Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lorraine Heath - Parting Gifts

Desperate for food and shelter, she came to a Texas brothel, knowing what she had to do to survive...
A widower with three children, he knew he wanted more from Maddie than one night of pleasure. He wanted to marry her..
Overnight she went from a dire situation to a comfortable home filled with the warmth of family. But the truth behind their quick marriage was bittersweet -- for Charles Lawson knew he was dying, and he wanted more than anything to leave his children with the gift of love, with a kind and caring mother. And in his race against time, he made the boldest decision of all: Maddie could build a new life -- and a loving home -- with his brother, Jesse. For even as the tender memories of a love past live on, the heart endures, ready to love once more...

Comment: This is another one of the many titles I had in my TBR and felt like reading. I knew the story would be emotional and I wanted to spend a good time learning to like the characters. I already knew the author is talented so I expected a good story.

This is the tale of Maddie, a young woman we meet at the beginning of the book when she enters a brothel because she doesn't have money, she doesn't have anything else to trade for food and her family's dead. She accepts to be there because it's her last resource but she wasn't counting on being saved right away from a unknown man who proposes her a sort of job in exchange for his saving her: she will be his wife and a mother for his children.
Maddie accepts this offer, she feels she should pay back somehow to the man who saved her but what she's unaware is the fact her new husband is sick and that living near his brother will prove to be the best and most challenging task of her life...

There's really something to be said about historical love stories where situations so weird and impossible to our contemporary ways can be believable and romantic. This is my favorite thing about these novels, how we can escape to a world where rules and living were so different we can't expect anything to be solved like we do today.
The plot to this story is a good example, first it must have been very difficult to a man to pay to save a prostitute - even if it was her first night, like with Maddie - then to marry her to offer her a honest living and the only thing he wanted in return was for her to care for his children. Still, this resonated deeply to my feelings of honor and decency and I always feel happy when good people act honorably and are fair to those around them and live a simple but dedicated life.
I was sold on this plot and the personality and characterization of Maddie from the very start.

The story isn't totally simple because there are things Maddie doesn't know but when she does she doesn't react crazy or recklessly, she understands and she keep trying her best to be the person that family needs to have a normal life as long as she can. She cooks, does work and cares for every member of the family. She has fears and secrets and honestly I could have done without the secrets part because the story already had an intense drama and didn't need more to make it seem fuller - if that was the goal there.

Maddie is wonderful but she is in a dilemma. She cars for her husband Thomas and his children but Jesse, her single brother-in-law, he is the one for her. She doesn't think that right away but with time they get closer and fall in love. I liked their romance felt inevitable but never did they act fully on it. They never cheated on Thomas and I applaud that.

Jesse is a captivating character. I really liked him, he's honorable too and he does things putting other's feelings into perspective. He falls for Maddie but he still tries to see his brother happy and helps him any way he can and I confess to feel very pleased by his dedication. Jesse is a character that soothes because he isn't alpha and demanding, he tries his best to help others.

This story ends in a very emotional and heartbreaking way. I think there's a deep sad part and then the way things happen after are expected, still beautiful but I think a couple of changes would have done better justice to the characters involved.
I really liked the plot, so many scenes where several emotions ran though me, where we got to see how everyone was shaped. I don't think this story is as perfect as it could be, there are some parts a bit pushed together to work out which look rushed in a way, and I also think some explanations could be better.
Still, the very end was sweet, a bit over done in a particular case, but overall, this is a beautiful, entertaining story and it made me feel happy to have read it.
Grade: 8/10

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