Elen Chase Continues to Explore What It Means To Love & To Be Loved – I’ve been a big fan of author Elen Chase for almost a year, and I’ve just finished the third book in her Italian Romance series, “When we were out of the ordinary.”
Find a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Y3631BN
The author has seamlessly blended the same characters across the three books in her series, while focusing on (for the most part) one couple per book. She also introduces new characters (sparingly) and connects them to the existing group of ‘people’ she celebrates.
Yes, I said people – because that is what Chase effortlessly creates on the page. Real. People. Yes, they’re characters, of course, and yet you get the sense that in some other universe, certainly on a literary plane, these fully rounded, carefully crafted, and 100% believable ‘people’ exist.
And THAT’s the magic flowing from Chase’s fingertips. Never is there a moment when you think a character’s thoughts or behaviors are too difficult to imagine. At the same time, she delivers complex emotions, situations, thoughts, and sometimes behaviors to keep us from becoming indifferent to these characters. In fact, we are further intrigued – and perhaps, just perhaps, we find something that resonates within ourselves, because we are also real and complex.
One of the reasons why I read Elen Chase’s books is because they are outside of the genre I typically choose, and I want to experience different ideas and perspectives. The Italian Romance series from Chase explores sexuality; love given and received; and finding your place to fit in while being yourself at the same time.
In “When we were out of the ordinary”, we learn more about Kim, a South Korean living in Italy and running a language school. In the same building on a floor above the school, Alessandro works in a lab. The author introduced Kim in an earlier book in her series, and Alessandro is a new character.
As the story begins, we find out that these two individuals have known each other for eight years… and let’s just say they haven’t been big fans of one another. However, they find themselves at a crossroads of sorts and begin to consider each other more frequently. This happens early on in the book, so right away you learn the backstory while the author propels this tale forward. Also, she switches the POV back and forth between Kim and Alessandro, but it is seamless throughout the book.
Confession: I was a tiny bit nervous about liking this book because Kim never really ‘caught my eye’ when appearing on-page in Chase’s earlier work in this series. I worried maybe I wouldn’t be as curious about him.
And then, the EXTRA-ordinary happened: Kim became my favorite character. Chase did it again! She made me care so deeply about one of her ‘people.’ I found myself wanting to better understand the pieces and parts of Kim’s make-up – and even when I didn’t fully comprehend a choice or a perspective, I always cared. And THAT is a takeaway: It is impossible to not care about Chase’s main characters.
Reading the Italian Romance series will allow you to discover that no matter what label one assigns to oneself, and no matter how someone identifies with regards to love, sex, attraction, non-attraction, and all the other complex topics and emotions we navigate in life, at our core, we are human. And WE ALL DESERVE to feel good and accepted inside our own skins. It’s not too much to ask, and it’s very easy to give.
If you love books about found families (versus biological) and the loving bonds that can be formed between a diverse group of people / characters, Chase’s books might just be what you’re looking for in a captivating storyline. I encourage you to start with book one in the Italian Romance series from Elen Chase, “When we were sea and stars.”
(Thank you to the author for my obligation-free review copy of this wonderfully unique novel!)