Jan 28 2013 4:30pm

First Look: Lisa Kleypas’s Crystal Cove (February 5, 2013)

Crystal Cove by Lisa KleypasLisa Kleypas
Crystal Cove (Friday Harbor)
St. Martin's Press / February 5, 2013 / $14.99 print, $9.99 digital

Justine Hoffman has made a comfortable life for herself on the island of Friday Harbor. She is the proprietor of a successful boutique hotel, and she has the safe, predictable life she has always wanted. Growing up with her flighty, nomadic mother, Marigold, has instilled in her a deep longing for stability. But in spite of everything Justine has achieved, there is still something missing. Love. And after years of waiting and dreaming, she is willing to do whatever it takes to change her destiny.

What Justine soon discovers is that someone cast a spell on her when she was born, with the result that she will never find her soul mate. Determined to change her fate, Justine finds a way to break the enchantment, never dreaming of the dangerous complications that will follow.

And when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that threaten everything she holds dear . . . because Jason has secrets of his own, and he wants more from her than fate will ever allow.

Whether you live in a small town or a large city, dating can be difficult. Falling in love and finding true happiness can be even tougher. Now imagine that you are Justine Hoffman, and you were cursed to never experience true love. Everyone tells her that one day she’ll find “Mr. Right,” but she knows it’s not that simple. Justine is trying to get rid of a bad spell that was placed on her from her childhood in the hope that she can experience a Happily Ever After of her own. She’s curious about the soulmates-forever kind of love. As Zoë explains to Justine about love, “Until you’ve felt it…you haven’t really lived.”

When Justine’s not busy running her own art-themed bed-and-breakfast in Friday Harbor, she enjoys kayaking, being in nature, and witchcraft (again, trying to get rid of that pesky curse). When the alluring and mysterious Jason Black takes a business vacation at her bed-and-breakfast, lightning strikes, and they feel an instant chemistry. Besides their magnetic attraction to each other, they are both looking for answers.

But getting rid of curses and reversing magic spells isn’t easy. Yes, it’s tougher than dating. Where there is a gain, there is also a loss or a sacrifice. Where there is one change the universe, another change will shift and crop up elsewhere. Incredible supernatural side-effects can result, sometimes helpful and sometimes dangerous... It’s a delicate dichotomy.

The fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’s Friday Harbor series, Crystal Cove, has a strong thematic pattern of these complementary opposites, somewhat like the Japanese concept of inyodo:

“Thoughts of her lingered in his mind like a soft autumnal perfume, earth and leaves and rain. He and she were right for each other in the same way darkness was complimented by light, night by day. Inyodo was the Japanese word for it.”

Black and Justine Hoffman are like night and day. He is the dark and mysterious hero with money and power, whereas she is the warm and personable heroine with a sweet soul. His power comes from an intimidating confidence and monetary influence, whereas her power is more of a wilder elemental magic. (If she throws a tantrum, glass will shatter.) He is the commanding CEO of his own company, and he can program addictive mind-blowing video games. She is cozy with her peaceful lifestyle, running her charming bed-and-breakfast—even though she can light candles just by snapping her fingers. He has no problem charging into awkward conversations, and she maintains a “delicate frost of remoteness.” He prefers metropolitan living, and discussing thermoelectric energy and Buddhist philosophy. She’s a free-spirit who prefers the serene isolation of settling in Friday Harbor.

An obvious inyodo is on the cover: There is both the dark night sky, with a crescent moon, and the brightness of the sun, shining through the lighthouse and onto the foreground. And there's a constant inyodo in the plotline: Two intense nail-biting scenarios come to mind where the reader is pulled into danger, and the magical/supernatural elements leave us wondering if the hero and heroine will really be safe. A tantalizing sex scene explores the biting sting of an erotic Japanese art-form of bondage called Kinbaku. And of course, this kinky burn is soothed by the sweet heart-to-heart tender moments that Kleypas writes so well. Then the reader is gently eased into a romantic emotional calm.

The sensuality shines through in the details, whether it’s a description of a neon sunset, or Jason’s retelling of a shadowy dream, or a potted white orchid that’s sitting on a table in the “Klimt-themed” guestroom. Justine’s overall journey and transformation throughout the story is inyodo, dark and light moments complimenting each other. She faces many challenges and confrontations; with her past and her unsatisfactory relationship with her mother, with the secrets she has discovered from her aunts, and with herself —dealing with both personal (somewhat magical) growth, and overall her feelings for Jason and achieving her Happily Ever After.

Have you read any other romances with this balance of darkness complemented by light?


Jena Briars is a California girl living in D.C., feeding her brain one romance novel at a time...When she's not busy at work, or being distracted (sometimes ambushed) by her cat, she reviews romances on her website Throughout the Pages.

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Nikki H
1. Nikki H
I can hardly wait until this one comes out
Nikki H
2. Nikki H
Where did my exclamation point go? :)
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