Sunday, 26 April 2015

Skylark


Author: Ruthie Morgan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: e-book
Print Length: 449 pages
Source: directly from author
Publisher: Ruthie Morgan
First Published: July 2014
First Line: "The keyboard gleams as she poises herself on the edge of the seat, hands hovering, ready to transcribe the key paragraph she knows must come soon."

Book Description from GoodReads"When he asked me to forgive him for everything I thought I could. I said yes and I meant it. But I didn't realise that night, everything was what he'd take away." When Billie May Worthington falls for Evan Skylark she believes she'd do anything, be anything and give everything for him. But can she forgive him when he asks for her world? 

Everything twenty one year old Billie knows about life, love, beauty and art are challenged after graduation when she meets Evan, an enigmatic Irish artist with a dark side. Suddenly immersed in Evan's intense world of artistic brilliance, flying sculptures and sexual obsession, Billie's carefully planned future is quickly unrecognisable. Spanning London, Paris, Scotland and finally St. Cloud, the South Pacific island they make their home, the young couple chase Evans dreams and run from their past. But what happens to young obsessive love when unplanned pregnancy reshapes the future? As Billie struggles to cope with the demands of motherhood Evan is forced to deal with the repercussions of a previous mistake that rock their world altering the future forever. 

Emotionally gripping and darkly humorous Skylark is an unconventional love story. A novel about what we do for love, of beauty in imperfection, betrayal and the weight of obsession.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Ruthie Morgan for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  My devoted blog readers know that I am not a big romance reader. I have a heart (trust me) but in the past I've found the books that I've read from this genre brimming with one-dimensional, unbelievable characters with their cheesy, raunchy love life put well before the plot.  

Thankfully author Ruthie Morgan has written a very different kind of romance novel.

This is Morgan's first book and it is impressive. Her wonderful humour shines through in the dialogue and her prose struck me immediately as being much more developed and engaging than I would expect for a first time author.  But it's her detailed and intricate characters that hooked me.

Billie and Evan were so believably human -- love, flaws, demons and all. What impressed me was that there were several aspects of both of them that I loved and others that I absolutely hated.  You know you're sucked into a story when you want to shake the character for making such a stupid decision.  It was sad and frustrating to see how much Billie sacrificed to be with Evan.  How she continued to give and wait for him only to be repeatedly let down.  It was all cut and dry for me until we start to see Evan's side of things.  

I didn't like Evan.  He's not someone who'd I'd be drawn to personally.  Sure he's enigmatic and devoted to Billie (in his own way) but his actions spoke louder to me.  I thought he was self-centred, dark, volatile, moody and an absentee husband and father.  I hated many of his choices but, as the book progressed, I also saw how and why he came to make those decisions.  He was a tormented soul and I felt for him and even found myself supporting his side during some marital spats.  I wasn't expecting that. 

Not surprisingly I easily related to Billie as a mother.  Her need to connect with others, her fears of being able to raise her children well and the time, emotion and energy it takes to care for young children.  I felt bad that she was so alone in her marriage and, if I'm being honest, many times throughout the book I wanted her to take the kids and leave Evan.  But she also had her own issues to deal with and some of her decisions I didn't like. I wanted her to be stronger. I wanted her to stand up to Evan and not give in just because she loved him. I wanted her to stop enabling him and get him the help he so obviously needed.  

I'm impressed that Moran got me to see both sides of Billie and Evan.  She was able to balance the good and bad aspects of both of them and make me support each of them at different points in the story.  Their love was imperfect, messy and very complicated but you got the sense that it was real.  As with many romances there were several sex scenes in the book and instead of being written for shock/raunchiness (aka the 'Fifty Shades Factor') they instead show the deep connection and tenderness between Billie and Evan.

Even the secondary characters and the vivid descriptions of St Cloud were well fleshed out and vividly described.  You felt like you could easily imagine a typical day on the island.  No one (except perhaps for a spectacularly evil woman) is one-dimensional.  They all felt authentic and added to the story line and sense of community on St Cloud.

The only beef I had with the book (and it's but a wee 'moo') was that in a few spots I felt like the pace got a little bogged down in the details.  I found myself wanting to get back to the story instead of hearing about life on a Scottish farm or what songs everyone sang at karoke.  But again, these lags were far and few between.

Towards the end, Morgan kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how I wanted it to end.  Did I want Billie and Evan's relationship to self-destruct so Billie could move on?  Did I want them to stick it out?  In the end, I was surprisingly happy and sad with how things ended.

Skylark is a modern love story about two people whose love began quickly. Unfortunately they weren't ready for what life was going to throw at them nor the consequences of their actions. It is a realistic, romantic and tragic love story.  

It's emotional, raw and I loved it.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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