by Alexis Harrington, historical (2000)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-97307-1
Allie's Moon is a slow, gentle, yet emotionally powerful romance about two persons overcoming their past to find happiness. There's nothing more heartwarming than watching people falling in love, and this story captures the magic of that moment perfectly. In a time when most romance novels seem nothing more than fluffy "Wham bang, meet, make love, solve murder, declare love, now gimme your $6.99!" quickie, tepid affairs, Allie's Moon stands out like the luminous moon in its pages.
Althea Ford is slowly going crazy taking care of her fragile (that's putting it kindly) sister Olivia while trying to survive. The roof is leaking, the garden is a mess, and the fence is broken down. But the Ford sisters are regarded as lunatics, and even the worst ne'er-do-well folks won't lift a finger to help Althea.
Hero Jeff Hicks has his own problems. He was the sheriff before his shooting of a young boy causes him to lose control of his life. Now he has lost his family, his job, and his dignity, and his best buddy is the beer bottle. An all-time low humiliation comes when he is caught stealing a chicken. The new sheriff decides to send Jeff to help Althea around the house.
I know, I have ranted about guilt-ridden martyrs, and Allie fits that description perfectly. But there's a difference this time around: Allie's guilt is convincing, in that she really has no idea that she is manipulated by both her late father and now her sister for their own means. It's all social conditioning. She is strong, however, and she never lets anyone step all over her even at her most selfless.
Jeff too has his own baggage, but he slowly helps Allie to heal even as she helps him. And their getting to their happy ending is a long but very poignant journey of slow self-discovery and reliance on each other to complete his or her strength. I find myself sniffling like a big baby by the last page, and damn if this book ended too soon!
Allie's Moon is a great drama about people in love. It drives home that despite all odds, the human spirit is indeed an indomitable and powerful force. Even when we are at the lowest points in our lives, if we stick to our guns and be strong and courageous, happy endings are always within our grasps. Not a bad message to take home at the end of the day, really.
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