"A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England . . ."
Emilia Mason abandons her career in tabloid journalism after a story results in tragedy, and she burns her bridges behind her to travel to Oxford in hopes of reviving a dying charitable organization, both to start anew and to atone for her part in the tragedy. Peter Carlisle was headed for the Olympics in rowing before a shoulder injury knocked him out, and now he's desperate to get back to the top, even if it means ruining his shoulder for good. Helping with his cousin's charity throws him together with Emilia and sparks instantly fly, especially with their shared love of Narnia. But can their relationship overcome the ugly secret Emilia hides?
Lots of humor and references to The Chronicles of Narnia await those who pick up this romance, but there's pain and remorse to get through before the end. The author strikes an excellent balance between humor and drama, and there is a poignant spiritual thread as well.
Being as I've read the Chronicles of Narnia, I can't say for sure how much a difference knowledge of the series makes for understanding this book--it certainly increased my appreciation level. The important references are explained, and often with a clever punch for the plot (especially the Lucy vs Susan thing)*, but there are a lot of less-important-to-the-plot references that aren't explained in detail. I was pleased that the author references to the whole series, not just The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Though it is a minor part of the book, I enjoyed the continuation of Allie and Jackson's story from Close to You - it's no surprise that they're still working through issues, but it's good to see more closure on their story. And it fits in nicely with Emilia's tale! I'm hoping Kat gets her own story soon.
Thank you Howard Books and NetGalley for providing an e-book to review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.
*I have to add, the book makes me annoyed with CS Lewis all over again, because I liked
Susan in the Chronicles of Narnia, and I agree with Peter's assessment of her before his enlightenment - "Susan was great too. She had the magic horn and was an awesome archer. She was brave and resilient." So what if she has an important symbolic role to play in the final book--nothing will ever make me happy with Lewis for ruining her character in The Last Battle.
1. Close to You
2. Can't Help Falling