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Flowers and Stone Paperback – 8 April 2013
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This is a candid love story - a fictionalized memoir - told in the third person. The author has a wonderful engaging style of writing with much showing by means of excellent, often fast-paced dialogue, enhanced by specific scene setting - important because she paints a clear picture of the music and times of Country Music in Texas. I simply couldn't put it down. I loved this book for its originality and telling things just as they happened, from the moment Darlina and Luke make love for the first time, to where Luke thinks he does Darlina a favour by insisting she leaves him alone and he drops her off at her sister's house. A highly recommended read.
I received a PDF copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Flowers and Stone is a true story based on the lives of Rick and Jan Sikes. Roguish, Texan musician, Luke Stone, sweeps the naïve, nineteen-year-old Darlina Flowers off her feet. In a short time, her whole life becomes entwined with his, and she cannot imagine living without him. When Luke distances himself from her, she cannot understand why. Then tragedy strikes, and they are torn apart when Luke is arrested and convicted for bank robbery.
This debut novel is paced steadily, and sometimes it felt on the slow side to me. In places, I struggled to keep going, as my attention slipped time and again. For me, the repetitiveness of the gigs, dancing, drugs, and deeply-in-love theme, without an awful lot of change, grew old. Plot development did come, but too slowly for my tastes, and nothing surprising transpired. The preface showed me where the storyline was headed, and the rest of the book built toward that. The narrative is written from the viewpoint of the two main characters, in third person, and hops from head to head without anything to indicate the change to the reader. Likewise, scene shifts and time jumps occur with no indication. Some of these jumps occur at the end of a run of dialogue, which means you are reading a conversation, and then all at once hours and hours have passed. With the simple introduction of an extra line space between paragraphs, this issue would be resolved, as it would be clear that there is a break. I felt further distanced from the characters because of the passive writing style, and the frequent use of filter words (he/she knew, heard, etc).
The Texan music scene is written authentically, and the characters have been well drawn, and showed some small changes as their story evolved. This book is the first in a planned trilogy, but works well as a standalone novel. This is a love story that romance lovers can savour all the more because it is based on a true story. It gets 6 out of 10 TRB stars, which equates to 3 out of 5 on other rating scales. If you like a read with a gentle pace, and love stories based on real life, and don’t mind a bit of head hopping here and there, then I would say that you are likely to enjoy this book.
Top international reviews
Theirs is a love story like no other. All the trials and tribulations they had to overcome are so inspiring.
I thoroughly recommend this book as it really grips your heart
After book one of this first series, I am truly hooked on her writing. In this debut novel, Jan Sikes creates the scenes in a way that makes you feel you are a part of the story. I could hear the music, see characters with their smiles and tears, and more than once had to dry my eyes as emotions coursed through me at different places in this story.
This complex love story centers around Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers, an unlikely couple at first glance. Luke, an experienced musician and older man, and Darlina a young inexperienced woman, learn many lessons from each other. I like how Luke, smitten early on for this special girl, goes to extraordinary lengths to find out if he should be serious. Ms. Sikes details the steps leading up to this meeting, though this meeting touched a chord of sweetness in my heart and kept me until the end of this book.
“ The bell rang, announcing someone’s arrival. She half turned. “May I…” She paused in mid-question, shocked to see Luke standing there with the trademark crooked grin on his face. “…Help you?” she finished.
“That is exactly what I’ve been asking myself,” Luke replied.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to see if you were for real or a figment of my imagination.”
Luke’s smile widened, “Yes, for real. You see, I thought maybe I just made you up so had to come and see.”
Darlina didn’t reply, and Luke quickly continued, I brought you a little something.”
She stood and walked to the open window that separated her and Luke. “Okay, what did you bring me and more importantly, why? After all, you barely know me.”
She wondered what kind of strings might be attached to any gift from Luke Stone.
Luke fished the small box out of his pocked and handed it to her. Their hands briefly touched, and an electrical current passed between them. She looked up at Luke, then down at the box.
“Open it,” Luke encouraged.
Darlina gasped as she opened the box to find the delicate gold heart necklace. “Oh, Luke, how beautiful. I’m not sure what to say.”
“Well, you could say thank you, and you could say that you’ll have dinner with me, just me, and you could say that you’ll give a chance to redeem myself.”
From this point forward I was drawn into the story as these people travel down the road of growing up, growing together, and realizing their differences are key to their magic. In many ways he is a rogue and she is naïve, but in the 70s the music and freedom was what they both wanted and needed. Its easy to recommend this love story to college age and above. There is more to the story and thankfully more books in the series.
This true story doesn't end when the reader comes to the last page. Happily for us, we are able to find out what else happened to these two extraordinary people in subsequent books. I applaud the author's wonderful gift of dialogue and scene-setting and her ability to draw the reader into the heart of the story. Ms. Sikes is a born story-teller both in writing and song.
