Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis from Barbour Books: Author Kaye Dacus will ignite your love of romance with book 2 of her Matchmakers series. Dylan Bradley, who once illustrated steamy romances under the name Patrick Callaghan, has moved into his grandparent’s guest house in Nashville.

Caylor Evans, having once written titillating novels under the pen-name Melanie Mason, lives with her grandmother. When their lives collide, due to the machinations of meddling matriarchs, the pasts of Dylan and Caylor threaten to derail their futures. Will they accept each other for who they now are—and once were? Or will they never discover the true art of romance?

Review: I confess that I was a bit wary of reading a novel bearing the title The Art of Romance. It is not necessarily a title that one wants to reveal to one's co-workers, who may not be acquainted with inspirational novels.  In reality, Kaye Dacus's second book in the Matchmakers series is rather light on the actual romance between the two lead characters. Because both Caylor and Dylan harbor "secrets"  from their pasts, much of the novel is spent with them analyzing and fighting their attraction for one another.  Although both characters are instantly drawn to one another, their relationship is slow to develop.  I appreciate that aspect of the plot, since I have never been fond of two characters falling instantly in love.  Both Caylor and Dylan find outlets for their feelings through their respective arts.  Their barriers break down slowly during the course of the novel, and their secrets are eventually revealed, allowing Caylor and Dylan to confront their feelings.  Overall, I found the latter part of the second half of the novel to be the most enjoyable portion of The Art of Romance as Caylor's and Dylan's relationship comes to fruition.

The concept of the Art of Romance is unique and fresh. Dylan is a young man with a less than pristine past, emerging from a relationship with an older woman.  With his shaggy hair and tattoos, Dylan is not the typical clean-cut male lead in most inspirational novels. His character definitely carries more baggage than Caylor's, whose past is only marred by writing general market romance novels. I enjoyed watching Dylan work through his issues and grow into an honest and confident man who finally feels worthy of true and pure love.  The Nashville setting was also a bonus.  After visiting the city several years ago, I was able to picture many of the areas Dylan and Caylor visited throughout the novel.

Dacus infuses the novel with an abundance of details that set the scenes, both significant and insignificant.  The novel reminded me of recent, contemporary Hallmark movies, with an emphasis eating and activities involving food.  I felt that the plethora of descriptions buried the actual plot of the novel and slowed the pace.  I appreciate attention to details; but the presence, and in some cases repetition, of small details were more of a hindrance. I would have enjoyed more progression in the actual plot. However, I applaud Dacus for having the vision to imagine the most minute aspects of a scene and the small idiosyncrasies of her characters.

Although this was only a mediocre read for me personally, The Art of Romance is a well-written and well-thought out novel.  Readers looking for a wholesome contemporary romance with some depth and a multitude of details will enjoy Kaye Dacus's latest novel, and her depiction of "the art of romance."

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kaye Dacus and Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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