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East of the Sun, West of the Moon
     

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

5.0 11
by Carole Bellacera
 

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A congressman's wife, long neglected by her insensitive, workaholic husband, starts an affair with a charismatic younger man, and changes the destiny of her life.

Forty-year-old LEIGH FALLON, wife of congressman BOB FALLON, and mother of three children, has been in a loveless marriage for several years, but she doesn't realize she's unhappy. Not until a Norwegian

Overview

A congressman's wife, long neglected by her insensitive, workaholic husband, starts an affair with a charismatic younger man, and changes the destiny of her life.

Forty-year-old LEIGH FALLON, wife of congressman BOB FALLON, and mother of three children, has been in a loveless marriage for several years, but she doesn't realize she's unhappy. Not until a Norwegian graduate student, ERIK HAUKELAND, moves into their home and turns her world upside down. For the first time in years, Leigh feels sensual and attractive, all because of the soft look in Erik's eyes whenever their glances meet. When Leigh discovers that Bob has been having an affair with his attractive administrative assistant, she stops resisting Erik, and they begin having a torrid affair. What she doesn't expect is to fall in love with him, and he with her. He wants her to leave her family and return to Norway with him, but she can't leave her kids. The inevitable happens, and the affair is discovered. Bob files for divorce, and Erik returns to Norway. Leigh's children are appalled at what they see as Leigh's betrayal of their father, and nursing her wounds, Leigh moves into her friend, DEANNA'S penthouse apartment in New York and tries to start a new life. After Deanna is diagnosed with breast cancer, Leigh gives into Erik's pleas to come to Norway for a visit. For a couple of days everything is wonderful between them until Leigh discovers that Erik is the father of a little boy by a pretty redhead named MARGIT. And what's worse, Erik is obligated to marry her. Leigh is devastated.

She returns to Washington DC and throws herself into a new life, determined to win back the love of her children. As the year passes, a new man comes into her life, and in Norway, Erik marries Margit. Still, no matter how much Leigh and Erik try, they can't seem to forget each other. And soon they will find that nothing can stop them from finding their way back to each other, not even distance, death or betrayal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bellacera (Border Crossings) sets this pleasingly melodramatic sudser on Capitol Hill and the fjords of Norway. In her 40s, Leigh Fallon appears to have everything: married to a congressman, she has three terrific children and a successful career illustrating children's books. Unfortunately, her boorish husband, Bob, generally ignores her, belittles her successes and refuses to sleep with her. When Leigh discovers that Bob has been cheating on her with his administrative assistant, it's the last straw. She now feels liberated to begin her own affair with Erik Haukeland, the 27-year-old Norwegian exchange student who's been living in the Fallon home and who has made it clear from the day of his arrival that he desires Leigh. As the two fall in love, it spells the overdue end of the Fallon marriage, but there's more trouble ahead. Bob turns the children against their mother and, when Leigh accompanies Erik to Norway, she uncovers secrets that alter the picture entirely. Even after a new man enters her life, Leigh faces further domestic turbulence and heartache. While most of the characterization rings true, Bob's churlish behavior and ultraconservative politics are overdrawn to cartoonish effect, making it hard for readers to understand why sensitive Leigh ever married him. On the other hand, domestic scenes between Leigh and the kids, rendered with casual ease, form a strong counterpoint to the moral problems Leigh must confront. As for the core theme how one balances responsibility to family with responsibility to oneself it should resonate with readers, many of whom are confronted with the same question on a daily basis. Border Crossings was a finalist in two categories for the RomanceWriters of America's RITA Award; this new novel is written with similar assurance. Author appearances in Virginia. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sometimes the old saw about being careful what you wish for can cut through a jungle of intrigue. Leigh Fallon is an example. The pretty and vivacious wife of Congressman Bob Fallon, Leigh has put up with her photo-op marriage for so many years that she can barely remember what romance feels like. A scout mother, Washington hostess, and children's book illustrator, Leigh is one of those who make up in activity what they lack in feeling. She even agrees to take a Norwegian exchange student into their home for a year, as a favor to a sociologist friend. But when Erik (a tall blond youth in his 20s) arrives, Leigh begins to get an idea of what she's been missing for so long. And when she discovers that Bob has been giving his secretary a good deal more than dictation, she feels no obligation to hold herself back-especially since Erik feels just as strongly about her. But passion isn't about to save the day here, and Leigh soon finds that her affair threatens not only her marriage (such as it is), but her relations with her three children as well. Where to draw the line? Well, no one ever traced the course of true love with a ruler. RITA Award-winner Bellacera (Spotlight, 2000, etc.) can spin yarns out of some pretty fluffy wool, but here she manages to keep the tempo up and throws some nice color into the weave.
From the Publisher
"Bellacera handles her book's complex subject matter beautifully, and she writes honestly and realistically about the joys and sorrows Leigh experiences."-Booklist

"Bellacera explores a myriad of complex emotions and tough behavioral choices. . . . Ms. Bellacera's prose is always gripping."-Romantic Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765300799
Publisher:
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
07/25/2001
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
381
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.66(h) x 1.28(d)

Read an Excerpt

July 1989

"Mark, you have truly lost your mind."

