I love Lucy!
No, I'm not talking about that Lucy, but since today is Blog Me MAYbe's "May I tell you something about someone else?" day, I'm excited to introduce you to another Lucy: Lucy Banning, the heroine of Olivia Newport's debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (Avenue of Dreams, Book 1).
She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away?
Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating.
When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?
Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.
When I begin a new book, I'm always drawn first to the main character: Is she likable? Is she portrayed realistically? Is there something compelling about her that makes me want to spend the precious few reading hours I have immersed in her world? And as I discovered from the first page of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, without a doubt, Lucy is a character worth getting to know.
In fact, the thing I find most impressive about this debut is Newport's ability to create a strong, memorable heroine. In a time when women of her social class are expected only to marry well and devote their lives to their families and homes, Lucy decides she wants more--an education--and she takes the initiative to go out and get it, even though doing so means keeping a secret from her family and friends. But while she is passionate about following her dreams, for me it's Lucy's heart for others that truly makes her a character worth investing time in. She's very aware of the disparity between her world of privilege and the world of those less fortunate, and she works to better the lives of those in need. And when she learns that Charlotte, a member of the household staff with a secret of her own, is in need of help, Lucy unhesitatingly offers both friendship and support. (Charlotte herself is an intriguing character, and I was pleased to discover that the next book in the series will focus on her.)
The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is a love story, but it's more than that: Newport weaves in elements of suspense, intrigue, and humor in a way that had me turning pages late into the night. I enjoyed this well-paced debut. Lucy Banning is exactly the type of heroine I hope to find within the pages of any book, no matter the genre, and I'm looking forward to the next two novels in this series.
Visit Olivia at her Web site.
(Thank you to Revell Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.)
So tell me, what criteria do you use for selecting the books you read? Have you read any great ones lately that you'd like to recommend?