I’ve seen quite a bit of chatter on the old Interwebs this year about novellas — whether they’re good or bad, whether they’re proliferating, and so on. This probably goes without saying, since I’ve written a number of novellas, but I like them. A novella done well is a delightful thing — usually focused tightly on a single problem, and consumable over a short period of time.
This week’s recommendation is for two novellas I’ve enjoyed recently —
After eleven years of marriage, Léa Laurier knew her husband. Knew how he could take on responsibility for a world-famous restaurant, a wife, and her two teenage siblings at nineteen years old and never falter, never tire. Knew his drive and his ambition, that took him to the stars. Knew how briliant his gray eyes looked when they met hers for just one moment across a host of cameras. She didn’t know why she was so tired. She didn’t know why she needed to just get away. For a while. Maybe a week or two. A month. She’d be back.
After eleven years of marriage, international superstar chef Daniel Laurier knew his wife. Knew how she could lavish caring on everyone, her siblings, his staff, and most especially him. Knew the way her face lit up when he won yet another television contest, and the way she hugged him for it. Knew how her hair smelled when he sank into bed exhausted at one in the morning. He didn’t know what to do when he came home from a consulting trip to find she’d disappeared to remote South Pacific island: I just needed to get away for a little while. A week or two. I’ll call you.
As the whole solid world under his feet turned into a sandcastle in the tide, Daniel knew only one thing: whatever was wrong with his marriage or his wife, he wasn’t losing her. So as a top chef, he did the one thing he always knew how to do: turn up the heat.
Fans of Making It Last (or of Laura Florand’s other work) will probably like this one, which comes at a lot of the same elements from a different direction. Léa and Daniel are still deeply in love, but they’ve become alienated from each other. Work is one culprit here, life transition another, and deep-seated misunderstandings a third. Florand does an exquisite job of presenting the entirety of a marriage in this one small package, making us care about her characters, and leaving us in a happy place of certainty as they find each other again. Also, it’s so sexy! Highly recommended.
And we’re all reading Amber Lin’s Lost Girls series, right? RIGHT? Well, the third installment released this week, and it’s fantastic. Here’s the blurb —
Rose Murphy is ready to break free from her brother’s control. She’s ready to open her own ballet studio. And most of all, she’s ready to live without fear. So when she sees her brother’s lawyer, the man she’s lusted after for years, she gives in to her body’s desires.
A sexy show through her bedroom window whets both their appetites. On Drew’s next visit, he returns the striptease favor. Mutual masturbation gives way to a naughty late night phone call. She’s a breath away from everything she’s hoped for, but not everyone wants them to be together. When the relationship comes to light, their sensual peace may be shattered.
Amber’s work cuts deeper than that of anybody else I can think of — her prose is beautiful, the dark emotions are darker, the sex is sexier … I don’t know. She’s just more. There’s something so satisfying about this story for me, too, because it’s one in which years of longing finally pay off. It has a fairy-tale quality, for all its kind of doomed realism, that suits the story’s heroine — a ballerina, but not the kind who twirls around inside a music box. The kind whose joints are giving out after years of grueling work.
I don’t know. I just love it.