Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To My Senses by Alexandrea Weis

I don't read a lot of romance novels, but I'm glad I agreed to review To My Senses by Alexandrea Weis. I was intrigued by the promise of a love story involving a New Orleans debutante who doesn't crave money and status like others in her family's circle and the painter/gigolo she meets at a tea party.

Nicci Beauvoir doesn't want to take over her father's scrap business, and studying to become a nurse doesn't leave her much time for men, much to the chagrin of her cousin Colleen, her Aunt Hattie, and the rest of her family. She first sees David Alexander on the arm of Sammy Fallon, her father's main business competitor and the mother of Eddie, who has long been in love with Nicci. David is intrigued by Nicci, as she is much different than the rest of the crowd and not easily won over by his charms. He paints the scenery of New Orleans, hoping his "connection" to Sammy will generate interest in his art, but it's not until he meets Nicci that he reaches his artistic potential. Nicci is his muse. Weis does an excellent job showing the passion between Nicci and David, both sexually and artistically.

To My Senses is a standard romance: rich girl meets bad boy, boy eventually wins girl's heart, boy loses girl. But thankfully, the book is so much more. Not only does Nicci have to come to terms with her feelings for David, but she also must find herself. After she and David part ways (I won't give the reason away), she decides she can never fall in love again but immediately starts a relationship with Dr. Michael Fagles, a psychiatrist whose main concern is money and status. Nicci goes from being an independent, intelligent woman to someone who puts up with a man telling her she needs to dress more conservatively and keep her thoughts to herself. Of course, in true romance style, David is not gone for good.

I hated the ending, but I must clarify my thoughts here. The ending was great--character evolution, no loose ends, compelling story. But I didn't expect it, and it wasn't what I wanted. Weis pulled an Anita Shreve on me, changing the course of the entire book in one paragraph. Boy, I haven't shed a few tears at the end of a book in awhile. When I closed the book, I still had 40 minutes of my afternoon commute left, and I couldn't do anything but stare out the window and contemplate. To me, that shows why To My Senses is much more than just a romance novel. To top it off, the book is beautifully written. Here's my favorite passage:

I open my eyes and suddenly the world looks completely different, like a veil has been removed from before me. It is the same world, but I see everything around me in a new way as if the darkness of the past has been replaced by the light of a new beginning. (page 336)

To My Senses is a good choice if you enjoy a passionate love story, intriguing characters who bare their flaws and all, and a vivid setting. If you're a painter, a writer, or any other artist, you'll appreciate the struggles the main characters encounter during the artistic process.

To My Senses also was reviewed by:

A Bookworm's World
A Reader's Respite
You've GOTTA read this!
Pudgy Penguin Perusals

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of To My Senses from the author for review purposes.


Darlene said...

I don't read a lot of romance novels either Anna but this one sure does sound like it's worth the read. Another for the tbr list I guess.

Staci said...

Thanks for the great review. It's always nice to have a great romance to look forward to!!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

It's tough when an ending comes out of left field. The rest of the book sounds pretty good, though.

Ladytink_534 said...

My mother made me read a book kind of similar to this. I hated the ending but I liked the book lol.

Alyce said...

It does sound like a good love story. I like those books that make me feel something deeply.

Serena said...

I love how stories can turn on a dime at the end...I just love those. Even though romances are not for me, this sounds pretty good.

Literary Feline said...

I do not read a lot of romance novels either, but you've gotten me intrigued about this one, Anna. I am especially curious about the ending. Even though you didn't like the outcome, you have paid the author a big compliment. Thanks for another great review!

Anonymous said...

How dare the author write an ending that didn't match what you were expecing/hoping for :) It sounds like this one gave you a lot to think about (and would it have stayed with you as much if the ended was what you were looking for?)

And how long is your commute, if you had 40 minutes left after finishing the book!?

Anna said...

Dar: If you get a chance to read it, please let me know what you think.

Staci: You're very welcome!

Trish: At least it was a good ending. It made sense. After I thought about it more, I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. I like it when an author catches me off guard, but it's hard when you've grown attached to the characters.

Ladytink: That's exactly the way I feel! As a writer, I think the ending works; it just didn't make me happy.

Alyce: When I started the book, I didn't think it would be so emotional. It was really the ending that did it for me.

Serena: I bet you'd like this one.

Literary Feline: Let me know if you ever read it. I'd love to know your thoughts on the ending.

Dawn: No, I don't think I would've been so worked up if it was a plain-vanilla ending. That's why the ending was so great. I don't have to be happy about it. LOL As for my commute, this was in the afternoon, so I leave work around 2:30 and the train doesn't arrive at the station near my house until 5:00.

Iliana said...

Not a big romance reader either but I like what you said about this one... And of course you've got us all intrigued about the ending now! :)

Anna said...

Iliana: My bad!

The author, Alexandrea Weis, emailed me to say she's working on a sequel. I can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with this book. Weis is an awesome writer! :)

Anna said...

J. Kaye: Did you know there's going to be a sequel?? I agree that she's a great writer.