Etta and Tom have a problem. They just kissed each other passionately — but neither one can remember doing it!
So begins this thoroughly engaging, meticulously written romance about two young people who overcome adversity and problematic pasts to grow a beautiful relationship. A supporting ensemble cast of friends and other well-developed characters helps make this excellent debut novel something truly special.
More about that mysterious kiss: it happens during a hypnotist’s act at a local nightclub and — since both Etta and Tom were under the showman’s spell — they only find out about it later from friends who attended the performance. It’s an awkward start to the pairing, to be sure, but it’s easily overcome with the loving support of Tom’s twin sister Izzy and the rest of the bubbly crew that either lives in, or hangs out at, House Donato.
Unbeknownst to the others, Etta harbors deep, secret grief and guilt over past events that were well beyond her control. And Tom, for all his good looks and outwardly carefree ways, still wishes a career-ending hockey injury hadn’t happened. However, both must look ahead to a positive, proactive future.
But can a tenderly growing love overcome and nullify these heartrending hurts?
They take it ever-so-slowly and start by becoming “life friends” first, sharing their intimate thoughts and dreams. As things progress, however, they find they cannot deny the sensual side of their feelings for each other.
When at last they go well past “second base,” the author does a masterful job of describing the torrid scene:
“He ran his lips up her neck back to her mouth to engulf her with his need while one hand caressed her hair. His other hand wandered over the curves of her body, stroking her skin with a feathered lightness. It seemed he was touching her everywhere at once, and she was overwhelmed with desire.”
The sensitive love scenes between Tom and Etta are handled with a lyrical touch, yet are steamy enough to raise any reader’s heart rate appreciably.
And, it’s not just the “hubba-hubba” instances that show off this writer’s fine hand. She often paints beautiful word pictures that draw you into the picturesque countryside:
“The sky was filled with a cloudless, crisp, clear perfect blue that first Saturday in October. The sun blazed warm through the gold and auburn leaves as they shook in the gentle breeze.”
But not everything is rosy in Etta’s world. A shadow from her past drapes itself heavily across her happiness and she must make a heart-wrenching choice leading to an uncertain future.
Will Tom’s steadfast love be strong enough to see her safely through the storm that awaits her? Can Etta find peace — both figuratively and literally– as the story builds to its surprising conclusion? Find out for yourself by downloading this romantic gem today.
Five stars to Henrietta, and warm accolades to its author, Patricia M. Jackson. We look forward to her next literary endeavor.