I wanted to write a review for each book but there was no way I could single out any one book. This series is a love story of the truest kind of love, the kind that continues after death. For Luke (aka Rick Sikes) and Darlina (aka Jan Sikes) there was only one person for each of them. Their love survived prison, starting over several times, severe illness and finally, death. They were both great fighters and survivors, but death comes to all of us and when it was time, Luke knew. But reading their story from the beginning to the end, showed me a couple that were at peace with themselves, who knew who they were and what they wanted and the love that would sustain them through anything. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. I would give it 10 stars if I could. If you want to read a true love story, read this series. You will not regret it.
Jan Sikes, thank you for having the courage and the love to write these books. I have never read a true story like this one anywhere else, not one that moved me to my very core. I cried, I laughed, and I lived your life with you. All that you went through for love but what you received in return from love. I feel your loss, but I also feel your joy. Wonderful series.
The plot moves slowly as it revolves around two lovers and their world of music and nightlife but the good part is that it is unpredictable. It is Sikes’ simple and honest style of writing that would keep you engrossed. Having said that, I must mention that it is repetitive; uses too many curse words and doesn’t tell anything about the most crucial part of the story. Evidence details are missing and the ending is too abrupt. I closed this book, longing for more. Probably the next book contains the answers.
By Jan Sikes
Jan Sikes debut historical romance is based on the true story of a turbulent year of her life in the early 70’s. The author’s talent in making a memoir read like a fiction novel is phenomenal. Author Sikes has an innate talent as a storyteller, bringing the reader into her story and making one feel her emotions.
Nineteen year old Darlina Flowers leaves home to work in a factory in Texas by day and as a go go dancer in a bar at night. This is where she meets the up and coming country western singer, Luke Stone, who is thirty-six. Her naivety and his cavalier worldly ways crackle like lightning in a fast moving summer storm. Luke comes with a lot of baggage; Darlina dreams of romance. Yet they are drawn to each other in a love that surpasses good sense and serious obstacles. Their love is made magical by their differences, like a modern day ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
While the story is action-packed and paces fast, it is also redundant at times, which could be avoided by using a bigger variety of adjectives and dialogue. Darlina and Luke live in a time of booze, pot, drugs and ménage a’ trios sex, which makes Luke seem jaded next to the more innocent and pristine Darlina. Love is the one constant throughout the book, withstanding all obstacles including jail time for Luke. In order to avoid spoilers, it is sufficient to note that this book is highly recommended and won’t disappoint. Those caught up in this amazing love story
will want to read the next book in the series, ‘The Convict and the Rose,’ followed by ‘Home at last.’
Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang
As a reader I was thoroughly transported by this incredible love story into a world of drinking, country music, drugs and impropriety--the innocence of a young girl in love and the love of the man who is trying to protect her, even when he finds himself behind prison doors. Now that I've finished "Flowers and Stone," ‘the next two books in the series--The Convict and the Rose,’ and ‘Home at last’ have become must-reads.
Darlina and Luke’s love was indeed the stuff of which romances are made. They loved, and expressed their love in a way that can almost be described as erotic. When danger came knocking, their love stood firm. Even when Luke was arrested, accused and imprisoned for bank robbery, Darlina stood firmly behind him, believing him innocent, and falsely accused.
Luke too harbored the same deep love for Darlina, but made it his priority to keep her out of his woes. It baffled me though, that when he decided to do so, he did not leave her any money to help her start over… I love reading this story, especially as it helped me appreciate more the sequel to it. I found several editing problems in the story which did not interfere with the flow of the story, but which, I believe the author should go back and address.
The author’s writing style makes this story extremely easy to read with one passage quickly moving toward the next. We get an in-depth look at the two main characters through their behaviors and POV. If the terms soulmates and star-crossed lovers come to mind, they’re well founded, for Darlina (Jan) and Luke (Rick) are just that. Both have led a colorful life, Darlina’s really taking off when she meets Rick. The author’s passion for the love-of-her-life is felt in the emotion she delivers throughout this story. It’s a love affair you can’t helping falling a bit head over heels for.
Authors create intriguing romances for their readers, but in this case, real life makes for a thoroughly enthralling read.
Jan’s excellent writing takes the readers to the scenes and shows the twists and turns of their journey. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
The story of Darlina (Jan Sikes) and Luke (Rick Sikes) is a love story for the ages and fraught with challenges seemingly every step of the way. This series is made more poignant for me by the fact that it is the true account of two people, fictionalized for the benefit of the author!
I give Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes four cups of steaming hot Room With Books coffee and I highly recommend you read it! Flowers And Stone
©August 1, 2017
Patricia, Room With Books
The author writes simply and to the point in an easy to read style. I felt Darlina's pain, her love of Luke and his love for her. I felt like I was there with them. But I know I wasn't because I would never be allowed in a community bar like the ones Darlina experienced in small town America.
I will point out that it lacked a good edit and that's why I gave it 4 stars. It was too distracting to ignore. And in spite of the distractions, I still enjoyed reading it.