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April 18, 2008

Love Walked In



Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Contemporary Fiction
2005 Dutton
Finished on 4/3/08
Rating: 4.75/5 (Fabulous!)




"My life--my real life--started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit and, yes, I know how that sounds."

When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. Charming and debonair, the spitting image of Cary Grant, Martin sweeps Cornelia off her feet, but as it turns out, Martin Grace is more the harbinger of change than the change itself....

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. Taking inspiration from famous orphans (Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, and even Harry Potter) Clare musters the courage to seek out her estranged father. When the two of them show up at Cornelia's cafe, Cornelia and Clare form a bond as unlikely as it is deep. Together, they face difficult choices and discover that knowing what you love and why is as real as life gets.

An acclaimed poet, Marisa de los Santos writes with a careful grace that illuminates the losses and joys of life. Witty and fresh, glowing with big-screen magic moments, Love Walked In marks the arrival of a gifted storyteller and proves that while love is always unpredictable--a dizzying, astonishing turn--it could be as close as your very own front door.

I loved this book! As soon as I realized I was reading another winner by de los Santos, I had to force myself to slow down and savor the story, knowing that once I finished, I wouldn't have a backlist to work through.

Love Walked In is much more than chick lit. (I'd probably call it women's fiction.) While some readers have criticized the book for its predictability and contrived coincidences, I found it to be a very satisfying story filled with humor, touching moments, believable dialogue and characters that stay with you long after you close the book. I enjoyed all the references to classic movies and actors, children's literature and even found the description of Pancit so enticing I immediately went online in search of a recipe to try! I read Love Walked In after the sequel, Belong to Me, and have to say I liked it even better, probably because I really liked the younger Clare in this book. She's also in Belong to Me, but she’s more of a secondary character in the sequel. Oh, but then I really liked the character of Piper in Belong to Me! Hmmm, let's just say I loved both books and that I'm thrilled to have discovered Marisa de los Santos. I can hardly wait for her to write her next novel. Move over, Elizabeth Berg! de los Santos is my new must-buy-in-hardcover favorite.

Fans of Jeanne Ray, Elizabeth Berg and Anna Quindlen won't be disappointed. I recommend both Love Walk In and Belong to Me for a great summer reading combo. Meanwhile, I hope Marisa is working on her third book, hopefully with more of Cornelia, Teo, Piper and Clare!

18 comments:

  1. So, I have both of her books now just waiting to be read (if I ever finish PILLARS OF THE EARTH, which I am enjoying very much). Maybe summer is a good thought or even vacation? What do you think?

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  2. I am looking forward to reading both of her books on your recommendation. You write about them so enthusiastically. My husband lived in the Philippines for a couple years before we were married and loved pancit. When we lived in San Diego there was a wonderful Philippino restaurant we frequented that served pancit and other favorites such as chicken adobe and lumpia.

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  3. Well, as you know I agreed with you on Belong to Me...so I'm sure this one will be another great read for me! Thanks for the terrific review, Les!

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  4. Hooray, another winner! Glad to read you enjoyed this one, too, Les.

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  5. I have Belong to me on my wish list -didn't realise it was a sequel! Better add this one too ;)

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  6. Les,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!!!! I am in love with your blog! I just started reading posts and I could be here all day quite happily reading every single word you have written.

    We have a few things in common....I am 46, some of my favorite books are 50 Acres and A Poodle, All Over But the Shoutin' and A Prayer for Owen Meany.

    I really hope you get to see Elizabeth Berg!!!!! You won't regret any effort you have to make to see her. She is so much fun and so warm and friendly!

    Hey, I have a copy of the latest book Jeanne Marie Laskas wrote. I was going to put it in my take to the used book store pile. It is very good, but not as good as her first. If you would like me to send it to you, shoot me an email at duetabode@comcast.net, I would be happy to do so.

    I will be back....if I didn't have to go to a bridal shower today I would be here all day!

    love
    laura

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  7. Off the subject, I noticed you're reading The Shadow of The Wind. I read it a few years ago, and have it coming up again in my Book Club so I'll have to reread it. i remember it being good, but tricky to follow. I had to make a list of characters for myself, being the elementary school teacher that I am.)

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  8. After your review of Belong to Me I knew I wanted to read it but I decided to start with this one first. I'm about 50 pages into it and am loving it! I hope to finish it this week and then move on to Belong to Me

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  9. Kay - Both of these books will be perfect after you finish Pillars of the Earth. You'll want something a bit lighter and these will fit the bill. They're perfect for a vacation, as you can pick them up and set them down without losing momentum (although, you won't want to put them down!). If you're flying, they'll be the perfect distraction from those long waits on the tarmac or between flights.

