by Marie Mosley

November 2001
ISBN: 0-8217-6641-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

This is a wonderful love story. Please observe the use of the word "love" in the previous sentence - it's there deliberately, because this is so much more than a romance! Marie Mosley introduces us to the Chandler family, Mark, Claire and Amy, all relatively successful in their accomplishments. Mark heads up his own Graphics firm and Amy is his right-hand person in the area of creative design. Claire, a widow, has a job at a bank that allows her plenty of time to raise her two kids. Ellen Chandler is still "Mom" to all three, even while leading the active life of a senior citizen and missing the husband she lost some years before.

The relationships between the Chandler siblings have been chugging along through the process of everyday life; Mark has tended towards the 'father' role in his relationships with Claire and Amy, trying subconsciously to fill his deceased father's shoes. Even though he has his own family, he's always been there for the girls. Claire, the middle child, has drifted on with her life after her husband died, living each day for her kids, and believing that her life was as complete as it was going to get. Amy, who could well be described as the heroine of this tale (although that would do a disservice to the other fine characters) is still single, and not particularly concerned about it, relishing her creative freedom that allows her the time to paint as well as develop graphics for Mark's company. She enjoys both and feels that her life may well be close to perfect.

Needless to say, all this familial harmony comes to an abrupt end when their Mom is admitted to hospital with a minor stroke. It is at this point that the book erupts into a passionate and heart-rending look inside "ordinary" people and allows us to begin seeing what makes them "extra-ordinary". Trauma such as this is bound to affect those nearest and dearest, and Marie Mosley permits us the most intimate glimpse into these passions. Mark is faced with both soaring heights of intense emotion and dismal descents into his own personal hell. Claire learns more about her own needs and life than she thought possible, and Amy - well, Amy does have the good fortune to meet Dr. Seth Donovan in the ER, but even their budding relationship is affected by the family's upheaval; Amy has to do some very intense soul-searching of her own.

Amy and Seth are clearly the "romance" in this novel, but in no way are they the only focus of the tale. The physicality of their love is delicately implied - a feature of this entire book that is quite refreshing. Intimacy here is not so much sexual as emotional - while the sex is present, much is left to the reader's imagination - this is more than a romp between the sheets. To concentrate on Amy and Seth is to miss out on the complex issues facing Mark and Claire, which would seriously lessen the impact of this story. It's all about love, but love in its many guises and disguises! So I heartily recommend this book - as a delightful read on so many different levels. The issues that are explored are common to many of us in today's world - it's wonderful to see them treated honestly and resolved realistically; the ending avoids the easy cliché, yet leaves us satisfied that where there's life there's hope! Thanks Marie - I enjoyed my time spent with the Chandlers, and I hope other readers do too!

Reviewed in February 2002 by Celia.

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