Shirley Hailstock, $0.99, ISBN 978-1-939214-13-3
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Craggs Station is not a place Nancy Emerson would willingly choose to come back to. She feels that she was responsible for the death of Mark Jansen, her boyfriend, when one night five years ago, she drove Mark’s truck down the wrong road and the vehicle hit another truck driven by a drunk. She entered a coma for two weeks, and when she came to, she had no recollection of much of anything other than being pinned to the door by Mark’s body and fearing that she would die that night. Still, she is back here now, hoping for closure.
There is a new face in town, Alexander Hayes, and he has moved into the Jansen home. The people in town told him about Nancy, of course, and he discovers an old recipe book in his place with the note from Nancy that says:
I love oatmeal-raisin cookies, I love wildflowers and I love Mark – in that order.
Of course, he has to say hello to Nancy when they meet.
Now, I’d like to say that sparks fly and such, but Wrong Turn is more of an exorcism of one’s inner demons than a romantic story. Nancy has some serious issues – guilt, lots of it – and Alex has his own issues too, and given that this is a short story, these characters spend far more time examining their issues and talking about them, instead of doing some serious sparking. Is this somehow wrong? No, if you ask me, as these two really need to work out their issues before they can have a go at a healthy, loving relationship. However, the story never continues past the beginning of these characters’ slow healing, so the romance isn’t really there.
The hurt is raw and I feel for Nancy here, although I personally won’t move back to Craggs Station if I were her. I’d just look at that place through Google Maps instead. Its short length also means that Alex’s secret comes out pretty abruptly and I have little time to dwell on it before the story comes to an end.
Hence, the length of this story – or the lack of it – is its biggest handicap. Wrong Turn is never as believable or hard-hitting as it could have been if the author had made this one a little longer.
It’s an okay read, especially for its price, but think of it more as an appetizer than a main course.