I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised after getting into the first chapter of Rhapsody of Restraint how quickly I was captivated and drawn in by the character of Lauren Hind and her midlife relationship issues. In recent years I have been a reader and lover of serious non-fiction and biographies, rather than romance genres, but this new book was recommended to reignite my enthusiasm for compelling fictional writing. I have not been disappointed, enjoying hugely the fast pace, unusual conflicts and tensions which manifest themselves throughout the book. This novel makes you think hard about the balance and resolutions which face a strong independent woman needing to reconcile her true inner ambitions and desires with the realities of her relationships and her science career. I very much welcome the return of a love of fiction again, and very much look forward to reading the next one in the series.
Once opened, this book is difficult to put down. The intriguing Lauren Hind draws you into her story where the characters and twists and turns of her rollercoaster journey constantly surprise. Behind the cool, intelligent and seemingly worldly wise scientist lies an alter ego who emerges like a chrysalis from a series of challenging sexual and emotional encounters. A kaleidoscopic world of science, romance, fashion and sex hold the reader in suspense from beginning to end. Four stars for a first novel and good to hear that there will be more.
This is the advantage of digital publishing: a gem like this would have gone right under the radar of established publishers. It would have been our loss. In Lauren Hind, Roy Baldwin has created a memorable scientist protagonist, who, tough, logical and fashionable draws the reader in, as she deals with all the adversities middle age - and the enjoyably bonkers plot - throw her way.
Roy Baldwin clearly had a lot of fun writing and researching his first novel, and it rubs off on the reader. There is a bit of nuclear physics, there is a sunny Sicilian setting, there is a dash of haute couture and there is a more than generous dollop of love and sex. In short, it's as if a mad scientist had decided to accelerate your average chick-lit novel at the speed of light to collide it with a Stephen Hawking lecture on nuclear physics: this is what you would get on your monitor.
It's experimental. It's fun. Three to four stars, I've gone for four as it's a first novel and certainly doesn't read like one.