Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.
When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?
The running of the bulls in Pamplona has always fascinated me. Combine that with the fact that the author lives there so I figured the story would be authentic in the customs and location and I was excited to read this story, The Sun Still Rises by Laura Bailo.
For the most part, the author delivered a delightful, layered story of recovery, connection, and closure that was also a romance. That’s a lot for a book that includes a sightseeing trip to Pamplona, Spain for its well-known running of the bulls. Did I mention it’s 86 pages long?
It starts off with a conversation between Erik and his father, someone who loves the City of Pamplona and goes yearly for the running of the bulls. Erik has never gone with him for a number of reasons that will be revealed. It’s a typical father son talk but layered over with the painful foreknowledge for the reader. We know what’s coming.
The transition forward is handled quickly in steps and I thought it was well done. We grieve with Erik for the loss of his father, someone he was so clearly close to while learning more about Erik himself and their relationship.
The biggest jump lands us in Spain and Erik totally out of his depth in every way. I loved every part of this section. Erik’s meeting with David, the reader’s immersion into the city of Pamplona, the rituals of the bull running (everything from the route to the prayer), and the slide into a relationship for these two men. Even the treatment of Erik’s anxiety attacks is handled accurately, folding it naturally within the romance itself, an element I really liked.
Another aspect of this story that I loved (and wished had been enlarged somewhat) was the character of Eli, a good friend of David’s and a fan of Erik’s. Much is made of this character, they are a big part here as well as being brought in at a timely place at the end of the story so I wanted more of them. Perhaps the author is planning another story about them. I hope so.
So if I loved this story so much why not a higher rating?
That ending. This story was all about Erik needing to find some connection to his father again and some closure with his death, learning to move forward or learning that he’d been mired more than he thought in his grief and could get past it. Connections and closure. But the author in a way denies the readers a final, delightful closure, leaving us that final, one step away from the finish line. I was astonished. I’ve seen other authors use this method and I’ve never been a fan.
I’m especially not a fan here. If you read it, tell me your feelings about the ending, I’m curious to know. As I said I really loved everything else about the book. At 86 pages, Laura Bailo showcased her city, wrote a sweet and gentle romance and introduced several intriguing secondary characters. If I could only get past that ending.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht. Terrific cover, love the model, and the bottom with the streets of Pamplona and the bulls is outstanding.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.