Released on December 20, 2013
When I read that this was a story set in New Orleans and the bayou, I was eager to read it since I’m always intrigued by reading about different regions of the United States. I was not disappointed either because the author did a fantastic job of creating a place, characters and dialogue that made me feel like I was there. There was even a bit of suspense thrown into this romance to make things even more interesting.
The story is about a woman, Nora Kehoe, who has lost herself since her father’s death when she was a young teen. Her mother left her roots behind to marry Nora’s father with a goal of making something of herself in the high social circles of New Orleans and carefully plots out her life as well as Nora’s. Nora thinks she rebelled against her mother’s plans for her when she chose a career path that she loved and there is still a small part of her that misses her dad and her days back on lake with her uncle on his shrimp boat, but now that she reaches the age of thirty her mother starts really pushing her to marry and raise a family. Her mother has a certain type husband in mind and Nora agrees that she is lonely and getting to an age when she should be in a relationship so goes along with it all. Nora goes on disastrous date after another with her mother’s list of candidates, but then stumbles onto a fine man all by herself. Dr. John Blessing is the epitome of a good match and even makes her mother happy. John has a time table for each little step in their relationship and he has a habit of speaking for her and knowing what is best for her that is disconcerting to Nora, but she goes along with it. Her weekly visits to her Uncle Jack start to get her thinking when Jack challenges her about John not being ‘right’. Uncle Jack wants to know does he make her happy and where is the passion? Nora is also disconcerted by the continued presence of the man, Jean-Marc Gaspard, who had once been her childhood best friend- the older boy she idolized and thought the world of, but then hated when he grew up. She spits and snarls at him, but he insists that the hate is all on her side that he is still her friend- and that’s what scares her. Nora continues down the path of letting John and her mother dictate her wedding and future marriage with increasing pressure that she conform and change to their ideal of her while suppressing her doubts. It’s not until Jean Marc’s no good brother, Henri enters her life bringing Jean Marc and the others from her past when she was happy different Nora that Nora finally starts to come back to life. Unfortunately, Henri’s return brings many complications including danger and old secrets dredged up that may end any new found happiness for Nora.
When I first started reading this story and saw where things were going, I groaned because I saw Nora just go completely spineless and let her mother and fiance’, John, walk all over her. Then I grew more irritated because her spine only showed up when the people who cared for her were true friends and challenged her to go for happiness and stay true to herself. Of course, she fought back then. Grr! I wanted to reach into the book and shake her until her teeth rattled. Then, when I saw her with the man, Jean Marc, who had been everything to her in the past and how perfect they were together, I decided to settle in to wait and see what happened. Thank goodness I did because that’s when it started getting interesting.
The plot on this one is a slow building one. Much of the time is spent inside Nora’s head as she must find her way back to the real Nora. I went through quite a range of emotions when it came to Nora, but in the end, I practically did a fist pump when she finally fought back. Nora is the sole narrator, but as the reader I had no trouble understanding what the other characters were thinking. The author is really good because the reader is given a better understanding of matters than poor Nora who has a skewed perspective on things. I loved the wonderful character descriptions that come out through Nora’s thoughts and through the well-crafted dialogue. Uncle Jack and Steve, Nora’s secretary were personal favorites. And while I wasn’t fond of John and Nora’s mother, Claire, they were well-rounded characters. Jean Marc is kept as a shadowy figure until near the end though there are glimpses given throughout the story of the man who would emerge from the shadows and take center stage in Nora’s life. Normally, epilogues are a toss up with me when it comes to whether I’ll still feel like I’m in the story or not. This was one of the better written ones that didn’t stint on the emotional scenes while giving the wrap-up to the loose ends.
This was a new to me author and I loved this story so I’ll be checking out her other stuff. I can recommend this to those who enjoy spicy contemporary romance or light romantic suspense.