I'm not always in the mood for romances, but when I am, I'm very picky. I want them to make sense, I want the characters to be likeable and believable, I want a story I can sink my teeth into, and above all, I want (of course) a happy ending.
When I first picked up "A Soft Place to Fall," it did not hold my interest. Try as I might, I could not get past the first chapter. But something kept me from putting it away permanently, and a few days ago, I was drawn to it again. This time, I was hooked. I'm not sure what put me off the first time, but this time around, I loved the story, the characters, the writing--everything.
Basically, the plot revolves around two lost souls. Annie Galloway, everybody's vision of a perfect bride, and a perfect wife in a perfect marriage, has lost her perfect husband when she is only in her 30s. Only she knows the truth behind the facade of her seemingly fairy-tale life, and she cannot reveal it to anybody. Her grieving mother-in-law, Claudia, looks to her as a remnant of her lost son. Her friends and family continue the myth. So Annie finds herself a cottage in her home town of Shelter Rock Cove, Maine, and tries to pick up the pieces of her ruined life. All of her dreams, of happiness, of motherhood, of everything--seem gone forever. She is a shell, but a strong shell, if that makes any sense.
Close by lives newly arrived Sam Butler, back home after a high-flying career in New York. Only he knows the terrible secret that haunts him and threatens his peace and security. He is in no better shape emotionally than Annie.
Sam and Annie meet, and, in the way of most romance novels, sparks fly. But this book is written with intelligence and dignity. They do not eye one another and then jump into bed. A great deal of hurt is contained in each of these people, and as in real life, each is afraid to reveal that hurt or to risk another one. When they finally do fall in love, they do not live happily ever after. Reality intrudes. Big-time.
How they solve their very real and very overwhelming problems while trying to save their budding relationship is the core of this wonderful story. I loved every word of it. And yes (sigh), it does have a happy ending.