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The Romance Reader's Guide to Life: A…

The Romance Reader's Guide to Life: A Novel

by Sharon Pywell

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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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"As a young girl, Neave was often stuck in a world that didn't know what to do with her. As her mother not unkindly told her, she was never going to grow up to be a great beauty. Her glamorous sister, Lilly, moved easily through the world, a parade of handsome men in pursuit. Her brother didn't want a girl joining his group of friends. And their small town of Lynn, Massachusetts, didn't have a place for a girl whose feelings often put her at war with the world -- often this meant her mother, her brother, and the town librarian who wanted to keep her away from the Dangerous Books she really wanted to read. But through an unexpected friendship, Neave finds herself with a forbidden copy of The Pirate Lover, a steamy romance, and Neave discovers a world of passion, love, and betrayal. And it is to this world that as a grown up she retreats to again and again when real life becomes too much. Neave finds herself rereading The Pirate Lover more than she ever would have expected because as she gets older, life does not follow the romances she gobbled up as a child. When Neave and Lilly are about to realize their professional dream, Lilly suddenly disappears. Neave must put her beloved books down and take center stage, something she has been running from her entire life. And she must figure out what happened to Lilly -- and if she's next. Who Neave turns to help her makes Sharon Pywell's The Romance Reader's Guide to Life one of the most original, entertaining, exciting, and chilling novels you will read this year."--Dust jacket.… (more)

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