where love lies book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Publishing is heavily dependent on ‘what the other guy does’. If a certain theme from one of them is successful, then all of a sudden, they all want one ‘like that.’  This year’s theme seems to be a single Mom raising a young daughter, with no Dad anywhere to be found. Not even his identity. This leaves the daughter with a major gap in her history and even herself. True, some adjust better than others. Frequently Mom is an artist of some variety–otherwise known as a ‘free spirit’. Mom and daughter move a lot, maybe every year or so. With no roots and no stability, it’s hardly any wonder that so many of these daughters end up as a neurotic basket-case.

Where Love Lies was published in the UK last year, and apparently deserved an additional debut in the US. I do realize that life in the UK is vastly different from our lives in the US, and I try to make allowances for that in my reading. However, at times, it seems an insurmountable task, especially when too many of the characters don’t seem to have a clue as to what they really want to be, or to have. Another problem comes with multiple viewpoints throughout the story, mostly in first person, so one is continually visiting yet a different head!

I should have realized when I read that the author wanted to write a novel with ‘an unreliable narrator’ that we wouldn’t always stay on the familiar path. On the other hand, I do occasionally like unplanned detours (in pleasant weather) so I gave it a go.

Briefly, Felicity is approaching the first anniversary of her mostly idyllic marriage to Quinn. She is an artist-illustrator/writer of children’s books and he is the editor of the small-town paper that serves the community in which they live. Felicity was an only child, never knew who was her father, and her somewhat elderly mother has passed away in the near past. Quinn, however, has rather pushy parents (especially his Mum) who want to be included in everything. His sister is a bit more willing to give them some space, but still, Felicity feels crowded.

Quinn wants to give her everything he thinks she should love or want, but he doesn’t always check with her first, and one of these ’gifts’ – a trip to the US — triggers memories that cause an overload of emotions in Felicity’s memory and thoughts. Suddenly, she smells frangipani flowers and this brings back a visual memory of her first love, Ewan, from ten years ago.

When they return to the UK and home, she announces that she wants a separation from Quinn and the information devastates the poor man. No matter what she does or where she goes, or whom she sees, Quinn loves her–unconditionally. Even if what she thinks she wants is Ewan.

However, there is a real medical reason for Felicity’s distress, and she must make a serious decision about treatment–perhaps the most serious decision of her life. Eventually, everything does seem to work itself out, but not without a great deal of angst for everyone.

Without question, the book is well-written, and the plot is breath-taking in its inventiveness. The characters are totally not your ordinary cookie-cutter type folks. Nosiree! I’m quite certain I’ll be in the minority of readers when I say I couldn’t quite get into it, but even so, I do realize there are readers who will think this one of the best books they’ve ever read. It’s just that I prefer a bit more straightforwardness in the books I read for enjoyment. I did learn a good bit about the medical condition that has so afflicted Felicity, and that’s definitely a plus for me, as well.

I mean no insult of any kind when I say that perhaps readers who enjoy fantasy novels might enjoy this more than I did. My disbelief just doesn’t always suspend that far.

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First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.