I was never drawn to reading romance novels. Last year, though, introduced me to more than one genre that I had not read before. Romance was one of those genres. Still, really sweet romance that is only about the romance is not my cup of tea. Mary Crawford’s romance novels are different, there is much more depth to her plots and her characters. Since November of last year I read all five books in the Hidden Beauty series by Mary Crawford, admittedly not in order; though, the books are stand alone stories so it didn’t matter. I enjoyed each one and am impressed with how she brings real life problems into her stories to create amazingly believable characters. She touches on real issues in our society to bring awareness to readers. Her topics include physical disabilities; emotional trauma from abuse, domestic violence, rape, PTSD; and more. The problems her characters overcome are real and she is particularly insightful to everyday challenges for people who have to live with them. I love the reality of her characters and their stories. Her books promote strong, supportive relationships among family and friends. Below are my reviews of the individual books in this series.
Until the Stars Fall From the Sky
I’ve not read a lot of romance novels, but of all the ones I have read never have I laughed so much as I did reading Until the Stars Fall From the Sky. Nor have any others brought me to tears like this one did. This novel is more than just a romance story. There is depth to this story dealing with several issues in our society. Problems that people with disabilities encounter and abuse are both realistically portrayed as an integral part of the plot. Strong, supportive relationships with family and friends are important to her characters and the story. The romance is tender and well done with a superbly written subplot.
So the Heart Can Dance
After reading Until the Stars Fall From the Sky, the first of her Hidden Beauty Novels, I wanted to read more of Mary Crawford’s work. I got the second book right away and began reading. This one didn’t make me cry like the first one and there were not as many places where I laughed as I did with the first novel, but, there were still some places that did make me laugh.
What really impressed me was the author’s level of understanding of the deaf culture. I’ve worked at an Independent Living Center and been around many differently abled people. I’ve had many deaf friends since my childhood. The deaf have always had a place in my heart and I have learned much about their culture over the years. Mary Crawford’s understanding and portrayal is excellent.
She also does a very good job depicting the traumatic effects rape has on victims and just how difficult and slow it is to overcome those effects. In this love story the author has joined both of these elements to weave an engaging and entertaining plot. The character development with alternating first person point of view laced with each character’s back story results in fully developed characters that the reader can relate to. Emotions are easily felt by the reader and both the dialog and actions are absolutely believable.
This author deals with social issues with such depth of understanding that she is either personally familiar with people who have been through the hardships she portrays or she has diligently done her homework. In either case, her stories are well written and this one is no exception. The story is well developed and the characters are anything but shallow. This is a love story with depth and meaning.
Joy and Tiers
Joy and Tiers is another good romance by Mary Crawford. Heather and Tyler both have personal issues to overcome and each puts up a front so others don’t see their internal struggles. Ms. Crawford has a talent for infusing real world struggles into her characters and making them come to life. In this romance poor self-esteem and PTSD come together to form a mutually healing relationship. The plot centers around how the romance develops through hardships and breaking down walls each has thrown up to protect their fragile emotions. Subplot story lines that mimic reality make the lives of her characters believable. Though I did not cry or even feel angry at times I probably should have, I did laugh several times at the humor. Recommended for adult romance fans. There are a couple of relatively mild sex scenes.
An excellent romance with a bit of a mystery woven in. The author, as usual, has well-developed characters and a good plot. The hero is a soldier who is an amputee and the heroine is an investigative journalist. When Madison uses her sister’s wedding as a cover to flee from a stalker she meets Trevor and the romance ensues. There is a bit of a mystery to this novel and I do like a good mystery. The ending is quite satisfying. There are some relatively mild sexual scenes so would not recommend this for teens under 18. No real emotional reaction was elicited from me though I was quite engaged in the characters and the story.
Love Seasoned is the fourth book by this author I have read. I enjoyed this story as much or more than the other three I’ve read. I love how Ms. Crawford includes some disability, illness, or emotional trauma into the characters of her books. These issues make her characters that much more real. This story was one I was able to relate to on a deeper level because the love story is not youthful new love. Rather, the main characters are older and have lost the loves of their lives many years before. I can imagine that I would be devastated by the loss of the love of my life much like the main characters in Love Seasoned. Much like the characters, I couldn’t imagine ever having another love. Denny’s gentle and patient courtship of Gwendolyn is a great portrayal of the cultural mores this couple grew up with. Her characters are well-developed and believable, there was a great plot, also well developed. Over all this was an excellent read. There were times I snickered at the humor, was a bit angry at the stubbornness of a character, and times I was brought to tears, both of sadness and joy. Certainly these are signs of a very well written tale.
At one time I wasn’t a fan of romance, but, Mary Crawford weaves such good stories that include more than just the romance, but problems that everyday people have to deal with. I’ve enjoyed every one of her romance stories and Love Seasoned tops the list for me.
You can find all of Mary Crawford’s books on her Amazon author page.