Desert Isle Keeper
Fall from Grace
I’ve enjoyed Kristi Gold’s romances before, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any one that was truly special. In Fall from Grace, one of the debut romances in Harlequin’s new Everlasting line (which explore romantic relationships over a period of time), she truly impresses with a heartfelt story about the rise, fall, and rebuilding of a love.
Not quite fifty, Jack Morgan is a successful heart surgeon who is consumed by his work and always has been. His ex-wife, Anne Cooper Morgan, is a hard-working nurse who dreams of a new start, going back to school to get her master’s degree, while at the same time being a good mother to their young daughter Katie.
All plans for the future are halted when Jack suffers a stroke. Having already lost his wife and his daughter, and now his career and health, Jack is all alone. Anne, unwilling at first, steps in to help him survive, but it is a long road to recovery for Jack physically and for both of them emotionally. The wounds of their divorce have not fully healed for either one and there is much history, passion, and bitterness dividing the two over the course of their twenty-year marriage.
Gold beautifully blends together the feelings of despair at the present, bitterness at the past, and the slightest bit of hope for the future. This reunion romance is one during which we spend much time flashing back to the time when Jack and Anne first fell in love, as well as time watching Jack and Anne gradually find their way back to each other again.
Early on, the book lays out exactly why their marriage failed, and then proceeds to go in-depth on how it began to decline. It’s a relatively simple story describing the numerous challenges a relationship can face, and Jack and Anne seem to face one at every stage of their life together. There are no big misunderstandings or dramatic twists, and, thankfully, the author’s restraint keeps it from becoming a soap opera. Every moment spent revisiting and reexamining the past is filled with sincere emotion and therefore very worthwhile.
Anne and Jack are both stubborn but vulnerable characters, and it’s clear early on that their biggest problem is that their priorities in life conflicted with their attraction to each other. I felt for both of them as they fought to resist their attraction and then suffered as each had to make sacrifices for the other. Their story is compelling, while always seeming real. These characters are not perfect and they do things that don’t happen in fairy tales and there is even an element of infidelity, which the author handles very well. They face many, many hurdles, but that means they truly earn their happy ending.
One slight nitpick: there’s a bit too much repetitive telling and not enough showing when it comes to the root of the conflict between them. From the very beginning, Anne resents the time Jack spends on his work because she went through the same thing with her father (also a doctor), while Jack cannot be anything less than 100% committed to his work. Over and over, we are told that this is the main problem separating the two and the way it is resolved is just a bit unsatisfying. It wasn’t that I disagreed with what happened; I just wondered, “How come this didn’t happen earlier? Why couldn’t you just do that before?”
Still, I enjoyed the journey with these characters, and found it rewarding. I’ve read many HEA endings, but few emphasize that the couple won’t ever again take each other for granted. I appreciated how the author left me not only with the feeling that Jack and Anne are happy together once again, but that they now understand the value of every moment spent with each other.