The Master's Plan
There’s nothing as irresistible as a larger-than-life hero: a demon Earl, a maurading Viking, a devil-may-care race car driver. But sometimes I’m in the mood for someone a little more – real. You know, someone who could actually interact with me. In The Master’s Plan, LaVerne St. George delivers a story with just such a character.
Cara Masters is a librarian who, in her spare time, devotes her energies to a non-profit organization designed to help closed-head injury victims. She started the charity as a way of working through the pain she suffered herself. Cara and her sister were in an car accident several years ago, and her sister suffered massive head trauma and died later as a result. Cara still has panic attacks related to driving and being in cars.
Jason Montague is the chairman of the Doncaster Foundation which administers grants to smaller charities. He is successful, charming, and attractive, but he has epilepsy and has to take regular medicine to control it. He feels vulnerable about it, particularly because none of his past girlfriends could deal with any aspect of his condition.
The two of them meet in the Ozarks on a weekend retreat for Doncaster Foundation applicants. Cara decides to go for a hike in the mountains and meets Jason who is also hiking, but who is unprepared for the weather, which suddenly turns cold and rainy. Cara comes to his rescue and they spend the night in a trailside shelter bonding and feeling attracted to one another. For her part, Cara is feeling a little more than just attracted to Jason, and then she finds out that he is head of the Doncaster Foundation, the very man to whom she will shortly be presenting her grant proposal.
Eventually Cara learns a few more facts about Jason – he is religious, he has epilepsy, and his home base is in Washington D.C. Those bits of information make her conclude that this is just another doomed attraction. But events intercede. Due to unforeseen financial difficulties, Jason is forced to renege on the grant he promised. But he feels so badly about it that he offers to help Cara raise money in other ways, and during this time, they get to know each other better. They fall in love.
Still there are several ordinary obstacles to their relationship. Cara’s panic attacks and Jason’s epilepsy don’t mix well. She worries about him. She is afraid to let him drive because he might have an attack and be killed. He interprets this fear as revulsion toward his condition and general distrust on her part. Another problem for Cara is that she isn’t sure she wants to be involved with someone as religious as Jason. She is still dealing with the loss of her sister and angry with God because of it. As for Jason, he doesn’t know if he can commit to someone who does not share his faith. These are all things that keep them wondering – Is this relationship really possible?
The thing that impressed me most about this book is the very ordinariness of the couple’s problems: geography, faith, personal weakness. Jason is a good man and a great catch, but he’s not sure anyone will accept him because of his problems with his ongoing epilepsy. Cara still feels the loss of her sister, and it interferes with her life. They don’t know if they can make the faith issue work, and deal with each other’s mental and physical health problems. These are the kind of problems that I’ve had, that my friends have had. I can relate to them.
I have two quibbles. The first is that I thought the author devoted a little too much time depicting how attracted the characters are to one another. The second is that the book was a little predictable. You know that Cara is going to have to come to terms with her own fears and Jason’s epilepsy and her relationship to God. It’s not a bad thing that she does so, but you know it’s coming.
Still, I think that this is a sweet story that would appeal to most readers. If you are looking for a thoughtful book on life and love and faith, I recommend that you pick up a copy of The Master’s Plan.