How to Knit a Love Song: A Cypress Hollow Yarn by Rachael Herron
Genre: romance, Novel+
On my TBR list? Yes
1st book of a possible series
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Synopsis, from Goodreads:
Abigail is more than ready for a change when she inherits a cottage from her beloved mentor, knitting guru Eliza Carpenter. Leaving the oppressive city for the greener pastures of a small California beach town, she intends to turn her cozy little windfall into a knitting shop and spend her days spinning, designing, and purling. But she's not going to be welcomed with open arms by her new neighbor. Eliza's disgruntled nephew, the gorgeous Cade, now owns everything surrounding Abigail's ramshackle new home, and he views this sexy city girl as an unwanted interloper.
From the start, I've felt a strange connection to this novel. I am a long-time reader of Rachael Herron's blog Yarn-A-Go-Go, dating back to the days when all she really talked about was her knitting. I've read about her wedding, her mother's funeral, her move into a new place, and all kinds of crazy things that have happened at her workplace. There is no illusion in my mind that we are friends, but I know more about her than I know about any other author whose work I've read.
This is also a book that I've been waiting to read for a long time. Usually when I am looking forward to the publication of a book, it is part of a series so I have a good reason; I'm already invested in the universe and the story line from previous books. In this case, I was looking forward to How to Knit a Love Song based only on the reading of a single chapter. Herron entered the chapter in a contest on Gather called First Chapters back in 2007 under the name Love Spun. She didn't win, but her entry got the attention of an agent and now she's got a published book under her belt.
So what did I think of the book? One thing that struck me is how sexy it is. It's not soft-core porn or anything, but it is sexier than one would expect from a book with a basket of yarn on the cover. However, all the love scenes are written in such way that the reader will get an inner glow without having her face turn red while reading this in the doctor's office.
This is what I like to call a "novel+", a genre of novels where a recipe or pattern is included. Usually with these books the crafting bit feels tacked on like "OK, we're talking about knitting now for all the knitting fans. See, we know all the cool lingo!" Perhaps it is just my bias because I encountered Herron as a knitter first and then found out that she earned an MFA in Creative Writing, but the knitting talk felt more natural to me. I especially enjoyed the way she had her characters acknowledge that the knitting world can be an insular community with events that mean very little to the world at large. At the end of the book, there is just a pattern -- no book club questions or instructions for the beginning knitter. Brava for keeping it brief!
The other elements of the book rang true, as well. In my mind, the mark of a bad romance novel is when the guy and gal are kept apart by ridiculous circumstances. When I read these books, I find myself yelling at the pages, "Go talk to him already!" because it is evident that a five-minute conversation would clear up the whole situation. Luckily, Herron avoided this trap. I could easily imagine myself in Abigail's or Cade's place and understand why it took so long for them to get together.
My only quibble with the book, and it is a minor one, is that the author went for what I have come to think of as the "Lori Wick epilogue" (I've learned that other romance authors use it, too, but I've encountered it over and over in Wick's books). I won't give away what is in the epilogue, but if you read a lot of romances, then you probably know. I can't be too mad at Herron for including it, though. I should have known better than to read the epilogue.
The subtitle on the cover says "A Cypress Hollow Yarn", which usually indicates that it is the first of a series. This book did not end in a cliffhanger, so I can only imagine that if there is another book it will follow other characters in the community. I would definitely add the next book to my TBR list.
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