Leigh tossed the flyer back to her nineteen-year-old son. "You don't think I have enough to do? I'm working on deadline to get these illustrations to Ellen. Aaron's scout troop sees me so much they're considering me for membership, and Mel has me running a chauffeur service between here and the mall. And now, you want me to host a Scandinavian exchange student for an entire year?"

Mark gave her his famous pleading puppy-dog look, one he knew she was susceptible to. "It would be great for my sociology class. Think of what it could teach me to have a foreign student living with us."

Leigh sighed and turned back to her drawing table. "That argument might wash if we were talking about a student from Zimbabwe." She darkened the outline of a plump rabbit with her charcoal. "But Scandinavia isn't much different from America in culture."

Mark ran an exasperated hand through his thick, dark brown hair. "Will you at least think about it? You've always talked about how much you want to go to Europe. Having a European in the house would be almost as good as going there."

"But Mark, a year. That's a long time to have a stranger living with us."

"He wouldn't be a stranger for long. And if you're worried about his character, you've got to know what it takes to be a graduate exchange student. We're not talking about a slacker here."

"That's not what I'm worried about." A wry smile flickered on her lips. "You keep saying 'he?' Isn't it possible our house guest could be a girl?"

"That thought did occur to me." A teasing light sparkled in Mark's brown eyes. "I've read about those hotSwedish ladies."

Leigh leaned back and stretched her aching muscles. "Don't believe it. I'm sure all the girls in Sweden aren't blue-eyed blondes with lush bodies."

"Does this mean you'll think about it?" Mark wore a smug look on his face as if he knew he'd already won.

It screamed to be wiped away.

"Your father probably won't go for it. You know how busy he is."

It worked. The smug look disappeared and frustration replaced it. "That's just the point. He's never here. He's either on the Hill or away on some business trip. He probably wouldn't notice if you moved in a whole army of exchange students."

"Don't get smart. Anyway, we'll still have to discuss it with him." Leigh dismissed him, turning back to her sketch. "As soon as I get a chance, I'll mention it."

His dark eyebrows lowered. "You'll probably have to make an appointment with him."

"I said I'll talk to him. That's all I can do."

"Thanks, Mom." He gave her an endearing smile.

Leigh felt her heart melt. Mark's smile always did that to her--and he knew it. With an affectionate ruffle of her ash-blond hair, he left the room. She sat for a moment staring at her unfinished illustration. It was for a new children's book due out at Christmas. In another week or two she'd be ready to drop it off to Ellen. The illustrations would appear in Hydra Kouripoulous' picture book, the last six of which Leigh had been commissioned to illustrate. With the publication of each one, her sense of satisfaction had grown, and even Bob's patronizing attitude towards her "hobby" didn't diminish the accomplishment she felt. Her art was a career to her, but somehow, her husband had never quite accepted that.

Leigh stood and walked over to the window seat overlooking the gently rolling hills and knolls of Northern Virginia. In the distance among the tall oak trees, she could see one of the attractions of the three acres of land they owned, a flowing brook that meandered through the property and ended with a small cascading waterfall into a rock-carved pool. It was one of her favorite places to sit and read or sketch ... when she had the elusive spare moment.

With a sigh, she turned from the window. No use putting it off any longer. It was time to put down her pencils and charcoal and go downstairs to start dinner. With one last glance at her unfinished sketch, she descended the winding stairs from the loft studio into the bedroom and jogged downstairs to the kitchen. It was a room which, most of the time, filled her with delight. A spacious country kitchen with an island cook-top and sink. Plenty of cabinet space including a corner Lazy Susan and counters of slate blue Mexican tile to match the flooring. But today, her beautiful and functional kitchen gave her no pleasure. Somehow, Washington's hot humid summers were not conducive to gourmet cooking, even to the most adventurous of chefs.

But hungry kids were hungry kids, and Leigh was determined they wouldn't live off McDonalds' hamburgers all summer. As she browned the ground round for lasagna, the back door swung open.

