Derek has been in love with Vanessa for ever. His feelings have kept him from having a serious relationship--or a casual one--with any other woman. So when she finally turns to him, he doesn't want to settle for being a "friend with benefits" kind of person. But Vanessa is a very hard person to resist for long.
Just as things with Vanessa begin heating up, disturbing photos begin showing up at Vanessa's doorstep. Someone is watching her every move--someone she may very well know. Terrifies by the stalker's very real threats, Vanessa soon begins to realize that Derek may very well be her kind of hero.
Derek was just one of those wonderful friendship kind of guys, the kind that never fail to "be there" when needed. Best friend to her deceased husband, Vanessa knew that Derek was one of those special people who keep everything from becoming disorganized during a crisis, who step in to take on the burdens when someone is hurting, who is the kind of friend everyone visualizes as being a part of their friendship circle. For Vanessa, Derek was the rock that anchored when her 36 year old husband died unexpected causes. Somehow he managed to keep her together, took over the funeral arrangements when she nearly came unglued, kept track of all the floral donations, and continued to support her and to be her rock and general "fix-it" man in the years since she was alone. Maybe it was because he was a research librarian at the local university, but there was a general aura of quiet and calm all around him, all the time. His presence as he repaired her porch, cleaned out the rain gutters, or saw to her house in some way was a sign that his friendship was open-ended. What Vanessa didn't know was that Derek would have walked off the edge of the earth if she had asked it of him.
This novella highlights the kinds of challenges that face women after the loss of a loved one as well as pointing out that close proximity to someone often blinds us to the true value they have in one's life and daily experience. This is a very well-written novella and the characters are everyday people trying to find a common path to contentment and fulfillment. Both Derek and Vanessa are introspective people who are not open with their feelings and their reluctance to share kept them imprisoned in the "same old, same old" kind of life. Even after Vanessa worked up the courage to invite Derek to share a more personal relationship, to deepen their friendship into something more, he fled. The story reveals issues that both Vanessa and Derek must face before they can expect any future relationship to develop between them. Yet they are both charming in their reticence to move forward--Vanessa is wanting a new love in her life. She is a woman who is bone-tired of being alone. Derek is one of those gentle souls many of us are around all the time. This is indeed a tentative but gentle and winsome love story and journey of discovery. I think the story also brings into greater definition the issue of what really lies beneath a carefully crafted and guarded exterior. Both of these people must come to grips with the deeper feelings that are driving them--choosing to remain on the safe and pedantic plain of friendship they currently hold dear, or take some risks and open up those deep wellsprings of feelings that could easily overwhelm and irrevocably change them and their future as friends.
This is the first novella by this author I have read but I must confess that I found it a beautiful story filled with a kind of gentle energy that engaged my spirit and was deeply satisfying for my mind and emotions. It smacked of reality in a way that I found compelling--these two people seemed to me to be reminiscent of so many individuals who stand on the brink of greater intimacy, having to choose whether to hold pat or take a risk and move forward. The path of life is fraught with potholes and this story explores the speed bumps that can confound forward progress in the search for love and fulfillment.
This is not an extensive literary piece so will not take up a vast amount of the reader's time. But I think it is well worth the time investment and will be one of those stories that will feed the cravings for romance so many of us love to have as a part of our lives. I give this novella a 4 out of 5.
This novella was released by Carina Press on 22 November 2010.