When innocuous pleasures come with bite.In any kind of women's fiction, there will be times when a writer deals with a subject that is challenging. For different people different things will press the wrong buttons. I found this some weeks ago when I forced myself to read a romance that dealt with infidelity. As I half expected, I struggled with it. It was a well written book and I vaguely thought that if it were well written, (it's been nominated for awards), I wouldn't find it so difficult. I did find it extremely difficult to finish. I kept reading, hoping that somehow I would feel better about it by the end. Technically I should have. The subject was dealt with sensitively and realistically. It still made me nauseous.
This week I've read two books on topics that press emotional hot buttons for me. The first is The Tycoon Millionaire's Secret Daughter by Susan Meier. It deals with alcoholism, a subject I had considerable experience of as a child. What are the chances of picking up a romance novel, a reunion story of course, because I love reunions, and finding the hero not only has the same addiction as my father, but shares the same surname. That was bound to press a few buttons.
Max Montgomery reacted badly ten years ago when a family secret exploded in his face and he turned to alcohol to help him through. His marriage to Kate suffered as for three years he became more and more violent and out of control. While he never actually hit Kate, her fears multiplied when she realised she was carrying a child. Afraid of the power wielded by the Montgomery clan she fled.
Four Stars ****
For Kate, it is all about trust and guilt. She doesn't feel she can trust the man who let her down so badly but she feels a sense of guilt about keeping her daughter away from the little girls father. She wants to be fair, but it becomes even harder when she realises her feelings for Max may just still be lurking.
I admit I found the first chapters worrying as Max struggled with his anger at his wife's betrayal. Then the lessons he learned over the years with AA started to kick in. Lessons about responsibility and about asking forgiveness.
The challenges this couple face are heart wrenching at times when you realise how much everyone has missed out on over the years because of Max's weakness. They have both changed and grown stronger because of the circumstances they've had to deal with. By the end I had a very positive feeling about the future of this little family. Susan Meier has done a wonderful job bringing these very real but wounded characters to life.
Four Stars ****
Megan of course has loved Clay since before she really understood what love is. But now that she is a cancer risk, along with the difficulties the chemo might mean for having a family, she's put those dreams aside. Instead she's going to build a different dream, a riding school that will give her a future and help her struggling family ranch.
Funny thing is that Clay is the only one who takes her dream seriously. Seriously enough to bankroll it when other finance isn't forthcoming. Now Megan has to deal with Clay as a sleeping partner in her business, tied to him through their financial agreement.
It takes quite a bit to convince both these stubborn people where their destiny lies. Donna Alward writes a sensitive and sweet romance that deals with the issues without overwhelming us with the tragedy of the subject matter. I really enjoyed it and will look out for the other stories set in Larch Valley.