4 out of 4 stars
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Rose Auburn’s contemporary novel Cobwebs of Youth is a beautifully written coming-of-age romance that spans ten years in the life of Lara Cassidy, set in the charming suburbs of London.
The story begins on Lara’s eighteenth birthday. She is shattered after learning that her father whom she has always put on a pedestal has remarried just six weeks after divorcing her mother. When Lara realizes he intends to celebrate her birthday with his young French wife, she is outraged and leaves, vowing never to see him again. Little did she realize, it would be the last time she saw her father alive.
Later the same night while Lara is at a pub drowning her sorrows with her friend Jen, she meets a mysterious older man to whom she feels an attraction. When she asks him to buy her a drink, he realizes she is already intoxicated and offers her a glass of water instead. Insulted that his response to her flirtations is more protective than romantic, Lara is embarrassed and in her vulnerable state, also insulted. Even so, she is intrigued. Not knowing his name, she mentally nicknames him Bikerman because of the leather motorcycle jacket he wears.
Ten years later after her father dies, Lara inherits his house and is living there and working as a children’s book illustrator. She is in a relationship with Ed, a successful attorney who is more often than not, distracted by his work. Though her mother and friends insist Ed is right for her, Lara grows increasingly discontent with the relationship. Her thoughts frequently drift back in time to the intriguing stranger she met all those years ago. She finally ends the relationship with Ed and during a night out with friends, returns to the pub where she originally met Bikerman. Once again, their paths cross. This time they are properly introduced and she learns his name is Rob. They begin spending time together and a relationship like none Lara has ever known develops.
When it comes to romantic novels, I rarely feel compelled to binge-read. However, once I picked up this book, I could barely put it down. Auburn’s characters are refreshingly relatable. The dialogue-driven content was so realistic, that I often felt I was listening to Lara’s conversation with her friends in the same room rather than reading a book. I also particularly enjoyed watching Lara’s confidence grow as she blossomed in both her professional and personal life. That’s not to say that once she met Rob that everything fell into place. As Lara stepped out of her comfort zone to embrace changes that evolved from her new romance, her friendship with Jen became strained. The conflicts that she faced with her mother, friends, and the men in her life were realistically portrayed. I also found her struggle with unresolved father issues after his death stirring and quite believable. Auburn kept the story engaging by skillfully balancing Lara’s passion for her career with her relationships and her own self-discovery.
I noted several grammatical errors but I honestly cannot provide an example of anything that detracted from my reading pleasure. I wholeheartedly rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who appreciate empowering coming-of-age stories featuring strong female characters, as well as fans of romantic novels. As intimate scenes are seductive but not explicit, and I didn’t notice any instances of profanity, it may also appeal to a young adult/teen audience. This book probably isn’t for fans of racy romance novels or erotica.
Cobwebs of Youth
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