    Speaking of Pillars of the Earth (which I loved), I still have the sequel in my stacks. I probably need to allow a month of solid reading for that one!

    Booklogged - It's been a long time since I've found an author I've enjoyed as much as de los Santos.

    I had no idea (or maybe I just don't remember you mentioning it) you lived in San Diego. Me, too! Do you remember where the Philippino restaurant was located? My sister-in-law makes THE best lumpia. She showed me how once, and they really aren't that difficult. Just a lot of chopping!

    Wendy - Hope it's another winner for you. Glad you enjoyed the review.

    Joy - Yep. It's one of those books that when I finished the last sentence I hugged it to my chest and quietly whispered, "Good book!"

    Mrs. S. - Yep, you'll definitely want to read both.

    Bellezza - Tricky is exactly what I've been thinking! I'm about 200 pages in and it's becoming a bit of a challenge. I'm not overly enthusiastic about the story and I'd probably ditch the book if it weren't a group read. Having said that, who knows. Maybe it'll wind up in my Top Ten for the year. I still have 300 pages to go, so ya never know.

    Iliana - Yay! Another fan. Isn't it great?! We all need to send Marisa fan mail and ask her to write a third with all our favorite characters. :)

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  10. Laura - And I'm in love with your blog! I plan to go back and read as many posts from your archives as time will permit. Thank you for your sweet words about mine.

    I, too, noticed (when I went to your profile) that we share a few things in common. The three books you listed in your comment here are amongst my All-Time Favorites, as is A Fine Balance.

    I will certainly do everything I can to see Elizabeth Berg next month. I have to be honest, though. Her past few books have been a bit disappointing. I hope it's just been a fluke. Maybe it was poor timing on my part. In spite of the disappointments, I will probably always read whatever she publishes. There was even a time when I joked and said I'd go so far as to read her grocery list, that's how much I loved her books!

    Oooh, I'd love to read Laskas' book. I've had it on my Amazon list forever, but just never got around to getting a copy. Now, you're referring to Growing Girls, right? I've read (and loved) The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and A Family. I'll drop you an email. Thanks for the offer!

    So nice to meet you!

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  11. Lesley,

    I found my way to you via Maude & Mozart. How excited I was to find someone with similar book tastes. When I see all the books we have in common, I feel like I've found a trusted friend for your other recommendations. I posted about "Love Walked In" about a month ago. And, I had a post planned for Hugo Cabret. It must truly be the only truly unique book I have ever read. I simply adore it! I could go on and on, but I must stop so I can read your old posts and find more books. Happy reading!

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  12. Hmmm, it seems like this is the "it" book around blogland. Since you and I happen to have pretty similar taste in books, I am definitely going to check this one out!

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  13. Relyn - Thank you for stopping by! I've been perusing your blog and absolutely love the music on your playlist! Dubussy (Claire De Lune) and Yo-Yo Ma (Bach Cello Suite No. 1) are my favorites!! I haven't listened to anymore, but you can be sure I will. I may have to incorporate this "playlist" idea to my blog!

    Off to read your post for Love Walked In. Have a great weekend!

    Stephanie - Go for it! It's quite the winner.

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  14. I adore these books. I'm happy to find a felklow fan!

    I had the pleasure of meeting the author last year at a book expo...she was signing right next to Elizabeth Gilbert of eat, pray, love fame, so of course Gilbert's line was out the door and de los Santos had no one in her line when I showed up with my copy of Love Walked In. She was very nice in person...I hope she keeps writing and writing and writing!

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  15. 'Love walked in' sounds like a book I will HAVE to read. I 've just found your blog I would like to add it to 'my places to visit' list hope this is ok. Best wishes.

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  16. Softdrink - I adore them, too. I would love the opportunity to meet the author. Lucky you! Thanks for stopping by with your comment.

    Zetor - It's a wonderful read. I've been recommending it all month!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Of course it's fine to add me to your blog roll. Now I'm off to visit your blog!

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  17. Wow! After reading your recommendation I jumped on this book when I saw it sitting on the "New Authors" table at the library!! I was not disappointed. I felt like I was reading a poem from start to finish; there were no unimportant words. I realize that she uses the same words I use, she can just assemble them more deftly. They were luscious! At this point the characters are fresh in my mind and I don't know if I am willing to let them change in another book. I will sit and be with them awhile longer and then maybe someday I will want to read the sequel. Thanks for a great review - it led me to such an enjoyable experience. Gaye

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  18. Gaye - I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. I'm still thinking about the characters, missing them just a bit. I don't think you'll be disappointed with the sequel. It's oh, so good! There are some wonderful new characters that you'll love as much as the old, familiar ones. Do give it a try some time in the future. And thanks for the link to my review on your blog. Take care.

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