Kate Clayborn's books are not light and fluffy. They take me a while to read and I usually cry at least once. They are, however, the sort of book that makes me think a lot about how we connect as humans and what it means to start over, to stand still for a moment, to redirect the trajectory of a relationship or a life.
Love Lettering is beautifully written, which means that the pervasive sense of loneliness that marks the first half of the book had me thinking "yes, I too miss having close relationships with other humans. I, too, am struggling to connect to the art I once loved." And I sat and felt lonely until Meg, the main character and POV character, started to connect and regain hope. It's the best and worst part of a good book, sharing emotions with a character.
As I said in my interview with the author, Love Lettering feels like three love stories in one - love of a passion turned career, love of a place (Brooklyn), and love of a person. It's an opposites-attract romance between two people at turning points in their lives. They're on very different paths, but when they intersect, it's fascinating to read. The main characters literally walk the streets of Brooklyn, playing games with letters and signs, finding tiny places to eat delicious food, sitting on a bench when Meg has debilitating cramps. (Reid is a considerate human with strong morals and I loved how he just gave her ibuprofen and kept her company.)
One note - there are several repeated phrases throughout which will either make you smile or irritate you. I'm in the former category, but repeated callbacks are something I know isn't for everyone, so I figured I'd mention it. Reid has a "triple take face," looks like he's from Masterpiece Theatre, has a facial expression Meg deems a "swoonsh," and people are described with font attributes.
I could describe this book for hours, but instead I'll leave you with a favorite passage, which takes place the first time the two have sex. Reid is a numbers person, he graduated at 15 and went to college and grad school for math. He still works in numbers. Meg is a letters person, think of words and phrases and the lines and curves of letters as she moves about in the world. In this scene, she's just told Reid how she has a difficult time reaching climax with a partner. He asks her to show him what she likes, so she does.
He watches, his tongue darting out to lick at the corner of his mouth, his eyes hot and focused, and I know he's seeing me, reading me, cracking this code I'm leaving, letters on this page for him alone, and suddenly I have a new, powerful rush of feeling, a different sort of passion: I hate every man who ever made me feel I shouldn't say what felt right. I hate the way they didn't try to understand. I hate the way they made me feel demanding and difficult for asking them to do something they hadn't figured out on their own; I hate the way they got frustrated and impatient and wounded.
Reid, studious and intense, watches and learns. Meg, careful and cautious, lets herself be vulnerable.
It's lovely, just like the rest of the book.
Suzanne received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.