So, I've discovered another grand romance author that I just have to tell you about. I've spent the last couple of weeks completely in thrall with Evie Snow and the first entries in her "Sanctuary" series. I have to confess that I'm more than just a little familiar with Evie because she is actually the brain child of one of my favourite authors and all round good people, Georgina Penney - oh she of the equally grand Blaine sisters trilogy.
Best-selling author Georgina (George) Penney does the actual writing and reads far too many books. Her husband, Tony Johnson (AKA The Kraken) helps out with plot wrangling and is in charge of caffeine distribution. Franky, their surly cat also helps by running the complaints department from his hiding place under the coffee table.
With Evie Snow, Georgina and Tony have gone in a fun direction, crafting novels that are quick fire, sexy and sumptuous. Yet they retain signature aspects of Georgina's approach to romantic fiction - chiefly among them, her knack of dropping in an emotionally weighty undercurrent that serves to lift her characters and stories to a level above the standard romantic fare.
So I want to focus on two titles today, the first two in the Sanctuary series "Head Over Heels" & "California Dreaming". I actually read these 'arse about'. The relatively short novella Head Over Heels was the introduction to the picturesque California coastal town of Sanctuary (think Monterey smooshed together with Gilmore Girls), followed by California Dreaming, which is a longer form novel that deepens the feel and the place of Sanctuary. It probably matters little, which order you read them in but I'd recommend you play by Evie's rules.
Head Over Heels follows the misadventures (??) of plucky pin-up clothing store owner Madeline Evans. Madeline always spends her July 4th on the beach writing down her goals while she keeps an eye out for her fantasy man. Every year, she watches her almost-prom-date-turned-famous-actor jog along the same beach where she writes her resolutions. But she never expected to actually have to talk to him…
Cal Greyson’s acting career just took a sharp turn for the worse. After losing his bid to star in a blockbuster flick, his steady job at a soap opera is cut short in the most embarrassing way possible. It’s the cherry on the sundae when he falls down during his annual jog through his hometown beach. As the onlookers start recording with their smart-phones, he’s rescued by the most surprising person imaginable…
The former high school classmates hide out in Madeline’s house until the coast is clear. As they revisit the past, a little white lie Madeline spread about Cal in her youth may keep them from fantasizing about their future…
As I mentioned, Head Over Heels is a quick fire read that plays out as a cheeky character study. It's comical, its dialogue is snappy and smart and it dances deftly between the two central characters of Madeline and Cal who have an awkward past that is a touch bittersweet. How they appraise that past and parlay that into a reflection of where they're both at now is engaging, sweet and - did I say sexy? Yeah - it's damn sexy!
California Dreaming follows the travails of two people who are wrestling with somewhat fractious pasts - always great fodder for good romance. Jared Nairn needs a new start and a good night’s rest. After enduring a combat zone, a rocky divorce, and chronic insomnia, the quaint California town of Sanctuary seems like just the place to rebuild. He hopes that an appointment with the local meditation expert will cure his lack of sleep. After duty on the frontline, hypnosis should be a breeze…
Mai Tran has treated her fair share of men without much interest of dropping their defenses. So when a nervous veteran strides into her office, it’s nothing out of the ordinary… except for the instant attraction that seems to be completely mutual. But with someone spreading false rumors about nefarious activity during Mai’s sessions, she’s hesitant to start a relationship with a client. Any potential scandal could break her and bankrupt her practice…
After a meditation track mixup, Jared and Mai can’t help but indulge their more passionate natures. When both of their pasts come back to haunt them, the veteran and the hypnotist must decide just how much they’re willing to risk for love…
I feel as though I know this wonderful coastal region of California a lot more than I did before reading California Dreaming. Here, Evie has crafted a delightful and heartwarming romance, filled with small town charm - a'la Gilmore Girls - and an eclectic cast led by the soulful therapist Mai Tran and former soldier Jared Nairn. They are attractive people right off the page and they are well drawn, informed by intriguing back stories that add real depth and complexity and contribute great story moments to the narrative herein. I was invested in them from the outset and quickly came to care for Mai and Jared as their budding romance took some sweet, sexy and quite unpredictable turns.
That beautiful knack, Penney/Snow has of weaving a serious narrative undercurrent to her work makes California Dreaming a thought provoking read. It is always a pleasant surprise to see how the author tackles these and you inevitably leave her stories feeling as though you've encountered something important in them.
Both Head Over Heels and California Dreaming are everything that is lovely about good romantic storytelling. I adored them both.
With more titles coming from Evie Snow in the Sanctuary series and additional series to boot, romance readers will be spoiled for choice. Her website alone is a fantastic portal to explore to get a feel of where her journey is headed. You've simply got to check it out!
Visit Evie Snow here.
Connect with Evie Snow here.
Tweet with Evie Snow here.
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