been a long time since a book has kept me up turning pages. The hero is from Hawaii in the 1870s, though the story takes place in England. (Just the concept of Hawaii in the 1870s is interesting, and the English people’s reaction.) Another reason this book is unique is that she writes in the classic back-and-forth between hero and heroine’s POV (chapter to chapter), but the hero’s story is in the past tense for the first half of the book. Different. Every other chapter, you’re hearing how he was raised, what happened to him as a boy, how he was trained by a Japanese butler to fight, etc., but Kinsdale feeds you just enough info to put more context to the “present-day” plot as it rolls along. It’s masterful how she doles out the details — giving you just enough to tease you into some new awareness, so you’re putting the details together as you go.
Anyway, if you’re into historical romances, and you haven’t read Laura Kinsdale, read Flowers from the Storm and The Shadow and the Star. Both are great! And tap in below and tell me what you thought.
I also updated my Currently Reading page last night with other books I read recently — one was Zac Bissonnette’s Debt-Free U, a great book if you have a child going to college! 🙂 And I read Hooked by Les Edgerton, a how-to about writing the first sentences of your book to “hook” your readers.
How about you — Have you read any Laura Kinsdale? Is there another writer you stumbled across, then had to go read his or her entire backlist? 🙂