Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-875-5
Contemporary Romance, 2008
Strawberries in Winter is about relationships. The central players are Kyra Adams, a woman who feels increasingly trapped by her being a mother to a baby daughter without fully understanding why she feels that way, her husband Stephen, Kyra’s Alzheimer-stricken Ava, and a few other characters that will show up along the way. The story goes back and forth from flashbacks to the past to the present (2001) as it lets the reader follow the lives of these characters. I don’t think I should reveal anything more as it may spoil the story, so let me just say that this story mostly centers on Kyra’s journey to self-discovery and her relationships with Ava and a few more people which will help her define who she is as a person. Oh, and don’t worry, there’s a happy ending for Kyra. In fact, the last few chapters are too much like something out of a tearjerker movie on the Hallmark channel if you ask me.
On the whole, I find the “family secret” a little less dramatic than I expected it to be. This is quite a problem because for a long time Kyra is actually being hysterical to the point of a nervous breakdown that I can only tell myself that the big secret has better be something really explosive to explain this woman’s over-the-top teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown. However, I never get an adequate explanation to explain her behavior, so I suppose I can only deduce that Kyra is just a rather… excitable person by nature. I wish I can be patient or sympathetic like her husband Stephen, but I am clearly not a good person because I would have been quite free in spreading some bitchslaps and putting some elephant-dose tranquilizer jabs to good use were I Stephen.
Despite Kyra’s high-strung personality that gets on my nerves, Strawberries in Winter is actually a beautifully-written story with some most elegantly descriptive prose that makes it a pleasure to read. There is nothing here that will surprise a reader who has watched at least one sappy family tearjerker on TV or a women’s fiction book with similar theme, but it is nonetheless a well put-together story. If only the heroine has taken a few chill pills now and then.