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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

**** A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade. American historical romance.

A Reason to Live is the story of two lost souls finding each other and... a reason to live. It's aptly named.

Laurel Covey is a Civil War widow and nurse. Now that the war is over, she's traveling around the country on a mission to deliver the last words from soldiers who died in her care.

Creede Forrester is a widower whose only son had reportedly been injured in the war, and he's tracked down Laurel to find out what happened to him.

They meet unexpectedly when he rescues her from outlaws, and despite her objections, Creede's conscience won't allow him to let her continue her journey alone. But Laurel has a secret--she's trying to deliver all the messages before her sanity finally deserts her. Contemporary readers will recognize she's suffering from PTSD.

Up until this point, A Reason to Live was an intensely emotional, 5-star read, but it lost steam as the pair traveled from town to town delivering the messages and having brief adventures--rescuing a kitten, finding a family for a young ex-slave, treating a bullet wound, etc. It's a very realistic-feeling if optimistic portrait of America immediately after the Civil War, and it touches on some interesting issues, but I lost the thread of the story in the side trips.

Still, there's a twist or two near the end, and the way their growing relationship gave meaning to lives they felt were over brought tears to my eyes a few times, and I'm glad I read it.


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