The Street Where She Lives
The Street Where She Lives suffers from more than a goofy title (My Fair Lady fans notwithstanding). Characters who talk about everything but what’s most important and a middling suspense plot make this story just one more romantic suspense on the shelf.
Ben Asher, photojournalist extraordinaire, will do anything for his daughter, Emily. When Emily calls and begs him to come home and take care of her mother, Rachel, who was seriously injured in a car accident, Ben can’t resist. Rachel was the love of his young life, but she sent him away, despite being pregnant with his baby. Ben and Rachel wanted totally opposite things out of life but now of course, neither one is truly happy. Ben becomes very concerned about Rachel when he realizes that Asada, a man he helped convict of a crime, could be the one responsible for Rachel’s hit-and-run accident. All the while, Emily plots to get her parents back together.
Rachel always wanted one thing out of life: to stay settled in one place. Her family moved around constantly, and she never felt like she belonged anywhere. Her alcoholic mother and gruff father didn’t help. Settled and a successful cartoonist, Rachel has everything she ever wanted. Well, except for a smooth relationship with her troubled teenage daughter and love in her life. Ben’s presence confuses Rachel. Initially cold to Ben and totally against his presence in her house, she begins to thaw. She still feels the old attraction to him, but she knows that nomadic Ben will leave again as soon as she’s healed.
Ben’s a nice guy. He wants to do the right thing, which means being a good dad to his daughter and protecting Rachel and Emily from the threat he introduced into their lives – even though they don’t know it. Ben keeps the truth to himself about Asada being after him because he thinks mental stress will add to Rachel’s physical pain. I can’t say I agreed with that decision, and not only because it was such a typical romance novel hero reaction. Ben’s childhood gave root to his nomadic tendencies. A foster child who was never really wanted, Ben determines never to stay where he’s not wanted. When Rachel told him to leave after graduation, he took it at face value and went.
Ben and Rachel clearly hold a magnetic attraction for each other. In that respect, their relationship worked. They clearly loved each other. The major problem lay with the lack of communication between them. Rachel didn’t get why Ben always wanted to leave town because she never knew about his childhood. How could someone so in love with another person not know that? Added to Ben’s withholding the truth from Rachel, and it diluted the love story.
The suspense wasn’t too suspenseful either. The denouement is obvious from the beginning of the book; it could only have been more obvious had it been highlighted in neon. Asada seemed like a most incompetent villain, especially since he was in South America the whole story. Hired hands don’t quite carry the same menace. Not to mention Asada’s whole whininess about Ben being responsible for him going to jail.
There are only two major supporting characters, Emily and Rachel’s sister Melanie. Emily was completely cute with her father, but her attitude towards her mom and school didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Then again, she was 12, and that could explain it. Melanie was just a shallow bitch for most of the story, manipulating Rachel and Ben because she couldn’t stand for others to be happy when she wasn’t. Her convenient transformation at the end couldn’t redeem her.
When the story focused solely on Ben and Rachel’s emotions, it was enjoyable. With the rest of the subplots added in, the enjoyment factor went way down and The Street Where She Lives ended up as just a slightly below average read.