One Perfect Spring
It’s interesting to watch authors jump from one genre to the other or from one series to another. I often find that while I love their voice in say, romantic suspense, I can’t stand them in historicals or contemporaries. Or vice versa. This is Ms. Hannon’s second novel that is contemporary rather than romantic suspense. Although this is a cute tale, I prefer her voice in the other genre.
Keith Watson has felt the need to prove his value his whole life. The result of that is that he is a driven, successful individual whom many call a workaholic. He’s all right with that title. He’s earned it. Part of his current job is to field requests for the charity fund his philanthropic boss, David McMillan, has set up. One evening, as he sorts through the mail and places donation requests firmly in stacks he has labeled “to be considered” and “discard” he comes across a letter from an eleven-year-old girl. She isn’t seeking money but help for her beloved neighbor who had given a child up for adoption and now wants to find him. Since it isn’t the kind of work the charitable foundation does Keith places the sweet little note firmly in the discard pile. But God has other plans.
Through some shuffling, falling and a near miss with the trash the note makes it on to David McMillan’s desk. David is justifiably pleased with the company he built from the ground up and is delighted to be able to give back to the community via his charitable foundation. In the letter from young Haley Summers he sees not just the opportunity to help a worthy stranger but to help Keith as well. Determined to show Keith that humans matter as much as the bottom line he assigns his young employee to personally handle the request. Keith is none too thrilled with the idea but in typical fashion immediately determines to excel at the task. However, his first foray into the assignment looks like it might be a reprieve. When Claire Summers, the girl’s mother, answers the phone and learns what he is calling about she is cool and concise. The information contained in the letter was private and confidential. It hadn’t been meant for the ears of her daughter, much less some strangers at a construction company. The neighbor would likely be very upset to learn what was happening. Best just to drop the whole thing.
However, Claire’s daughter had included the neighbor’s name in the note. David is determined to at least speak to this Dr. Chandler before just giving up the project. And is he ever glad he does! Maureen Chandler is a beautiful, intelligent woman. She is someone he definitely wants to know better. He convinces her to let Keith handle her search for her child partly so that he himself can use it as an excuse to get to know the lovely lady better..
Keith isn’t thrilled to find the project back on but as he begins to speak to Maureen and interact with her beautiful neighbor Claire, he starts to warm to the venture. Will these two beautiful women help him reconcile with the demons of his past? And can a troubled soul like himself possibly have anything of value to offer the equally broken Claire?
This story is all about second chances. All four of the characters have baggage from the past that keeps them from embracing the good things in their present and entertaining the possibility of a better future. Each of them must forgive themselves for their previous errors as well as accept that their potential significant others are human too. I liked how the author played with this theme throughout the book, showing us through her characters how redemption and change ultimately lie in our decision to embrace them. Because this is an Inspirational emphasis is placed on God and prayer playing a large role in that transformation for some, although one character at least begins to make changes in her own life prior to inviting God to join her in the process. I felt this was all very well handled.
I also appreciated how the author incorporated the idea that Christians of different denominations can work together. A Catholic priest plays a minor but significant role in the tale and the talk of God and faith were vague enough that the characters could have belonged to any number of branches of the Christian faith. In that sense the book felt very inclusive, which was refreshing.
The characters are all very mature and adult, which was something I enjoyed as well. A personal pet peeve is infantile behavior in characters about to fall in love. I can never understand how the relationship is supposed to survive the immaturity. These folks were very ready to form grownup relationships.
But while the tale clearly had stellar qualities, it had an equal number of flaws that pulled the grade down. I felt that everyone was a bit too rational and grownup at times. Everything was discussed so calmly and reasonably that the tone for the novel was almost a monotone. It wasn’t lack of physical passion – attraction was alluded to many times – but more emotional highs and lows that seemed to be missing. These people were so determined to play it safe they seemed to be wading in soothing feelings and conveyed the impression they were desperate to avoid any fun but potentially dangerous plunges into more chaotic emotions. Even their romances had to be carefully approached to avoid any possibility of making the wrong choice.
I could have lived with the slow, sweet pace and rational behavior but the kicker for me was the treatment of the two single moms. It was made clear that they had done a very, very bad thing. Even though they had not had abortions, had generously given the children into loving homes there seemed to be a strong stigma attached to what they had done. I’m sure it was unintentional but the idea that adoption was a poor second choice compared to God’s plan for every child to stay with their married birth parents seemed to be silently but emphatically emphasized. I couldn’t help but think of all the adoptive families and adopted children who might be made to feel very inferior because they weren’t what God had intended. I’m not saying that we should celebrate teen pregnancy but we can certainly celebrate adoption even if the circumstances that led to it aren’t ideal.
I’ve loved Ms. Hannon’s romantic suspense in the past and was intrigued by the teaser at the end of this novel for what looks like a new book in that genre. I will definitely check it out. But unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this contemporary enough to give it any kind of recommendation.