Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chance Encounters by J. Sterling

Chance EncountersChance Encounters by J. Sterling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Super sigh of sweet satisfaction!

Remember this song, by Bryan Adams?

"When you love someone, you'll sacrifice
You'll give everything you got, and you won't think twice
You'll risk it all, no matter what may come
When you love someone.
You'll shoot the moon, put out the sun
When you love someone"

Those words sound so vanilla, just sitting there on the page, but with the smoky, smouldering intensity of Bryan Adams' voice and the moody dreamlike piano and flute accompaniment, they convey a powerful sense of an almost desperate yearning to be with the object of your desire. So, it's kind of awkward, to say the least, when that kind of powerful emotion hits you when you've already committed to be with someone else. And that's what happens to MC Caroline as our story opens. She's in a lovely, settled relationship with her lawyer boyfriend Clay when she gets word of the death of a friend. On her return from the funeral, she's seated, by chance, next to Jackson Parks. Maybe we should move the "s" to the front of his last name, because whoa! crazy sparks fly, and they set Caroline and Jackson's lives on fire. Like Bryan's song suggests, a love so intense and consuming has risks, and requires everything you've got. But can careful Care, the sensible girl with a plan, take a chance based on just that kind of random encounter? Especially when it's more than just her own heart at stake.

This is an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. It's not enough that Caroline and Jackson have to contend with their overwhelming mutual attraction (hey, it could be worse, I guess, if it were one sided) while stuck at absolute opposite ends of the U.S., the disapproval of their well-meaning friends, and other peoples' claims to their hearts. Events won't stand still either, and require a leap of faith that might well end in disaster for one or both of them.

Personally I couldn't help but fall in love with Caroline. I know that cheating is kind of a gray area at best in romance novels, and it's not clear if what Caroline does would be considered that (this is kind of a chaste romance, btw, by today's standards, although emotionally flagrant). But she's so torn between what's expected of her and what her heart can't resist that her struggles will def tug at your heartstrings. She doesn't want to be the kind of person she'd hate, who can argue with that? Fortunately she has an awesome lifeline friend, Bailey, to provide perspective, help the plot along and just generally be funny and charming. There really aren't any good guys or bad guys (although some of them pull some extremely maddening stunts), just a crew of realistically drawn characters with the flaws, foibles and occasional strengths that real folk would display.

This is a charming, poignant, tender and exhilarating read. I love the way the author conveys that giddy sense of besotted, bewilderingly
beautiful emotional attraction that is one of life's greatest gifts. Don't hesitate to give that gift to yourself, by reading this sweet and affecting novel asap!

When You Love Someone Bryan isn't so generous about sharing his videos. But I thought this cover was charming, she's so sweet and YA, and also has just a little bit of a French accent, I thought she did a lovely job of conveying the vibe of the song and, a little bit, of the book.
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