LaVyrle Spencer. Three Complete Novels: Years/Twice Loved/Spring Fancy. GP Putnam, 1993. ISBN 978-0399138423 699 pp. $
LaVyrle Spencer was my favorite romance novelist growing up! I used to have all her books, purged them… and am slowly reacquiring. This collection includes Years, about a 18-year-old schoolteacher who falls for the 34-year-old farmer she is boarding with, who has a son her own age. Set in 1917, the war, Norwegian settling of the midwest, and May-December romance are strong themes.
In Twice Loved, Laura’s childhood sweetheart, Rye, believed drowned, returns after four years from a whaling expedition to discover her living with another man (Dan, their childhood companion) and Rye and Laura’s four year old son. Dan doesn’t want to divorce, Laura loves them both, and a threesome is out of the question. An invitation to Rye to ply his cooper’s trade in the Expansion puts pressure on Laura to shit or get off the pot. The island community is practically a character, and the whaling industry and details of 19th century life make this story stand out.
The most contemporary of the group, Spring Fancy is set in the 1980’s, is now dated (and historical?). Physical therapist Winn, engaged to a computer whiz, meets her best friend’s fiance’s best man mechanic Joseph Duggan for the first time at the rehearsal dinner, and the two are smitten. They fight their attraction due to Winnie’s impending marriage, but Jo-jo is really her perfect match, on the racquet ball court and off. Sweet details from the friend’s historically themed wedding and Winn’s career and care for her patients give a lot of depth to this romance.
I re-read all three and found them as unputdownable as ever!