Monday, August 1, 2016

Sharon and Tom Curtis - Sunshine and Shadow

He thought there were no surprises left in the world...but the sudden appearance of young Amish widow Susan Peachey was astonishing—and just the shock cynical Alan Wilde needed. She was a woman from another time, innocent, yet wise in ways he scarcely understood.
Irresistibly, Susan and Alan were drawn together to explore their wildly exotic differences. And soon they would discover something far greater—a rich emotional bond that transcended both of their worlds and linked them heart-to-heart...until their need for each other became so overwhelming that there was no turning back. But would she have to sacrifice all she cherished for the uncertain joy of their forbidden love?

Comment: This was the book chosen for my buddy read with Hannah this month. The fact it would feature two very different people as the main couple was interesting and even more so because of the religious aspect included. I was looking for a strong and believable story but with a HEA.

In this book we meet Alan Wilde, a Hollywood man known for his coldness and cynicism. While directing a movie in Wisconsin, he and his team meet Susan Peachey, an Amish young woman. At first the surprise was too big for everyone to look at Susan with nothing less than curiosity but Alan sees something in her after she was accidentally caught on film. He pursues her and convinces her to be an actress in his movie.
Susan knows it is wrong to accept but the money will be a great help for her sister Rachel. Susan isn't aware of all the new things around her but Alan is a support she didn't expect. The two of them start to fall in love despite neither wanting or thinking they should. But when a path is chosen it's too unlikely one can turn back in time. What will happen to this surprising couple?

It took me a week - almost - to read this book. Sadly, I've been super busy with my job because summer is my high season of work, for I work in tourism. This means less time to read and less time to simply be lazy in the dead moments all jobs have.This poor book suffered a lot with my real life issues and the whole month, overall, did too.
It's too bad, isn't it? When books seem to feel less appealing because of things nor directly related to its content. I liked the book now that I can think of it more broadly but while reading my opinion was colored by all the interruptions, the few pages at a time I could manage and the days it took to get through it. I know it's not the book's fault, but it still happened. Don't you feel the same sometimes?

As for the plot, this book was quite unique, clearly written years ago, that's for certain, but the idea of mixing what we call contemporary people with Amish, a group that lives in the past traditions and very special ideas, was quite intriguing. 
The book basically shows us the relationship between Alan and Susan, two very different people with different looks on life but who found common ground to fall in love. Of course this was expected in a romance and the little steps they take towards that were beautiful but I'll have to be honest, Alan wasn't always very appealing. Sure, it was on purpose but the thing is, his "sort of" redemption at the end seemed a little too exaggerated because of that. The authors tried to make Susan he one who would put in evidence Alan's emotional change throughout the book but I think this was too subtle for it to be solid at the end.
Susan is a great heroine, she shows the beautiful side of life, the beauty in the small and simple things and her naiveté feels realistic but she's not stupid. There's a certain balance in her that is very peaceful.

I don't think this was a perfect book because it seems too obvious certain situations - related to the Amish - weren't fully correct. At least, by the knowledge one infers from news, it didn't seem so but of course I can't tell. I'm especially thinking about the end, which had to be sugary and happy yes, but it felt a little too much, not very realistic. Happiness and peace are worthy goals to want in this story of books but don't go over the top. In a way, I think this did. The pace of the story had its less than good moments and the romance between Susan and Alan wasn't always filled with emotionally good parts. 
I liked the general writing style but the book wasn't always very captivating, in particular because we just knew something bad would happen, not tragic but dramatic and that feeling was there all the time. I suppose it was on purpose but then it made me feel I had no option and the lack of hope for a twist wasn't always pleasant.

I liked many little details about the secondary characters, about the way Susan saw the world, there were many good passages and scenes to smile about and, for the most time, they hugely surpassed the less than good parts.
Overall, this was a positive book, somewhat depressing here and there but despite not being a favorite ever, I'll fondly think of it as a way in which different people can really conquer a lot with love.
Grade: 7/10

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