Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

As a member of ACFW, I occasionally answer the call to "influence" for new releases by other members of the group.  I have a growing pile of "influencer copies" on the bookshelf next to my desk. So this is the first in a (hopefully) long list of reviews.

From the Cover:
Sassy Evans and Perty Bradley are determined to get their older grandchildren married off, but when twenty-eight-year-old Dylan comes home after being fired from his teaching position because of the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend, Perty knows her grandson has more important issues to deal with first.
Sassy understands her friend’s reservations about timing, but she also sees so many ways in which Dylan would be the perfect match for her thirty-four-year-old granddaughter Caylor. With his record of acclaimed paintings and Caylor’s bestselling novels, they could complement each other’s talents and provide each other support and encouragement. And there’s no denying the spark of attraction between the English professor with the untamed red hair and the painter with the unusual tattoos.
But neither grandmother realizes the secrets both Caylor and Dylan are keeping from each other, Will pain and embarrassment from the past keep Caylor and Dylan apart, or will they develop the courage to be truthful with each other and discover the true art of romance?

My Thoughts:
This was the first novel I ever read by Kaye Dacus.  It has inspired me to keep my eye out for more. The Art of Romance is the second book in Ms. Dacus’s “The Matchmakers” series.  Since I’ve never read the first book, Love Remains, I was glad to find this one is not stuffed full of references to the first story. The references are there, and they are enough to satisfy readers who are familiar with the first story without alienating new readers like me.

If I had to use one word to describe this novel, I would use, “Refreshing.” Here are a few reasons why:

·         Spunky Grandma – I laughed out loud at this, “The sugary, cinnamony, spicy aroma of baking treats wrapped around Caylor as soon as she opened the kitchen door—though the loud music nearly forced her back out again” (27). Sassy – Caylor’s octogenarian grandmother – was listening all her favorite music, including Burl Ives and “a random 1980s hair-band” on her MP3 player. While Sassy’s vision is failing in her old age, Ms. Dacus makes no mention that her hearing has suffered.  Apparently, she just appreciates the merits of good music playing loud.

·         A perfect size 14 and proud of it! –Don’t get me wrong, I love a slim, willowy heroine as much as the next romance reader. Caylor is tall and curvy and there are several references to her desire to fit into a certain outfit, but she's not obsessive over it.  She's not a twig, and she's okay with it. Her comfort with her figure is just one more thing about this book that makes it stand out for me.

·         Cooler heads prevail – As the story progresses and the characters learn about each other’s pasts, both Caylor and Dylan both have opportunity to judge one another harshly.  But they don’t. Often writers use characters’ unfair judgments of each other to create conflict. This can be a good tool, but it usually leave the reader angry at one character or the other. Ms. Dacus uses other elements to create the conflict and allows Caylor and Dylan to build a solid foundation of trust and understanding. An added benefit is that the reader is spared the aggravating desire to slap a fictional character upside the head. ;)

·         Meaningful character growth – Dylan has some emotional issues at the beginning of the story.  He takes good advice – even from his younger brothers – about dealing with these issues. As he learns how to assert himself, not everyone in his life appreciates it. I could see his growth in the way he handled himself in a couple of very tense scenes with his overbearing mother. Later in the story I felt almost as much satisfaction as he did when his efforts began to bear fruit.

Really, the last sentence of the novel is a very good summary of why I love it, “the true art of their romance was in discovering the trust and respect that came with being completely honest with one another and trusting God to take care of everything else.”

Have you read it? Do you agree? Tell me all about it.

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