I was never much of a romance reader, although I did follow several of Janet Dailey’s titles. Nothing against romance, I was just busy with other genres. But when I saw that Lisa Richard Claro’s new book Love Built to Last was hot off the presses, I remembered her winning short story published in a national magazine’s romance contest a couple of years ago. That story grabbed me and kept me reading to the very end. I thought I’d give her romance, first in an upcoming series, a chance. I was not disappointed.
Claro’s characters aren’t stereotypes, but instead are sincere and very human folk. Caleb is a handsome man for sure, but his good looks are overpowered by his loving attention to his small son and his interaction with his amiable family. Caleb, himself a widower who lost his young wife to cancer, builds cabinets, furniture and remodels houses. Maddy, who also lost her husband to death, spends a good deal of time pushing her glasses up on her nose like the school teacher she is. She also believes that husband Jack speaks to her from the grave by letting her find a certain card, ad, note, or flyer on his cluttered desk. When she wants an answer she goes to the desk to “draw a card” so to speak from the deck of pages he left behind. Their relationship begins when Caleb starts the job of modernizing her old country house’s kitchen left from the 1970s.
The idea that the dead could talk to the living might be clichéd or overused in a lesser author’s hands, but Claro’s writing is tight and authentic making the reader a believer from the very beginning. Her rapid fire dialogue sprinkled with Southern snap keeps the story sharp. Believable and razor sharp imagery such as “one kiss, and she backpedaled like a politician talking taxes” displays Claro’s Southern background and clever wit.
While there are definitely a few sensual scenes, tasteful ones, they don’t overpower the story nor are they the main focus of the tale. This book is tightly woven with family relationships, active children, and lots of animals that make the story comfortable and as homey feeling as a breakfast with hot grits. Lisa Claro is a writer to watch and new readers will become instant fans waiting for the next book in the Fireflies series.