Susan Reviews Crimson and Clover by Juli Page Morgan

Posted: March 26, 2016 in Reviews
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I was flabbergasted when Juli Page Morgan got in touch with me and offered me a print copy of her novel, Crimson and Clover. What a kind gesture!

And let me tell you, this is a good read. It’s the story of Katie, a woman of independent wealth in the 1960s, who picks up on a whim and moves to England. She hits the ground running, finding a place to stay and getting settled way more easily than I’d ever had thought was possible. But then, I’ve always used all those difficulties as a reason not to do something this crazy.

At a party, Katie meets Jay and the sparks between them are huge. And their story begins.

Make no mistake: this is the story of Katie and Jay. Things like her best friend, Maureen, who has a flair for fashion and convinces Katie to help her start their own business, are secondary. Which is almost too bad, because that’s every bit as interesting—to me—as the rock and roll storyline here. In fact, the Rock Fiction tends to take place off stage, although it’s used at times in interesting ways, like how Jay deals with how badly he misses Katie, and the problems that causes when Katie finds out.

I have to confess that I read this a bit ago and have been dragging my heels about writing this review. We’ll get to that in a second, but for now, I want to focus on this detail. Jay does something when he misses Katie. She has a hard time dealing with that. It’s the big obstacle they have to overcome in their quest for their Happily Ever After, and it shapes the fact that this ending is a Happily For Now. Maybe not even Happily so much as Committed to Working it Out, which is maybe a blend between HFN and HEA.

I do wish Jay’s coping technique had been more fully explored, but at the heart, this is really Katie’s story. It’s about her life, how she grows and changes and learns to live with (or without) Jay. Thus, we don’t get a lot of views of the inside of Jay’s head. We don’t see a lot of him through his eyes and his thoughts. It’s mostly filtered through Katie. This is both good and bad: it’s Katie’s story, as I said. But maybe knowing Jay a little bit better would help grab me a bit harder.

I guess the reason for my heel-dragging is that the book is… it’s okay. It’s a good read; don’t overlook it because it’s time well-spent. It’s just that it’s not fabulous, and while I love the idea of the book being set in the 1960s, other than some language (which sometimes felt a bit forced), I didn’t feel the authenticity of the setting. And I wanted to. The sixties flower children fascinate me, probably because they have become so desperately clichéd, and I was hoping to really get inside them and feel the atmosphere and experience the mindset.

I don’t know. Maybe I did and the mystique I grew up with is just … not a thing. That flower children are people too, and there’s nothing special about them.

I don’t buy it, though. I want more of the subculture, and I want to see how Maureen and Katie grow up and out of it, even a little bit.

However, on the flip side, kudos to Ms. Morgan for not descending into the usual clichés that surround flower children. I’ve got to make a note of that, and I want you all to know that, too.
Still, like I said, this is a good read. Perfect for a plane or the beach. It’s a fun story, fun to see Jay and Katie try to figure it out. Maureen is also a great character, and really, while there are others in the book, including the hapless Adam, the three of them really run this show. As they should. The secondary characters are also well drawn.

While the setting may not have delivered on its promise, I have a feeling that Ms. Morgan will in future books. I’ll gladly read more from her. And she won’t even have to send me a copy to make that happen.

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