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The Romance Reader's Guide to Life: A…
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The Romance Reader's Guide to Life: A Novel

by Sharon Pywell

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Showing 5 of 5
This was totally different from what I expected. It is part murder mystery, part magical realism, part contemporary romance, part historical romance, and some things I cannot name because I do not know how to name them.

From the beginning you know Lilly is dead. Neave, her sister, needs to know how. Much of the story is told through Neave's eyes but Lilly fills in her parts when it would clarify what is happening. Then you get Mr. Boppit's view. I liked Neave and Mr. Boppit (loved him actually) but Lilly should have been paddled and Neave would never have been put in danger.

As a young teen, Neave read for a neighbor lady and she "borrowed" a forbidden romance which is interspersed through the story. It parallels Neave's life and paves the way for her to grow into her life. She is stronger than she realizes and has talents she develops as they are needed.

I liked this book. It was different and fresh, not cliched. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Jun 17, 2018 |
I'm at a loss trying to blurb this book. It follows the life of Neave Terhune from her childhood during the Great Depression through to her life as an adult running a cosmetics company in the post-war years with her sister, Lilly. And while it's charming throughout, the book never quite settles on what it wants to be or what its central message is. Smattered throughout is the idea both that reading romance novels has made Neave a better person but also seduced her into believing in a world that doesn't exist and her desire for escapism could seriously harm her. There's a magical realism element that the author never quite gets a handle on and the resolution of which is almost non-existent. And while the novel seems to be saying that Neave is unique and perfect as she is, part of the defeat of the villain involves forcing Neave to adhere to a version of femininity she doesn't particularly care about and becoming more like her sister rather than being the direct and brusque personality she is. It's a real mash-up and I could see it having appeal for certain readers who enjoy historical fiction, literary style romances, or old school romances, but it wasn't quite the hit this reader was hoping for or thought it would be from the first 75ish pages. I do love the cover though. ( )
  MickyFine | Jun 5, 2018 |
Clever use of juxtaposing two stories, both of love, each containing elements of danger and darkness. One is the story of two sisters, one beautiful and passionate, the other rather bookish and more plain. While the elder one leads with the heart, and live a life of adventure and some peril, the younger sister is ruled by her head, but finds about love through a borrowed (one might say stolen) copy of a steamy romance called The Pirate Lover. This was a pretty gritty tale, well-told, and I am glad I read it, and that it didn't follow the normal damsel in peril to pirate path of the typical romance book. Also, this is an amazing cover, entirely why I picked it up, even if I was expecting something more like The Boyfriend School. ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 8, 2017 |
This was an awesome story. What attracted my attention was the cross dressing talking dog. I was very curious on how the author was going to conjoin a pirate romance novel, two sister's, a murder, and a cross dressing talking dog. I was pleasantly surprised that it could be done, and done very well. It a very enjoyable and quick read that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering where it is leading and then switch to what is going to happen next seamlessly. ( )
  marysneedle | May 25, 2017 |
This is a very entertaining novel that combines several genres: family saga, ghost story, and bodice-ripper romance.

The family saga focuses on Neave and Lilly, two sisters in a family living through World War II New England. Neave is the reader; Lilly the boy-hungry extrovert. Neave is introduced to the wonderful world of books by Mrs. Daniels, who pays Neave to read to her. Dazzled by the literary riches on Mrs. Daniels' shelves, Neave spots "The Pirate Lover" and sneaks it home to read in the cozy closet that she turns into her reading nook. Pywell interweaves the tale of the pirate story among the story of the two sisters.

The girls face hardships at home, with men, and with money, but they never lose their special sisterly connection. Lilly's sales acumen combines with Neave's head for money and they start their own cosmetics business.

The girls' personalities clash at times: Lilly's love of men causes her to make mistakes that Neave struggles to help her clean up, and Neave has no fashion sense, which Lilly tries to help her with. Their differences cause some strain and difficulties, but the heart of their relationship is tremendous love, respect, and loyalty for each other that sees them through the hard times.

Some of these hard times are yet to come when the book opens, and part of the mystery and conflict here involves a dead Lilly and a dead Mr. Boppit (Neave's childhood dog) who are trying, from the afterlife, to help Neave get through yet another problem caused by Lilly's relationship troubles.

The book switches points of view between the sisters (Lilly's story told from "where she is now" with Mr. Boppit, who for some odd reason is a cross-dressing sailor in the hereafter), so we get a sense of what life (and death) has been like for both of them, each in their different worlds.

The ghost story, such as it becomes, stretches credulity towards the end, when Lilly and Boppit try to become more involved in the events taking place on earth. Yet it provides a unique perspective on what the view from "the other side" is.

The pirate romance book, whose chapters are interspersed with the main story, remains a separate and detached story, until towards the end, when it begins to parallel and echo Neave's story more and more clearly. I like the way it becomes thematically intertwined with Neave's tale.

Thank you to the author and publishers for a review copy of this book. ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | Mar 14, 2017 |
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Left with few options when the end of World War II costs them their jobs, two sisters--one flirtatious, the other bookish--launch a makeup business that is upended when one of them disappears on what may be a romantic adventure on the high seas.

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