Arden is a gardener at the local park, following in her grandad’s footsteps. She has a creative spark but resists adding her own design to the landscaping despite her obvious skills. Lithia Park is the home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s open-air performances, with which she has a love hate relationship; she adores Shakespeare and sees every show, but hates the transient nature of the company – including her parents who left her behind for the bright lights elsewhere.
Every year she has a short relationship with one of the cast or crew, and each year gets hurt when they leave. So when she meets Emilie rehearsing in the Park she is determined to keep her emotional distance.
Emile has recently escaped a domineering relationship where she was constantly second and is resolutely staying single and putting herself and her career first. She sees the season in Oregon as a last chance to establish the career she too easily gave up to follow her heart. So the stage is set but the players determined to resist, always a clear sign they are drawn to each other despite their best intentions.
Karis Walsh write some of the best descriptive settings and scenes out there. Her use of colour, visual narrative and the senses draws us in to the scene and makes it real, to the point you could walk round the park or through the backstage theatre in your mind long after the scene is over.
Her characters are similarly well drawn; rounded, flawed and both have lessons to learn and growing to do. The small supporting cast of established locals and the Shakespeare company are equally well sketched and add to the colour and flavour of the whole.
Well written and edited, Walsh’s romances flow across the page with delightful ease. A mixture of humour and angst, self-doubt and learning, the main characters form a solid friendship and support each other’s professional development, grounding the whole in a sense of reality.
I never miss a new Karis Walsh and she continues to deliver new characters, setting and plots with consistently good stories and charming romance.
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(publisher review copy received)
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