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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Love Will Find a Way

**** Love Will Find a Way by Barbara Freethy. Contemporary romance.

I've been slowly collecting Barbara Freethy's backlist since falling in love with her romantic suspense books (#17).

Six months after the death of Rachel Tanner's husband Gary, the insurance company informs her they suspect suicide and therefore won't pay. The half-million dollar policy had been taken out just six months before his death, and he'd driven his car off a steep mountain road.

So Rachel turns to Gary's best friend and business partner, Dylan Prescott. Together they begin digging into Gary's life, and Rachel discovers she didn't know her husband as well as she'd thought he did.

Dylan, for his part, has been enamored of Rachel since the day he and Gary both met her. But she'd always been focused on Gary, so he's kept his distance. Gary might be dead now, but he's still between them. Yet, the more he learns about Gary's home life, the more he realizes that Gary wasn't the husband and father he'd thought he was.

Love Will Find a Way is full of Freethy's intense, real emotions. I kept expecting to discover that Gary's secret was really horrible, but it wasn't, which makes the story all the more affecting. There's also a secondary romance for Rachel's younger sister Carly which echoes in some ways Rachel's romantic experiences, so it adds to and illuminates the main story.

But the reason Rachel was so sure Gary was The One for her was that she'd given him an apple from the magic apple tree in their back yard. Legend has it that if a member of the family gives an apple from the tree to someone and they eat it, true love will result. You can probably guess the punch line now--I certainly did.

And while the magic apples give the story a nice fairy-tale feel, and Carly's antics with trying to get an apple to the man she wants added some fun comic relief, they reduce the effectiveness of a wonderfully emotional story for me. All those emotions get reduced to something imposed from the outside, rather than something they chose themselves, and it all feels false. I need both the brain and the heart involved to find a romance satisfying. It's why I don't believe in love at first sight--I staunchly believe it's lust at first sight (emotional reaction), and it may develop into love once they get to know each other (involving their brains as well).

One really cool thing, though--this helped me figure out why I'm not as fond of love-at-first-sight or soul mate stories if they don't also include the development of what I think of as "real" love.


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