Caveat: Those of you who loathe spoilers may want to skip this post if you haven’t yet read but plan to read Jennifer Haymore’s Tristan Family books or Julia London’s Summer of Two Wishes. I’m not reviewing these books, but I do mention them in a spoilerish manner.
I am not a fan of love triangles; I usually avoid them. I dropped off the Stephanie Plum bandwagon long ago. I’m talking about true triangles now, books where the hero or heroine has to make a choice and is genuinely pulled in two directions. There are a lot of second-banana characters in romance novels, some endearing and some villainous, who are there to add conflict but who are never real threats to the hero or heroine. If Gone with the Wind were really a romance, Scarlett would have been smarter and she and Rhett would have had their HEA. I think of Eloisa James’s Mayne, one of my favorite characters ever, but there’s never any doubt that Helene and Rees are the H/H in Your Wicked Ways. The fun is seeing how James is going to bring them together. The same thing holds true for another favorite of mine, Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements. I adored Freddy, but I never questioned that Gigi and Camden would be reconciled. Of course, my affection for the two not-heroes I mentioned accounts for the fact that the books where they are the true heroes, Pleasure for Pleasure (James) and His at Night (Thomas) rank high among my list of favorites. Still, I maintain that the books where I first encountered Mayne and Freddy are not truly love triangle books.
However, I admit that I have read—and doubtless will continue to read—some novels that do feature true triangles. Sometimes I read them because they are by an autobuy author, and sometimes I read them because they generate a lot of buzz and I feel compelled to check them out. Julia London’s Summer of Two Wishes falls in the first group. I started reading London more than a decade before SOTW, and even though I knew it was a love triangle, I couldn’t pass on a book by a favorite author. (Only vampires and serial killers lead me to that decision.) Even though Summer of Two Wishes ended the way I hoped, I have still waited impatiently for well over a year to see Wyatt, the “loser” in that triangle, get his HEA. (The wait will be over on February 25 when A Light at Winter’s End is released.) Jennifer Haymore’s A Hint of Wicked had many of my friends talking, and I was curious. I ended up fascinated by the book, but Garrett broke my heart. Of course, I had the see him get his HEA in A Touch of Scandal. In a different genre, Inara Scott hooked me on her YA series, Delcroix Academy, with the first book, Delcroix Academy: The Candidates despite an ending that I knew would generate Team Cam and Team Jack. (I’m leaning toward the latter.) None of these “books I have enjoyed even though they feature love triangles” prepared me for the most recent I read in this category, Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs.
Like a lot of Wiggs fans, I have read all the Lakeshore Chronicles and watched with fascination and sympathy as Daisy Bellamy grew from a young teen dealing with her parents’ divorce (Summer at Willow Lake) to a character faced with tough choices as a pregnant teenager (The Winter Lodge) to a young woman asserting her independence (Dockside) to a single mom struggling to balance college studies with other responsibilities (Snowfall at Willow Lake) to a photographer developing her skills (Fireside) to a working single mom (Lakeshore Christmas). Throughout all these books, Julian, the adrenalin junkie with a romantic soul, and Logan, the troubled, privileged kid turned sober, devoted father, have been part of Daisy’s story. I’m sure I wasn’t the only reader saying “Oh, please, no” when Wiggs ended Lakeshore Christmas with a Daisy-Julian-Logan cliffhanger proposal scene. Then, the next book was not Daisy’s book, but The Summer Hideaway with its focus on new characters. The Summer Hideaway was a good read, a four-star book for me, but ah, the agony of waiting until 2011 for Daisy’s book. Well, 2011 is here, and Marrying Daisy Bellamy (Mira) will be officially released on January 25.
Daisy Bellamy has grown up. A successful wedding photographer in Avalon, she has dreams of doing something bigger with her art. Her three-year-old son Charlie is a joy, the center of her life and her heart, but she still thinks about Julian Gastineaux, who has had a starring role in her dreams since she first met him. She’s pleased that Logan O’Donnell, an almost life-long friend and the father of her son, has settled in Avalon and become a hard-working businessman, a homeowner, and a father very much involved in Charlie’s life.
Julian Gastineaux is about to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He has received his first assignment, one that will challenge him on all levels. He’s also set to propose to Daisy.
I hesitate to say more for fear of spoilers. I’ll just say that I had given the possibilities of Daisy’s HEA considerable thought before I read this book. The romantic in me hoped she and Julian would end up together. The pragmatist said, “But think how good it would be for Charlie for his mom and dad to be together, and there are different kinds of love.” The writer thought that a new man for Daisy, who would choose to leave both Julian and Logan as just important parts of her past, would be different. But I never once imagined what Wiggs does with this triangle. I was totally surprised and totally engaged. I will say if I didn’t have the habit of reading the end first, I might not have finished this book. But knowing the payoff, I could endure the emotional roller coaster.
From Summer at Willow Lake on, I have been captivated by the Bellamys, their extended family, their friends, and their neighbors and looked forward to the next book. One of the strengths of the series is Wiggs’s ability to create a world that seduces her readers to enter this idyllic community filled with interesting, likeable people who struggle with real world issues but who find healing and happiness in Avalon. Small wonder that most of us are so eager to return. In the case of MDM, that strength in creating a full world also led to my one dissatisfaction with the book. It answers readers’ questions about the earlier cliffhanger scene. It fills in the backgrounds of Julian and Logan, allowing readers to understand more fully the men they became. A number of old friends make appearances, and I for one hope Sonnet’s story will be further developed in future books. But all of these pieces of the Avalon world, and the triangle itself, mean that the H/H actually have little time for the two of them. I wanted to see them together more. Therefore, I give Book 8 in the Lakeshore Chronicles 4.5 stars. I did find it lacking in this one area, but it was a memorable, engrossing read. And maybe I’ll be more willing to consider the next love triangle romance that comes my way.
Are you a Lakeshores Chronicles fan? Who do you want Daisy’s hero to be? How do you feel about love triangles in fiction?