Early last week, I opened up Kathleen Y'Barbo's novel The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, and quite frankly escaped into its pages. Thanks to the craziness of moving into a new home and starting back to school, I felt as though I had little time to actually read. Well, one evening I just decided to pick up this cute book that I won through Library Thing this summer, and can say that it was the first book I actually fell into and read in one sitting. For anyone who is a reader, that is a true delight that we all seek!
Synopsis: Beginning in New York City, upper-class society, beautiful young Gennie is on the verge of marriage to a rich man of her family's choosing. Gennie was not necessarily antagonistic against this relationship, but yearned for a real adventure, like the ones she'd been reading about in her Mae West novels. So when the opportunity popped up to take the place of her maid's sister, to pose as the new nanny of a family in Colorado rather than take a trip off to Boston for the season, Gennie jumped on it.
Arriving in Colorado, Gennie faces a new world, in a new home, with a young girl who is badly in need of a woman's influence. Angry that the father is away on business, leaving her with a young girl who rarely will even bathe without a huge confrontation, Gennie writes him a scathing letter, demanding his return home. Through a few strange coincidences, Gennie and the father (silver baron Daniel Beck) run into one another in town before realizing who each person is, and quickly develop a flirtation and a liking for one another. For Gennie, who is this dashing man with the confident personality? For Daniel, who is this beautiful woman who seems so curious about western life and Mae West stories?
The question then becomes, how will they both feel once they realize who the other person really is? Yes, the seed of interest had been planted, and Gennie got more than she expected with her trip west. Now what will come about with their interest once they get to know one another as the busy father and pushy nanny, and will Gennie get more of a western adventure?
Review: As an admitted fan of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (please tell me someone remembers the show), I quickly fell into this sweet novel by Kathleen Y'Barbo. In a strange coincidence, I had recently caught the John Wayne movie North to Alaska several days prior to picking up the novel, so the fun little connections I saw between the movie, Dr. Quinn, and other westerns I've read or seen made this a delightful read. I didn't necessarily see myself as a "western" fan, but let's admit it. I grew up in Idaho, on a piece of land from my grandpa's farm. Not only that, but my FAVORITE books growing up were the The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set novels. I seriously think I've read them once a year for fifteen years straight! Having said that, I have to say that reading this sweet novel took me back.
Considered a piece of Christian romance, Y'Barbo's novel is clean and yet injects a delightful romance into the story. Although categorized as "christian fiction," I couldn't see where there were many overt references to religious beliefs at all, in fact, I think this term is merely applied to refer to the content of the story as being clean and free of sexual content or excessive violence. The romance between the two main characters did have a bit of "ipecac factor" --that sugary sweet romance that makes you gag and giggle at some of the ridiculously romantic scenes--as my mom and I love to call it, but there is a real story and characters you care about in this novel that keep you reading.
Overall, I really enjoyed the escape factor of this novel. There were those moments of the romantic ridiculous, and yet I would still recommend this novel as a great pleasure read for just about any and all of my friends. Clean, sweet, and a fun little story, The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper makes for a great read for a wide audience.
For more information see: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper: A Novel.