I’ve heard some pretty marvelous things about Sharon Sala, but hadn’t had the opportunity to read this author until I was assigned her latest book, Reunion. Well, based on what I just read, I’m not sure I can jump onto the bandwagon yet, even though there were times I sure wanted to.
Based on reviews of some of her other books, it seems as though this author often takes a fairly common plot then twists it (or perhaps caresses it is a better term) to make it her own, with very satisfying results for the reader.
Well, for the first hundred pages of Reunion, I was sure this book was going nowhere fast, and couldn’t really see how such standard fare could be freshened. Then, just when I thought I had it all figured out (and on the surface, I did), the author shifted the plot to pull in my emotions and lead me down a different path – an unexpected one, a much sweeter one than the cover blurb had set me up for (this is not a murder mystery as advertised, but a story of loss, lonliness, and healing).
Tall, handsome, built-like-there’s-no-tomorrow Gabriel Donner has just returned home after having survived the car crash that took the lives of his parents. Alone in his hospital room, he thinks he hears someone calling to him, but when he realizes it’s all in his head, he begins to suspect he’s going insane. When his uncle collects him and takes him home, Gabriel feels completely alone in the world and he falls into grief and depression. Having missed his parents’ funeral, he buys dozens of roses (Gabriel is very well-to-do), his mother’s favorite flower, and carefully removes all the thorns from the stems before placing them on her grave. It was a particular habit his mother had, and out of respect for her memory, Gabriel feels compelled to do this.
Concurrent with Gabriel’s return home, a prostitute is murdered – her neck broken with one swift blow. A single, thornless rose is found beside her body, causing the press to dub the killer Prince Charming. When other, similar murders occur, Gabriel wants to go to the police and confess all. Why? Because Gabriel “saw” each murder as it was happening – it was as though he’d committed them himself. He tells his uncle his plans, but instead of calling the police, Gabriel’s uncle calls in a psychic, Laura Dane.
Beautiful Laura has worked with the police to solve murders in the past. Laura doesn’t want to take this case, but she cannot really refuse someone in need. When she first meets Gabriel, she shakes hands with him and has an erotic flash of the two of them stretched out, naked, Gabriel’s kisses covering her body, his final thrusts forceful as he calls out her name in passion. So now Laura knows they’re going to be lovers sometime in the future. While I might have turned and walked directly into a wall, breaking my nose, stubbing my toe, drooling, muttering, and giggling, Laura just takes it in stride. Ho-hum. Say, this psychic business really has its perks.
To tell you any more of the plot would enter into the realm of spoiler, and even though it’s not a big mystery (I had it figured out in the first 75 pages), it’s what happens after that point that redeems Reunion. Somewhat.
In this particular book, author Sala’s writing style seemed quite stilted. At times, the scenes were so, well, bland, I had to check the cover to make sure this was the author about whom I’d heard so much. Then, a couple of pages later, there would be something lovely. I just never got a handle on this book. If you’re a Sharon Sala/Dinah McCall fan, you will undoubtedly like Reunion much more than I did. By the time I got to the good stuff in the last fourth of the book, I was somewhat past caring. There is a sweetness to the characters though, that kept me reading, and a final scene so wrung with tenderness that it did bring tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, it was not enough to make this a great read for me, not even a really, really good one.
If you read Reunion, I hope you get more out of it than I did. I do have two Dinah McCall books on my TBR stack – perhaps I should give those a try?