Sunday, April 19, 2015

Second Chances - Why I Love Reunion #Romance #amreading #amwriting

There's something special about first love--sharing that initial terrifying plunge into vulnerability, experiencing a roller coaster of intense emotions, and linking your fate to another person's, even if only for a brief time.  The saying may be cliche, but I truly believe most people "never forget their first love".

Of course, by definition, first love usually happens when we're young.  And the young are usually eager to try new things, travel new paths, seek new challenges...and so that fragile first relationship doesn't often last.  Sometimes feelings just fade, sometimes distance creates complications, sometimes mistakes are made or promises broken.  Even if that first love was not the right longterm partner, the experience usually leaves a lasting impression.

Sometimes, that first love IS the right person.  That's how it happened for my best friend in my neighborhood - she and her husband were high school sweethearts who parted ways when he left for the military and she stayed in their hometown.  Years later, one chance meeting at a New Year's Eve party was all it took, and now they've been happily married for 22 years.

Since I love the idea of a second chance at first love, most of my novels are based on two former lovers reunited - "reunion romances".  In Silver Lake, the best friends who never quite got their chance in high school are reunited in a final attempt to solve the mystery of their friend Brandy's disappearance.  In Gull Harbor, a psychic medium arrives in a sleepy seaside town to go to battle with an aggressive ghost...and she's shocked to also encounter the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her the day after college graduation.  In Haunted Souls...well, I can't go into that one yet, since it's out on submission.  My characters have a past, and despite the chemistry that lingers between them, the betrayals and secrets create enormous obstacles in their journey to reconciliation and romance.

I'm also drawn to the reunited lovers theme as a reader, so I thought I'd make a few recommendations of my favorites over the years.  Bear in mind, not all of the following books fit into the Romance genre--the definition of Romance includes a Happy Ever After for the main characters--so I'll note the genres as well.

Madeleine's Ghost combines
elements I love - reunion
romance, ghost story, mystery,
history, and a New Orleans setting.
Madeleine's Ghost by Robert Girardi - one of my favorite books, because it combines a reunion romance with a mysterious haunting...those are the elements I use in my novels to create plenty of tension and intrigue. Madeleine's Ghost is considered literary fiction, which is a bit of a catch-all genre encompassing beautifully written books that don't fall neatly into other categories.  But to me, this is a captivating mix of romance, history, and the paranormal.  The timeline moves between past and present, revealing the layers that make the characters come alive.  The descriptions of both New York City and New Orleans were so vivid I felt like I was there...and I enjoyed every minute spent traveling between the gritty East Village and the steamy bayous of Louisiana, keeping my fingers crossed for Antoinette and Ned.

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (first in the Tea Rose Trilogy).  A sweeping historical fiction, set in East London in 1888, during the time of Jack the Ripper's reign of terror.  The story begins in the tough, poverty stricken neighborhoods of Whitechapel and moves to New York City as the main character, Fiona, tries to escape the tragedies of her past and begin a new life.  But she cannot forget Joe, her boy who broke her heart...and when she returns to London to seek her revenge, she'll confront her soul-mate once again.  I enjoyed the other two books in the series as well (As an aside, the couple portrayed the next book, The Winter Rose, made my "Favorite Fictional Couples" blogpost).
The Bronze Horseman
and Tatiana & Alexander
are titles I always

The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander (first two books in The Bronze Horseman Trilogy) by Paullina Simons.  It's difficult to put into words how much I loved these two historical romance novels.  I admit I had a few doubts when I began the first book--WWII-era Leningrad does not seem like the most romantic setting, and in fact, the things that happened once the Soviet Union entered the war were downright horrific.  But throughout the years, the struggle, and the horror, Tatiana and Alexander hold on to their love, even when separated.  My heart ached for what these characters went through, and Simons captures the brutal history with amazing accuracy while still delivering a poignant--and often steamy--love story.  These books made my "Favorite Reads of 2013" blogpost.  One additional note, though...while I constantly recommend the first two books to friends, I didn't enjoy the third book in the series.  The ending of Tatiana and Alexander is perfect and I wish I had stopped there.

Blue Bayou (First in The Callahan Brothers Trilogy) by JoAnn Ross.  Bad boy Jack returns to his hometown to find his teenage love, Danielle, has also decided to make a life for herself back in Blue Bayou after the death of her husband.  The young lovers were torn apart once by tragedy, and past and present collide as secrets are revealed and connections are discovered, and this romantic suspense/contemporary romance is an entertaining beach read with a hot alpha hero who whispers Cajun terms of endearment.  I enjoyed the other two books in the series as well.

Spencerville by Nelson DeMille.  A lot of DeMille fans don't care for this one, probably because it's heavy on romance.  Yes, a reunion romance, as an ex-CIA agent returns to his small hometown to find out what happened to "the one that got away" - his old high school girlfriend.  The answer is: nothing good.  This is sort of a romance thriller that I absolutely loved, but I will caution readers that there is a lot more graphic violence and disturbing scenes than in a traditional romance.  But I enjoy all genres, and this combination produced a real page-turner for me.

A dangerous ghost &
an ex-boyfriend await
Claire in Cape Cod's
Gull Harbor...
Those are some of my favorites, along with my first two novels!  Gull Harbor is on sale right now for 99 cents, so if you like reunion romances, suspenseful mysteries, or ghost stories, or all of the above, try it out for less than a buck on Kindle or Nook!  And don't forget to leave me a comment listing your favorite reunion romances, so I can add to my ever-growing TBR list :)  Happy reading!

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