Soul to Soul
After a hellish marriage that ended three years earlier, Leone Weathers has come into her own as the owner of Soul to Soul, a successful jazz nightclub. Her teenage daughter, Raven, has weathered the divorce and is doing well despite her absentee father. Cole Fleming, Leone’s bandleader and club manager, has filled those shoes admirably and the two are extremely close. Cole has been Leone’s friend and lover for quite some time and has never stopped wanting to be more to her than simply a stand-in.
When Soul to Soul’s house band needs a new saxophonist, Cole hires Ray Taylor, talented, gorgeous, and Leone’s junior by ten years. The sparks fly the moment they lay eyes on each other. The more he gets to know her, the more he is convinced that his days of playing the field are over and Leone is the woman for him. As for Leone, she is torn because though she wants Ray, she doesn’t want to hurt Cole. But the hurt is inevitable, because Cole is aware of the attraction between the two. To complicate things further, Raven is furious when she discovers her mother’s affair with Ray. Now Leone must decide whether to keep her safe, comfortable relationship with Cole or lose herself in Ray’s fiery passion.
Although Leone has far more confidence than she had when she filed for divorce (at that time her husband told her the only reason he’d married her was out of pity and that, without him, she’d fail miserably), choosing between the safety and comfort offered by Cole and the dangerous feelings Ray arouses is a difficult one. The age difference adds another layer of danger to her choice, but one this reviewer appreciated – one of my favorite romantic themes is the older woman/younger man relationship.
Author Hill tells a rather good tale of a woman torn between two men, although there were a few flashbacks that could easily have been omitted. She is particularly astute at creating convincing dialogue. I especially enjoyed this suggestive passage that occurs early in the story:
Leone felt her hand become enveloped by his. “Cole tends to exaggerate,” she said derisively, trying to ignore the warm pressure of his hand. “But in your case I hope he proves me wrong. He says you’re the player we’ve been looking for.”
“I believe I am,” Ray said without pretext. “It’s what I do.” His gaze of challenge burned into her eyes.
She raised her chin a notch. “And how long have you been doing it?”
The corner of his mouth curved in a wicked grin and his eyes suddenly picked up the light. “Since I was big enough to hold the instrument in my hands and make it do what I wanted–or what was asked.”
Spicy stuff! I would have preferred a deeper exploration of Ray and Leone’s relationship, but settled for an interesting twist that made the story more enjoyable for me, though others may not like it (my sister didn’t). I believe one will find that Soul to Soul goes down as smoothly as jazz playing softly in the background.