by Neesa Hart

April 1999
ISBN: 0-380-80156-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

If I had any doubt that my second experience with the work of Neesa Hart would be as stirring as the first, this book easily laid those doubts to rest. Halfway to Paradise wastes no time in taking a very firm grip of the reader's heart or in capturing the readerís interest.

The opening scene itself is a testament to Ms. Hartís skill as an author. The main characters, all four of them, are believably human, and well developed. Although, I will note here that the dynamic, dead duo are actually a touch more engaging than the living lovers are.

Maggie Connell has been widowed for almost a year when she meets hunky Scott Bishop who, coincidentally, also lost his spouse almost a year ago. Their mutual loss brings them together and their attraction for each other keeps them together as bonds grow and strengthen between them. Bonds that Ms. Hart expertly weaves from respect, compassion and love.

But of course, things arenít always easy and in this case we donít have a boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl plot. What we have is man meets woman, is attracted to woman and falls hard for woman and her seven year old son while her ghostly late husband and his spirit of a late wife hover and try to help the two living would be lovers get together. Confused? Read the book. It will not only make things clear but it will do so in such a way as to have you rooting for all four lead characters, and Ryan, the seven year old- who, coincidentally, can see the ghosts, even though his mom and Scott cannot.

Maggieís late husband, Mark and Scottís late wife, Annie are fantastic characters. Their presence lends a humor to this tale that would otherwise be missing, even as the reader journeys with them as they begin the painful process of letting go of their living partners.

Halfway to Paradise is all about loving, letting go and finding happiness. All the main characters learn to let go and move on with their lives (or afterlife, in some cases). The ending is played out surprisingly well, and Neesa Hart has given us a wonderful gift by sharing this story with us.

Before I leave you to your thoughts, I have to note that Halfway to Paradise, as good as it is, isnít as good as A Kiss to Dream On. There was a time or two when what was happening outside the interconnecting personal relationships just got in the way. The reader gets so involved in the relationship aspect of things that itís sometimes hard to focus on the rest of the plot. Either that or the outside plot just wasnít strong enough to share the light with the romances going on. There was also a time or two when Maggie seemed to be pulling less than her weight. She wasnít quite as decisive as she could have been. Annie and Mark are such great characters that there where times when they outshone Maggie and Scott. But this is a minor flaw in an otherwise very nicely written story.

Reviewed in March 2002 by JaToya.

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