Oct 27 2011 9:30am

Family Ties: LaVyrle Spencer’s Enduring Appeal, Part 2

Separate Beds by LaVyrle SpencerPicking up right where we left off in Part 1, more LaVyrle Spencer favorites...

Separate Beds:  Clay Forrester is a wealthy college grad student working toward becoming a lawyer. His one-night stand with blind date Catherine Anderson (during an off period with his off/on girlfriend, Jill) leads to pregnancy and a marriage of convenience. The marriage will allow Clay to save his reputation and his soon-coming career, while giving Catherine financial security and safety from her abusive father.

What makes it great: His buttery popcorn hands on baby bump, the two of them making a townhouse a home and going from near-strangers to falling in love. Catherine is a very serious heroine, and Clay is an affectionate hero who gets frustrated with Cat’s ironclad lockdown on her feelings. They both grow up through the course of the novel; two kids become two adults, deep in love for each other, and for their baby.

Years by LaVyrle SpencerYears: Linnea Brandonberg arrives in Dickinson, North Dakota, prepared to take on a much needed teaching position and move in with her host family. She did not expect handsome grass widower farmer, Theodore Westgaard to take such an immediate dislike of her! His son is nearly her age! Luckily his mother, Nissa, allows her stay with them as planned, and despite Theodore’s bitterness for his ex-wife, he finds himself falling for a woman sixteen years his junior and she feels the same. Everything would be gravy, if only the man wouldn’t fight it tooth and nail.

What makes it great: Linnea was part of a fairly well-off family, so she’s unused to hearty Norwegian food and gags/turns green when she figures out what she’s eating sometimes. Pretty funny as I imagine a majority of readers would feel the same! It’s a May/December (I love these!) and I love how Linnea wiggles her way into Theodore’s heart and gently rebuffs the son (and that there’s no hard feelings on the son’s behalf). There’s a very emotional scene in the snow between Theodore and his brother designed to show the harshness of winter and living (fair warning it also has a character death :() I love when Theodore grovels silently, but with actions by showing up and having her teach him to read. They both know it’s an excuse he’s come up with to see her, but it doubles as his courting... sigh! And that it doesn’t end with the courting either, we get to see them married too!

Morning Glory by LaVyrle SpencerMorning Glory: Will Parker is an ex-convict drifter blowing through towns looking for work, food, and a place to stay until they discover his past and kick him out. Soon after he loses his job at a local sawmill in Whitney, Georgia, Will finds a personal ad looking for a man/husband. The woman seeking is none other than Crazy Elly Dinsmore, a woman the town looks on as a nutcase. Barefoot, pregnant, with two kids already, Elly desperately needs a man. While her deceased husband was good and kind, he was a dreamer and Elly needs a doer, someone who will get the job done and help her raise her family. Will could be that man, given half a chance. They decide on a trial period before agreeing to wed. The story spans WWII, starting just before America is drawn into action when America is still in the midst of the Great Depression.

What makes it great: Will Parker is a thief by necessity instead of design. At his core, he’s an honest, hard working man, looking for a second chance. He’s great with Elly’s kids, a patient teacher and sensitive to them and their mother. He needs a lover and a mother figure and finds both in Elly. Some of the best things about the book are Will’s relationship with the town’s librarian Miss Beasley, the hot bubblebath scene, and Will watching the newborn baby nurse at her breast. Both the hero and heroine suffer from low self-esteem. Spencer deals fabulously with Will’s PTSD and the murder mystery at the end too.

Now for some runner ups— which I feel are okay, or a bit better, but not some of Spencer’s best. I’m including them because my mother or friend loved these and would hate to see me not mention them in a LaVyrle Spencer post.

The Hellion by LaVyrle SpencerThe Hellion: I think it’s great that the hero has to get back into shape before he goes a-wooing his heroine in The Hellion, but there wasn’t much else that struck me in it. There was something about an abortion or maybe a miscarriage that broke up the main couple and to this day that kind of storyline isn’t one that I like. Too sad. I read it once.

Twice Loved: I like the sequence where you see the original love triangle in action, with one leg being unrequited. But I just felt icky about the *cheating* aspect as the heroine married the other guy when her real love *died.* The other guy was always second best and that wasn’t fair to him. I read it twice...ha! To give it a second chance, but nope, not one of my favorites yet.

