Title: An Exaltation of Larks
Author: Suanne Laqueur
Release Date: 22nd November, 2016
Publisher: Cathedral Rock Press
Cover designer: Write Dream Repeat
September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.
September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he’s long suppressed.
Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11’s, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.
“Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn’t yours.”
Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur’s fifth novel explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love’s downfall can turn to exaltation.
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Six ★ Review by Sharon Thérèse
I was dying to put pen to paper even before I’d finished reading this book and that just goes to show you how much I loved it. So many thoughts were spinning in my mind, so many feelings out of control, I can’t begin to tell you the effect it had on me or how the Lark’s story cries out to be read. Despite the length and timespan, every page turned and every word read was an ‘exaltation’. It doesn’t make for heavy reading, either; on the contrary. . . it is a brilliant piece of literature. The author’s polished prose is as such that I had to stop reading many passages, sit back and reflect on them before carrying on. And although her storyline is beyond original, what captured my attention was the detailed account of her characters’ qualities, fears and achievements.
An Exaltation of Larks hit me hard from the word go and kept me on tenterhooks throughout. I felt a strong family oneness about them as they stick together through thick and thin. Life’s obstacles strengthen them, but also show their weaknesses. They live passionately and love completely in a tale of sufferance and exuberance. Unravelling over the course of several generations, I quickly became emotionally invested in the relationship between three beautiful people.
“Second chances are given or made.”
Alejandro’s ability to cope with the aftermath of a childhood experience is when he is accepted with open arms into the safe haven of a loving family. But deep down, his grief keeps rearing up its ugly head. He needs help and has it, but at times in all his desperation, it’s not enough. Javier’s story is no less tragic and just as heart-breaking. The hand of fate plays an unfair game of betrayal. Wrongfully judged at an age when boys aren’t yet men, the price he pays is shockingly harsh. Pushed to breaking point, if he’s going to survive, he’ll have to find ways to build up his inner-strength. And this folk, is just the beginning!
“Being with you feels like home.”
“I shouldn’t have to be your home.”
I truly believe destiny’s road is marked out for each and every one of us. In an unexaggerated tone, this is exactly what happens when these two men’s lives uncannily coincide. Their traits are disturbingly similar on some levels; on others, divergent. Without taking into consideration their backgrounds which will influence them later on in life, a friendship blossoms into something special. It was what they needed, treasured and respected. Warming my heart, they made me smile, laugh out loud, cry and brought out such raw emotions in me that I honestly say I was mentally visualising their ups and downs. I didn’t think it were ever possible for an author to paint a picture of their protagonists’ personalities so vividly, but Ms Laqueur did it to perfection!
“Many people like being alone, but nobody likes being lonely. I became lonely. . .”
Valerie! Goodness me, apart from leaving me totally speechless; in contrast, her unforgettable character had me praising her in this read’s entirety. She is the backbone of this story, holds tightly on the family reins and keeps the banter flowing in such a natural manner that I couldn’t help but adore her. Did I agree with her. . . hmm, her honesty is to be tested but all said and done, the best of us make mistakes, and I think hers was more than justified as her only wish was to maintain the status quo. Her open-mindedness and selfless protectiveness is refreshing. The love she has for her kinsfolk, undeniably strong. In fact, if anyone’s going to be able to calm troubled waters regardless of being between a rock and a hard place, it is she.
“You don’t have to be strong anymore.”
How Alex, Jav and Val’s story panned out surprised me. I have to confess that I wanted it to take a path which was not to be. However, after much contemplation, the place they found on a soul-stirring level was to my mind of thinking, indisputably correct when there was so much at stake. The secondary character development is fan-freakin’-tastic! I really connected to Valerie’s quirky sister, Trelawney and the two teenagers, Deane and Ari. . . lovely guys whose growing up struggles were really well-described. Here, Valerie and Alex and Jav’s empathy was crucial. Although house rules weren’t negotiable, their handling of certain issues were always carefully dealt with.
“These are the rules, kid. And they suck sometimes but they keep you safe and they keep the world in order.”
What sold me too was the tense dialogue in angst-ridden scenes that were actually, outnumbered by touching ones. Also, passages and sentences in italic caused a lump in my throat and had me grabbing for whatever happened to be at hand to dry my eyes. I have to mention to those of you who speak Spanish to try and ignore the few translation errors I came across. The verb conjugations of ‘ser / estar — ‘to be’, is one example. Nevertheless, these slip-ups shouldn’t hinder your reading enjoyment. It didn’t mine.
Well, what can I say to the author that I haven’t said already? Your words are splendiferous, your book, magnificent. One that shall never be forgotten, one to be savoured again and again and meriting at the very least, five stars. Bravo Ms Laqueur!
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Suanne Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010. Her debut novel, The Man I Love, won a gold medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and a gold medal for Best Debut Author from Feathered Quill Book Awards.
With her Fish Tales series, Laqueur has gone from choreographing dancers to choreographing words. Her goal is to create a new kind of emotionally-intelligent romance that appeals to the experience of all readers, crossing gender, age and genre.
Suanne lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children.
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