I don’t keep many books anymore. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become an increasingly jaded reader as I’ve gotten older, or because I have a serious book-buying addiction and am genuinely afraid that one day, my TBR pile will pseudopod around my entire house and my family and I will never be seen again. But once I’ve read something, I generally donate it, resell it, or give it away to make room for the next bag o’ books I’ll lug home from a store or conference.
Back in the ’90s, news broke that Demi Moore bought an entire house just to store her doll collection! If I had scads of money, that would be me, but with books. Unfortunately, since I don’t have scads of money, I’m just approaching a potential guest spot on HGTV’s Clean Sweep.
Last year, Sharon Cullars foiled my (feeble) instinct for order, and I have all three of her books to date in my permanent collection. Since this is my first column as RBTB’s contributing editor in multicultural romance, I thought I’d start out by sharing one of my favorite romance novels, Cullars’ “Again.”
In all her books, Cullars focuses on what I call “realistic paranormal.” In lieu of vampires, shapeshifters, and dragons, she uses paranormal elements that plenty of people claim to have experienced for real -- ghosts, past-life memories, psychic phenomena and so on. “Again” is reincarnation romance at its best and most poignant.
In 1879, Caucasian aristocrat Joseph Luce and widowed African-American schoolteacher Rachel Chase began a doomed love affair. It wasn’t a time when interracial relationships were remotely tolerated, and Luce and Chase know that public discovery would ruin them. As Rachel is keenly aware, she’s the one with the most to lose from their liaison: her reputation, her livelihood, and even her family. But when she tries to end it, Joseph -- young, deeply in love, and all too used to getting his way -- refuses to let her go.
Fast-forward to 2006: While architect David Carvelli sleeps, erotic visions of a woman he doesn’t know play out in his mind. When he meets journalist Tyne Jensen at a friend’s wedding, he knows that she’s the woman of his dreams—perhaps literally.
Tyne has also been having supercharged dreams about a stranger (with really great hands)—though hers are often marred by a nightmarish undercurrent of violence. When she meets David, she feels the same inevitable attraction that he’s experiencing, but her subconscious is screaming that he’s trouble.
David’s mother, a gifted psychic, is the only one who truly understands that David and Tyne have met before. As their modern-day relationship plays out, Carmen Carvelli starts to realize that Rachel and Joseph’s affair ended tragically, possibly at the hand of Joseph himself. And she knows she has to figure out what exactly happened to the couple, before the tragic events of the past play out in David’s and Tyne’s present—Again.
Cullars blends gorgeous prose with edge-of-your-seat plotting and heart-wrenching emotion. Oh, and the love scenes aren’t too shabby, either; this is a Brava, after all.
The past and present politics of interracial relationships make “Again” a unique, emotionally gripping powerhouse of a read, with the added bonus of having plenty of steam heat. If you belong to a book club that can handle some spice, there’s enough in here to keep the conversation going for hours.
Buy the book.
Hypothetically speaking, if you had had a past life, what would it have been? What times periods and places seem to have an almost supernatural draw for you? And do any of you have suggestions on how to cope with my book-hoarding disease, so my friends don't write to Oprah asking her to help me clear the book clutter?
***Next week at RBTB: Mon. Susan Holloway Scott Historical Romance v Historical Fiction SmackDown; Wed. Jenny Gardiner TGTB2S (Thank God They're Back 2 School); Fri. Tessa Dare's Regency Dating Game Pt II.
***Winners Round-up: TNHG -- Well, you who guessed Michelle's fave TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com post to date was the one about the tight breeches were spot on! The randomly chosen commenter who'll rec've Loretta Chase's and Susan Holloway Scott's newest titles is: PrincessBumblebee. Anna DeStefano GuestBlog -- winner of "Dark Legacy," Lisa F.; XoXo wallet, Patricia. Winners, please write Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org w/your snail mail! Congrats!