Morning little bloggers, hope you are all well! Once again thank you to the author Kat Canfield for sending her book ‘Only Love Twice.’ I’ve thought a lot about this review over the last couple of days and it’s been a little tough to write Sometimes I can see the sheer time and effort that has been put into creating a book and yet, it doesn’t quite transcribe over and entertain the reader. I found reading this book a struggle, which was a real shame, so this review will take mostly a constructive line, whilst looking at the parts that I did really enjoy. As always my email inbox is filled to the brim with new requests however almost all my time is currently going into reading and reviewing before I start my internship at the end of June so get your requests in and I will get to them as soon as I can! But enough of that, onto the review.
In the aftermath of 9/11 Americans have largely become suspicious of persons of Saudi heritage. But a fifty-something retired police officer from South Florida takes a chance in meeting a man a bit younger than her who is a Saudi National. Being a businessman who grew up in England as the son of a diplomat, he is used to western ways. Communicating through the Internet and smartphones, Madison and Saleem become friends and find they share much in common. Madison is a widow of two years whose driving passions are her horse showing and her business. She has no children so her horse is her child. Meanwhile Saleem is an oil company executive, divorced, with four children and a bit of a playboy reputation. To further complicate matters, Madison is Jewish. But she has a curiosity about the Muslim faith and a love of the Middle East in general. Can these two polar opposites find the second love of their lives in a post 9/11 world? Only Love Twice is a novel about the challenges of cross-cultural romance in a world fractured by religious and cultural divides.
The book revolves around Madison, an independent individual who although wealthy, is widowed and looking for someone to share her life with. She runs an explicit website, where she meets Saleem, a prince in a long line of Saudi Arabian descendants. Meeting through the Internet the two must find a way to connect with the other, however once meeting find that although from completely different worlds and from two different not only religious but cultural divides, they have a lot more in common than either could have ever have thought possible. One of the things that kept my attention throughout the book was the different lifestyles that are continually contrasted throughout the book. Looking at the life of a retired police officer against the life of a Saudi Arabian Prince gives for an intriguing discussion of two different cultures and ideologies. By connecting two people from such different backgrounds and meshing them together created warmth in the conversations between the two characters. I also liked how apparent it was that the author appeared to have used a lot of her own personal history in the book.
Unfortunately as a reader I found however, that there were lots of problems with the book. At the start I thought that the writing style was easy to read but as the book continued I became more exhausted with the lack of style and at how stilted the writing was. Unfortunately the writing style is also incredibly monotonous and I found myself skipping through chunks of the writing to get to the real story line. It felt very mechanical and I couldn’t help but put the book down for a couple of days, unable to warm to the characters due to the lack of warmth that was being exuded due to the writing style. Additionally the story lacked a real story; it sounds terrible but the book only really highlights a seemingly very drawn out explanation of how the two get together. I missed the turbulence of the story; there is no struggle, or pain, or real conflict and the two seem incredibly happy for the entirety of the book. Although there is a discussion of the history of the two characters and we do meet a number of side-characters, there appears to be very little going on which is a real shame. I also thought on completing the book that it could have been condensed a large amount as it became quite tedious quite early on. It seemed that the author was really describing her own personal experiences, there was a lot of mention about horse-riding, and of competitions which are obviously close to the authors heart; however on reflection, I think that there should been more passion, and drama, which would have made for a much more exciting read.
Despite all of this, I think that the main problem is that the book was not written for my age group, and after looking at reviews written by other readers; many have praised the book on looking at how people can fall in love at any age and with someone from any background. The book revolves on the idea that you can fall in love for a second time and I think that for an appropriate age range this book may have been received better. I did enjoy parts of it however I think the writer needs to focus on telling a story rather than simply describing the action. At times there was lovely flowing description but it was so far and in-between that I had to go back and find bits that I really enjoyed to write the review. I think this author has potential however the focus needs to be on giving a story, developing the characters, creating emotion and drawing the reader in rather than focusing on just what is happening.