My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Claire Wilder reads the mysterious yet hopeful message about searching for ‘real life’ on the wall of the truck stop women’s room, she is inspired to kick off the trappings of her divorce-afterlife and hit the road herself. She quits her job, cuts her hair, packs her car and heads to … Valentine, Oklahoma. It was supposed to be just for one night: time enough to get an impression of the place she was born but never really lived. She just wanted to see where her father’s people – a father she’d never known - had lived and, eventually, passed away. And in her heart of hearts, she wanted a clue to why her father had never tried to contact her.
Claire has a lot to wonder about. On her way out of town, she’d run into her ex-husband, Andrew, who had had second thoughts about his impending marriage to his much-younger fiancée, and now wanted to try for a reconciliation with Claire (something Claire had been wishing for since the divorce two years earlier.) But having made her mind up about this solo trip, Claire surprises even herself by putting Andrew off and wanting to think about it.Settled in at Valentine’s only lodgings, the Goodnight Motel, Claire begins her search for answers, starting with some of the locals who might have actually known her father or his family. With the help of the charming and gentlemanly, Winston Valentine, she successfully locates her grandparents’ final resting spot. However, the next morning she awakes to find her car and all her belongings have been stolen, and the thief has left behind his frightened and very vulnerable, pregnant girlfriend, Sherrilyn. As Claire tries to help the girl, she becomes more and more a part of the small rural community and her search for her father and his people becomes more and more a search for her real self and a real life.
This sixth book in the author’s Valentine series is a solid, satisfying story of not just one woman’s search for herself but two. Claire has been drifting through life reacting and not actively living, passively adapting around and to the actions of others, relying on others to make her a life, waiting for her father to return to her and her mother, to rescue them. It is good to watch as she finally takes the steps to lead her own life as she desires, overcomes her lethargy, and takes charge. The lost soul, Sherrilyn, is a beaten down thing but her pregnancy has given her a goal and the beginnings of some strength to protect herself and her unborn child. She stands firm when she doesn’t want to have an abortion against the abusive Denny, and refuses to agree to give up the baby for adoption. The characters that populate the pages of the book seem so very real, not unlike those that populate your own community.I recommend this book for readers that like a story of overcoming the odds and taking charge of one’s life. There is romance and a strong sense of accomplishment throughout the book for many characters.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.
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