Vows: This one also had a *cheating* slant. The heroine was engaged, but the hero didn’t think she loved the guy and wiggled his way between them. There are some fun aspects to this novel, but it’s not a favorite because of the sneaking around. I’ve read this three times long ago, but I might have to go back and give it another try.

Which is your favorite LaVyrle Spencer and why?


Keira Gillett reviews romance of all genres at Love Romance Passion. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can also find her on Twitter.

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Heather Waters
1. hnwaters
Yay, Separate Beds made the list! Is it bad that I think I want to reread this one before I start a new one?

This sounds awful, but after Battlestar Galactica, cheating in fiction (fiction, people, I don't mean IRL) doesn't bother me as much as it used to, so I'm curious about Vows.
2. Kebani
I abso love Morning Glory!! It was my favorite book when I was a starry eyed frumpy 13 year old whose mother dressed her funny :) I was always looking for love and couldn't find it until I discovered that romance novels take you away to the most rugged heros and neurotic heroines! I loved Morning Glory so much, I had my own soundtrack that I would listen to while re-reading the book (which I did often)
Darlene Marshall
3. DarleneMarshall
Hummingbird is a comfort read for me. I return to it every now and then because it's a sweet story about good people. I also like it because I live in North Florida, which is a lot like South Georgia, and I knew older folks not too different from the H&H of this story--hard working couples who wouldn't ask for a handout, went to war, put up peaches (and honey) and raised families with love and values.
Jennifer Shaw
4. JenniferL2
LaVyrle Spencer was the first romance author I ever read. My favorite is Morning Glory because it was such a beautiful, unique story. I've been meaning to do some re-reading and to get to the handful of Spencers I haven't read yet.

What great posts!
Keira Gillett
5. Keira
@hnwaters - I feel like I should give Vows another try, b/c you're right cheating comes across different in fiction than in real life.

@Kebani - What songs did you listen to?

@darlenemarshall - Oo yay! Another Floridian! Waves!!! :D I would consider all the books on this list to be comfort reads for me. I grew up on them and cut my romance teeth on them. They'll always hold a special spot in my heart.

@JenniferL2 - It is very unique. I don't think I've ever come across another story with two leads so broken with equally low self-esteem.
6. Jan the Alan Fan
I love 'Morning Glory' - it's great comfort reading for me. :D
7. Janga
Morning Glory and Hummingbird are my favorites, but I also love Small Town Girl. I reread a Spencer book every year or so, and these three are the ones I reread most often. I suspect Spencer would make the top ten of comfort reads if we could poll all romance readers, not just those online.
8. Inglath Cooper
Bittersweet, Separate Beds, The Hellion. All time favorites!
9. Anne Holly
I liked Small Town Girl, and That Camden Summer was also very nice. But Years is my all time favourite - one of my favourite books, period, actually. I named a hero of one of my own books after Theo. :)
10. snowdrop
she was the first romance novel author i read from aswell and she really made me far i have read many of her stories and had little to complain i see there's no one who can write romances as well as her because her romances really touches your heart. and the charactres she describes... i fall in love with them instantly.
Mrs.spencer you can be a role model for many.
11. DanaR
I love LaVyrle Spencer, have read all of her books several times each, and I was very sad when she retired from writing. My favorite book of hers is Vows, I've re-read this one numerous times. I like the idea that you shouldn't lock yourself into a "less-than" relationship because it's expected of you. Go for the person who *really* makes you happy.

My runner-up favorites would be Family Blessings and Twice Loved.
12. JenniferJ
I love most of the novels by LaVyrle Spencer that I have read, but one of my favourites is That Camden Summer which is about a widow and her children who move to Camden, Maine where she works as a travelling nurse. This story has a little bit of everything - including lots of humour!
My other favourite is Family Blessings which tells the story of a widow whose son dies in an accident and who turns for comfort to her son's best friend who is maybe 10 years her junior. Their mutual comfort develops into love, but not everyone thinks this is a good idea.
13. LCS
Of all of LaVyrle Spensers wonderfull books I loved The Growing Season the most--2nd, Seperate Beds--just read the books and you'll know why!
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