Friday, February 24, 2006

Book Review: Portrait of a Lover

I mentioned in an earlier installment that I had been fortunate enough to win a copy of the galley of Julianne MacLean's new release, Portrait of a Lover before it hit the bookshelves on February 28th. I finished reading it last night and all I can say is wow. Actually more like WOW.

The challenge Julianne had with this story was taking Magnus, who was the villain in Love According to Lily, and turning him into a hero. No easy task given what we knew about him from her previous book, and yet Julianne managed the hurdle with her usual brilliance. I won't give the details away, but suffice to say she did not take the easy route. Annabelle and Magnus have a past, and not a real pretty one.

It would have been easy to slap together an uncomplicated explanation and have the characters get over it with the adage of love conquers all, but I think the readers would have felt a bit cheated. Instead Julianne takes us on a journey, first back to the original relationship, and then forward to the present day of the story. It's a wonderful, rocky, emotional trip that tugs at your heartstrings and ultimately has you cheering for these two to put their pasts to rest. But life isn't that easy, and Julianne doesn't shy away from that fact, and in doing so gives the story a realism that makes it all the more satisfying in the end.

Was she able to turn the villainous Magnus into a hero? Absolutely, and in a way that made it so believable you were routing for him right from the start. But the damage done from his past left a lot of things that needed to be overcome and therein lived the conflict.

With each book Julianne MacLean keeps getting better and better, delving into the truth of emotion and not stepping back from the dark side just because it isn't quite as pretty. She colors Portrait of a Lover with all the shades of light and dark and in the end paints a picture that stays with you long after you've finished the last page.


Tess said...

Hmm, sounds like another book for the TBB list. At this point, though, it'll have to wait till after the move. As it is, looks like I'm going to have to ditch some books or we'll spend every cent we have just moving them *deep sigh*.

Peggy said...

I remember Magnus from According to Lily. It should be interesting to see how she turned him into a hero. You definitely felt you only got one side of their story in that book---Annabelle's and her brothers, but knew there was probably more to it. And since I love bad boys gone good, it should be a great read.

Nikki said...

I can't wait to read this one!!! I loved how she made him such a baddie in Love According To Lily ... I can't wait to see how she pulls it off.

Only one more week to wait for me!

Melissa Marsh said...

Must go buy this one, too!

My favorite book where the villain of previous books has been turned into the hero is Patricia Veryan's "The Dedicated Villain." I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I read it.

Michelle said...

Thanks so much for the book recommendations! Can't wait to check this one and The Bride Ship out, too. :)