Sunday, March 18, 2007

Review: The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith

All right, here is my review of The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith. I've first heard of this book over at Dear Author, where both Jane and Jayne has reviewed it. It got a really good review and seriously, I was intrigued. However, I'm really glad I ordered it as this was an excellent book.

The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith: 4.25/5

The Crossroads Cafe is the story of how tragedies have changed the lives of Cathryn Deen and Thomas Mitternich and how they were able to start over, together. Cathryn Deen is a famous actress, better known for her flawlesss and beautiful face than her talents or personality. Her father's side was rich and sophisticated, the complete opposite of her mother's which she had no contact with since the death of her mother when she was a child. However, she has people who cares for her back in North Carolina and her grandmother's house. It is towards these people she turns to when in a car accident, her right side (face and body) was injured and scarred by third degrees burns. Her new husband has divorced her, she has no friends in Hollywood, her career is over and she becomes a total recluse, not allowing anyone to see her new face. However, she's been able to go on so far with the help of Delta, her grandmother's friend, and Thomas, a stranger who is friend with Delta and has been writing her letters. When her attempt at suicide is stopped by Thomas, Cathryn is angry at him and goes down to North Carolina, where she decides to renovate her grandmother's house and live and so starts her new life.

Thomas Mitternich was an architect in New York. The day of the 9/11 tragedy, he was on a tight schedule for a project and so, argued with his wife on who would keep their son for the day. As a result, his wife went with their son to the World Trade Center and they did not survive. After spending months researching the ruins and helping the firefighters, he finally has the confirmation about his wife and son's deaths. Overcome with guilt, Thomas leaves everything behind and embarks on a journey. He ends up in North Carolina, staying in a cabin next to Cathryn's grandmother's house, half-living his life. Sometimes, he'll get through a good period while other times, his life is black and he drinks a lot. In simple words, his life and future is uncertain as he still entertains some dark thoughts about committing suicide...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

: All right, as I said, this book is really good and there is much more than what I wrote in the synopsis. Perhaps, even too much. All in all however, if you're interested in something different than most of the romances on the market, this is it for you. It is very old style, touching and poignant.

The Characters - I thought at first that Cathryn was a bit superficial at first, just before the accident and also, not very realistic - as in she was deluding herself a bit. However, she's much stronger than she appears to be, but that's to be expected. Also, I would say that her behavior, post-accident is quite understandable. Not much was written about her past, but I like the person she became. As for Thomas, wow, what a complex character. Losing a wife and a son is never easy, but when you feel guilt over it and when you have people who plays on your guilt... Anyway, I thought that Thomas was a far more interesting character than Cathryn, but both characters are haunted, complex and intriguing.

Story & Writing - I like the story, it was emotional and touching, with great characters. However, I thought that the timeline was perhaps a bit unrealisitic and that it wasn't possible to have all the events happen in one year. Some complained that it seems unlikely that all the people around Cathryn and Thomas all went through difficult events in their life, but I think that Ms. Smith actually pulled it out really well. It didn't look obvious for me, just that life was not easy. As for Ms. Smith writing style, I'd say traditional and old style... a bit like Nora Roberts. Very smooth, no explicit sex scenes and very invested. It isn't that the book wasn't witty, but sometimes you read a book and it's very funny and enjoyable, but it seems the content is empty... but it is really not the case with Crossroads Cafe. It's full, with a lot of depth.

The Cover - The cover is quite simple and I like the color... however, I thought they could have put something else and still fits.

Am I keeping this book? Yes, it's totally worth it.

Anything else? I've been looking out for Ms. Smith's backlist with a lot of success :D Also, I've read Charming Grace and Sweet Hush, you can find my reviews here over at Ames' Thrifty Reader.