The Wanderer (by Robyn Carr)

After the death of an old army buddy, Cooper travels to Thunder Point, Oregon determined to find out what happened. While there he learns that his friend has left him a run down bait shop and a large parcel of pristine beach front  land. But Cooper is a wanderer at heart and settling down isn’t in the plan.

Sarah is a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot. She moved to Thunder Point to escape her cheating ex-husband, not so easy to do when you work out of the same base. His betrayal was so deep that she can’t trust any man and especially someone like Cooper who freely admits he has commitment issues. But as Cooper steps in and helps Sarah’s brother who is facing bullying at school, she finds herself drawn to him.

Robyn Carr doesn’t just write romance novels, she writes whole communities. The Wanderer centres around Cooper and Sarah, but it’s in no way only about them. Characters and story lines are introduced which will come into focus in future books. It’s one of the things I love the most about  Robyn Carr’s writing. Stories don’t just end on the last page of the book, we will revisit these same characters in each book in the series.

I found this book to be a little busy in the first couple of chapters but after that it settled down into an intelligent story about ordinary people trying to make their way in the world.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Eleanor & Park (by Rainbow Rowell)

“I don’t like you Park, ” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…”––her voice nearly disappeared––”think I live for you.”  

He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow. 

“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath.”

For Eleanor, the only thing worse than going to school is going home. Coming from a home where her violent and abusive step-father lords over the household, her life is one of hopelessness and despair.

Park is a fringe dweller, a person who is on the edge of the popular group but not really a part of it. When Eleanor starts sitting next to him on the bus to and from school their journeys are at first silent, but gradually they start to communicate in small ways. Over time Eleanor comes to depend on Park, and Park falls in love with Eleanor. But the price of saving her might be losing her.

Eleanor & Park is an amazing book. It is a poetic and beautiful book which occasionally made me ache with despair. In a world with an abundance of really great books, Eleanor & Park is somehow a little bit more. One of the best books I read in 2012.

Many thanks to St Martins Press and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.