“Two people. One impossible situation. A love story for the 21st Century…” (4.5 stars)
Source- personal copy
Harper Collins Publishers- 2005
Paperback- 599 pages
I absolutely adored Paullina Simons ‘Bronze Horseman’ trilogy when I read it a few years back; three unforgettable books set during and after the siege of Leningrad which seemed to have everything: history, politics, war and romance, though admittedly they weren’t without their flaws (links to my earlier reviews of these novels below). Upon finishing that trilogy, I immediately purchased ‘The Girl of Times Square’ which has since languished on my bookshelf, unread. I’ve picked it up on a couple of occasions, yet I never felt quite ‘in the mood’ for what the summary promised to deliver- or expect that Simons modern day romance would live up to what The Bronze Horseman series did. That all changed a few days ago however, when I eventually picked this novel up and I am so pleased that I finally gave it a shot.
Simons writes a modern day romance just as effortlessly as a historical one. I was drawn into this book immediately- and yet it is so much more than just a love story, with themes comprising of family (particularly the complex relationships between mothers and daughters), friendships, illness, addiction and at the crux of the novel, the mystery of a missing girl.
Lily Quinn is just an average college student, until the sudden disappearance of her best friend and roommate, Amy. Spencer O’Malley, a dogged NYPD Detective is given the case and he and Lily are inexplicably drawn to one another in the process. Spencer is determined not to give up his search for Amy, even though it may uncover damaging secrets about Lily’s own family in the process…
This is a fantastically told story with two main protagonists who I really came to care about and the conflicts in their burgeoning relationship. Without giving away any spoilers, I truly loved Lily who was brave, loyal and yet not without her own flaws. Spencer was a complex character who I initially didn’t like at all, yet as his own personal demons were unveiled he became a person of great depth and was portrayed as more than just a cynical cop. The secondary characters were excellently written too- some of whom I genuinely found infuriating, especially Lily’s parents. Her mother is a self-centred narcissist and I found myself becoming constantly angered at her neglectful, selfish behaviour; but the relationship between her and Lily is a very complex one and a central theme at the heart of this story- so prepare to be frustrated by her if you read this!
This character-driven story offers a real journey for the reader from page one. It has passion and insight and is richly told with some beautifully vivid descriptions as well as clearly showcasing the authors level of research into some more crucial aspects of the plot. Though I devoured this book and read it in a couple of sittings, I did find the ending of the novel to be slightly weaker than I had anticipated- i.e. what had actually happened to Amy and certain people’s motives for carrying out their actions. The ‘Amy’ element of the story was in essence just a platform to build up the love story between Lily and Spencer, which was fine of course, I just felt that it could have been resolved a bit more tightly than it actually was. I also found the authors conclusion to be much ‘nicer’ than I had expected, particularly given all of the plots previous melodrama, though I had anticipated this, given the somewhat disappointing ending of ‘The Summer Garden’ by this author.
If you are a fan of well written contemporary romance then I would not hesitate to recommend this book. It also goes without saying that if you are a fan of historical romantic fiction then you must check out the ‘Bronze Horseman’ series immediately!
Other books by Paullina Simons previously reviewed by Mygoodbookshelf: