Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81555-9
Romantic Suspense, 2002
The best thing I can say about Barbara Freethy’s Love Will Find a Way is that the author doesn’t take the easy way out of her story. This is one of those “now that her husband’s dead, she finds weird things about him” stories complete with “the man who has feelings for her for so long, and that she’s available, oi vey!” thing, and it can be painful, ie the dead guy can turn out to be some cheating philanderer that has fleeced Uncle Zucchini of the Mafia or something, but instead, the author creates something different. Dead meat Gary Tanner is just a decent if imperfect husband.
Rachel Tanner seeks out her late husband’s friend Dylan Prescott for help. The insurance company is saying that Gary committed suicide and they won’t pay. Can Dylan do something? And can Dylan show her the apartment Gary used while he was having business in town? She finds a perfume bottle that is not hers. Whoops. And later, a teddy. Ouch. Then a locket. Aaaah!
You know, I could’ve told Rachel there’s a perfectly decent explanation for all this. Rachel, your husband is a crossdresser. No harm in that, surely.
Okay, genteel readers, don’t worry. Gary isn’t a perfume-laden, locket-hugging teddy-wearing crossdressing. I’m just kidding. Really!
Rachel and Dylan soon try to figure out what Gary was doing in his last days. None of them even consider that Gary might love wearing teddies. Sherlock Dunce, that’s those two, I tell you.
I have no problem with Dylan, a rather stock romance novel rich, nice guy character. But, oh, Rachel! What a whiny, irritating mess. If she’s whiny only to develop towards the end of the story, that’s one thing. But it’s All About Rachel. Even when the rather poignant secret of Gary is revealed, Rachel is all hysterical because it’s all about her. Her life sucks, and boy, she will make sure that the whole world knows it. She’s also an apple farmer kinda gal, and I wish someone has shoved an apple into her mouth so that she’ll just shut up and let blissful silence reign.
There’s a subplot about Rachel’s less whiny sister, Carly. Carly is a more interesting character, but towards the end, her story is bogged down because remember, it’s all about Rachel. “How could she do this to me?” Rachel would shriek. Me, me, me, me, me. Can I ask Rachel to go to hell? Go to hell, Rachel, and stuff an apple down your gob.
What’s that about apples, you ask? Well, there’s a magic apple tree in this story that is… oh forget it. I don’t want to sound like an addle-pated fool in my own website. Just know that there’s a magic apple tree, okay?
So on one hand, I love how the author tries to and succeeds in creating a refreshing spin on a tired romance novel premise. But on the other hand, whenever Rachel opens her mouth to shriek that it’s all about her, I smell rotten apples in the air. So what can I say? Love Will Find a Way is a good story with its own merits, but if only someone has given the heroine a pacifier earlier.