by Fern Michaels

January 1995
ISBN: 0-8217-5676-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Fern Michaels gives us another story of a woman enduring all hardships that life can throw at her, and still come out of the experience stronger and better than she ever thought she could be.

Emily Thorn gave it all up for her husband. She put off going to college, a career, and children, to put him through medical school. Her husband, Dr. Ian Thorn, promised her, from day one, that she would have everything her heart desires, soon. Well, soon never came. She finally confronts Ian about her dreams and ambitions; he still promises that he will give her everything she desires, soon.

When Emily was ready to turn 40, she told herself that she'd had enough. When she told Ian that things were going to change, he accuses her of being ungrateful and spoiled, and the next thing she knew, he left. Ian sold all of the clinics and left her with a huge mortgage, a beach house, and mounds of bills to pay. With no college education, she needed to find a way to make ends meet. She decided to rent the beach house and take on boarders to fill the five-bedroom house that Ian bought and furnished for her. With the help of her boarders, she comes up with a business venture that will eventually make them rich - if they have the courage to follow their dreams. She finds that and more, in the handsome personal trainer Ben Jackson. Emily hires Ben to help her get back into shape, the years of working 2 jobs and not eating right, have made Emily very overweight. Ben does help her, but he also teaches her to love and trust again. But will Emily have the courage to take that leap of faith again and have a man permanently in her life.

This is a story of a woman whose husband has a hold on her, both physically and mentally. When faced with a future without him, she doesn't know where to turn. Emily is every woman who conquers a difficult situation and comes back stronger than ever. Her character is very believable, as are her 5 tenants that live in her house. Every woman in the house has a story of heroism and tragedy. Dear Emily may hit the nerve of women who are or have been in similar situations. If you are one of them, this book will be a good one for you to read. Even though the characters are fictitious, the story itself may give you the strength to fight for your dreams.

As a contemporary, I liked this book very much. Ms. Michaels' characters are well thought out and the plot never strays or becomes stagnant. As Emily grows into her new freedom, Ms. Michaels' leaves nothing out, all the emotion and conflict that Emily goes through, you will feel - you can't help it because in the real world, Emily might be you or someone you know. The secondary characters, as well as Emily's love interest, Ben, add life and believability to the plot. Enjoy!

Reviewed in October 2001 by Debbie.

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