The Year of Luminous Love by Lurlene McDaniel
I never would have picked this book based on the title or the cover art. It was definitely a take a risk kind of thing and I am so glad I did. I’m not a romance reader and the title and cover gave the impression the book might be solely about romantic love. The subjects associated with the title reveal it is about the different kinds of love…Friendship, Family Life, and Romance.
Ciana, Eden and Arie are best friends who just graduated from high school. They live in rural Tennessee where Ciana is managing the family farm her grandmother leaves to her and her alcoholic mother. Eden has grown up in a broken home with a bipolar mother who randomly skips town when she is off her meds. At 14 Eden met Tony, her now over-controlling boyfriend, who makes a living as a drug lord. Arie has a loving and fully-supportive family; however she has been fighting cancer since she was a little girl. Her family celebrates her graduation and remission by getting Arie the horse she’s always dreamed about.
Arie can’t believe her eyes when she realizes Jon, her childhood cowboy crush, is back from Texas and will be training her and her new horse. Unfortunately, love is cruel and Jon has already given his heart to someone else, Ciana.
Ciana takes her inheritance and plans a three month trip to Italy to help them all escape for a while. Eden from a life of imprisonment by her boyfriend, to fulfill a lifelong dream for Arie as she always wanted to see Italy, and to keep Ciana from hurting Arie.
They all have secrets they’ve kept from each other, but one secret is a matter of life and death. Will they all find happiness and can their friendship endure to the end?
I really enjoyed this book, it was unexpected, it took turns I was sure were going to disappoint, but didn’t. There are a few things I would change, the title, the cover art, and the age range. I think the story is more appropriate for ages 14 – 19. I am still hoping this book is part of a series, because I would like to know more about the character’s futures.
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