I recently read two books by Susan Kearsley - Winter Sea and The Rose Garden. The first novel involves “genetic memory” and features two romances, one set in the modern era and the other in pre-Jacobite Cornwall. The Rose Garden is a Cornish-based time-travel fantasy. Oh, I know some of you might wrinkle your nose in distaste at the idea of yet another novel about time travel but if you like romance, history and gorgeous locations, you really should give these books a chance.
After heaving a deep sigh for true love and strappingly handsome, tall-booted men to whom riding a spirited horse is second nature, I started thinking about why I enjoyed Kearsley’s books so much. And, since my reasons are applicable to many books in the romance genre, I thought I’d share them with you. OK? Good; here goes.
Kearsley’s prose isn’t overly flowery and she doesn’t go into too much detail about her characters’ looks. If I have a quibble with Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful Outlander novels it’s that I grow a wee bit tired of Jamie’s shimmering, golden-red hair. It’s amazing how many ways an author can describe hair in different lights and circumstances. Kearsley, on the other hand, seems to prefer giving a general description of the characters and then allowing her reader to mentally fill in the blanks. I quite like this approach. Here’s something else I appreciate: Kearsley shows us the passion building up between her couple, takes us with them into the bedroom to consummate said passion… and then closes the door to the reader until the next morning, when it’s made very apparent that it was a wonderful night and these two people are meant to be together. This is not to say that there should never be a romantic sex scene in a novel – it can be awfully fun – but I found Kearsley’s approach surprisingly satisfying. Finally, the author includes enough accurate historical information to make the plot interesting to a history-buff like me but doesn’t add so much that one feels expected to take an exam upon completion of the book.
Spot-on writing, Ms. Kearsley, and I hope you keep putting out these lovely, sigh-worthy novels.