Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog with an Austen retelling and her review of Find Wonder in All Things by Karen M. Cox. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy and be sure to comment so you are entered in the giveaway!
by Karen M. Cox
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
“There could have never been two hearts so open… Now they were as strangers”
Mountain Laurel Elliot is like her name—she blooms best in the cool comfort of shade, hidden in the Kentucky foothills of Appalachia. Alone on her mountain, she lives a private existence with only her pottery—and her regrets—for company.
James Marshall had a secret dream and Laurel was part of it, but dreams sometimes lead to unexpected places. James’s heart broke when Laurel cut him loose, but he moved on—and became successful beyond his wildest dreams.
For one glorious summer, James and Laurel had each other, but life has kept them far apart.
Sophia Rose’s Review
Home. What is that? Where is that? Who… is that? James Marshall is on a long emotional journey to find this out. Just as Mountain Laurel Elliot has always known the answers to these questions, but as a fledgling adult is unsure and scared when life and choices start coming fast and hard leading her to retreat up her mountain and from the only person who ever made her happy.
Find Wonder in All things is a story of young love, first love, lost love… and second chances in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky that feed Artistic Laurel and musical James’ souls. It’s a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion that anyone whether they’ve ever read or seen an Austen adaption can appreciate.
James Marshall comes as a boy with his best friend Stu and Stu’s wealthy family to the lake one summer and is introduced to the Elliots who run the lake-side marina and restaurant. The father is a hippy naturalist and conservationist of sorts, the mother is a recluse, older sister Virginia has drive and looks that attract Stu while quiet compassionate art-loving Laurel catches James’ eye after she grows up. One glorious summer during his college years, he returns to work in the Elliot’s restaurant and spends his free hours with Laurel exploring around the lake and mountains and going to the Loft after hours all the while falling in love. But, that summer doesn’t begin the good life for either of them because that winter his parents broke up, he dropped out of college to move to Nashville pursuing his music career while trying to coax eighteen year old Laurel to leave her school and family responsibilities to join him because they are in love. The love he counted on shattered sending him far from the hills of Kentucky turning his back on his past and forging a new future that didn’t include Mountain Laurel Elliot.
Some books have an artistic quality to their prose. This is a simple second chance love story at its heart, but I found myself falling in love with more than just the characters, their friends, and their romance. The Appalachians and the lake region of the story wove around me and was the main character in my mind’s eye. When Laurel sent James away, he also these mountains, too.
James and Laurel shared the narration and I found this type of story really needed both perspectives to lend balance and understanding especially later. I loved that the story began with them meeting as kids and spent long periods on the idyllic summer just before Laurel went off to college and James went back to school and then that frenzied Christmas break. It was a good foundation and showed who they were at their core, but they still had some growing to do as individuals before they could ever be a couple. They were a typical pair of new adults feeling attraction and they made use of picnic blankets under the stars and nights by the fire to get up to some sensual good times. I found it all believable and appreciated how the story wasn’t told in isolation, but the surrounding cast of family and friends- and rivals- advanced the romance and the character’s growth.
For those very familiar with Persuasion, there will be obvious parallels, but this is not a tit for tat retelling and every character and event doesn’t match the original. I enjoyed the originality and flavor of the author’s own righting paying homage rather than just merely copying a classic. Those who came of age in the 80’s will feel nostalgic throughout this one even though it feels rather timeless at the lake with its marina, little store, and The Loft where everyone gathered, dancing and open mic nights were the thing.
All in all, I loved being immersed in the story and cheering this romance pair while feeling the connection to one of my favorite classic stories. Those who enjoy slightly spicy summery second chance romances should definitely give this one a go.
To celebrate the second edition of Find Wonder in All Things, Karen is giving away a signed copy of the book and some Jane Austen swag: fun notecards from The Quill Ink, What Would Jane Do? book of quotes, and Austen coffee mug (if US winner) or an ebook copy of the book and $25 Amazon Gift Card (if International Winner – cause shipping 🙂 Each comment left on a blog tour post will serve as an entry. Winner will be chosen by 11:59 pm EDT on 2.6.20 and announced on Karen’s website and social media (Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram).
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