"Hi, Mom."

Her ten-year-old son, Aaron, stepped into the kitchen, followed closely by Ivan, the family Golden Retriever.

"Hi, babe. Close the door. You're letting the hot air in."

Aaron acknowledged her command by slamming the door fiercely, sending a shaft of pain through her skull.

"What's for dinner?"

Leigh glanced at her son. "What've you been doing?"

Aaron's normally shiny blond hair was dark with sweat and black grime. His face and clothing appeared to be covered with the same gruesome substance.

"Nathan and me were playing war-games down by the creek," he said, scratching the back of his filthy neck. "We were killing Arabs."

Leigh grimaced. Amazing how much he sounded like his father. "Aaron, I don't like hearing things like that from you. It's vulgar and racist, and I won't have it."

"But Dad says it," he protested.

Leigh gritted her teeth. "Like I said, it's vulgar and racist." I may not be able to stop Bob from spouting off his firebrand politics, but I'll be damned if I have listen to my ten-year-old mimicking him. Aaron shrugged and reached for the cookie canister. Leigh lunged for it, grabbing it first. "No, you don't. It's too close to dinner."

"Jeez, Mom, I'm starved."

"Tough. Dinner will be ready in an hour. Why don't you and Nathan go swimming? He can stay for dinner."

Aaron's face brightened. "Okay." He ran for the back door.

"Get cleaned up first." Leigh called after him, but he was already gone. With a sharp bark, Ivan leaped up against the screen door and watched him go.

After Leigh popped the lasagna into the oven, she stepped outside to water the peonies planted along the back of the house. Like walking into a sauna, she thought, as the sticky humid air enveloped her. At that moment, Melissa appeared with her best friend, Andrea. With shining blonde hair, the fifteen-year-old girls were almost carbon-copies of each other, especially since their wardrobe apparently was interchangeable. Andrea was wearing a sleeveless red-plaid shirt--the same one Leigh had bought for Melissa only a few days ago.

"Hi." Melissa wore the terminal expression of boredom she'd acquired since turning thirteen. "We'll be up in my room 'til dinner's ready. Oh, it is okay if Andi eats with us, isn't it?"

Leigh smiled "Sure. What have..." The girls turned to go into the house. "Hey, not so fast. I haven't seen you all day. What've you two been up to?"

Andrea grinned sheepishly. "Oh, you know ... hanging out..." Her reply was drowned out by a shriek that blasted through the air. Two wiry bodies bolted from around the corner of the house and jumped into the swimming pool with a loud splash.

Melissa shrieked as pellets of chlorinated water saturated her neat mini-skirt. She turned furiously to her mother. "Mom. Did you see what that little monster did?"

Leigh laughed. "What are you, a witch? Think you're going to melt?" She twisted her fingers into claws and grimaced. "I'm mellltting..."

Melissa rolled her eyes. "Mom, please." She looked over at her friend. "You can't take her anywhere."

Leigh grinned and turned back to the flowers. "Why don't you two go for a swim?"

"With those two little brats in the pool? Forget it. Come on, Andi, let's go listen to Guns N' Roses. Have you seen their new video? It's so cool..." Her voice trailed away as she led Andrea into the house.

Leigh turned off the hose, stood back and glanced at her watch. Surely Bob would be home any minute. But then, just as she stepped into the house, the phone rang, and she knew that they'd be eating without him once again.

Meet the Author

Carole Bellacera's work has appeared in magazines such as Woman's World, The Star, Endless Vacation and The Washington Post. Her latest novel, LILY OF THE SPRINGS, is available in print and e-book format. Carole's first novel, "Border Crossings", a hardcover published by Forge Books in May of 1999, was a 2000 RITA Award nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book, a nominee for the 2000 Virginia Literary Award in Fiction. It was also a 2000 finalist in the Golden Quill award and in the Aspen Gold Award and won 1st Place in the Volusia County 2000 Laurel Wreath Award. Her work has appeared in various anthologies such as Kay Allenbaugh's Chocolate for a Woman's Heart, Chocolate for a Couples' Heart and Chicken Soup for Couples.
Publishing Credits

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East of the Sun, West of the Moon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Leigh Fallon is feeling smothered in her marriage to Bob, a Congressman who masterfully takes her for granted and belittles her. When she discovers that Bob has been cheating with an aide, Leigh decides to act on her attraction to Erik, a Norwegian foreign exchange student staying in her home. Though Erik is thirteen-years younger than her youthful forty, Leigh has been attracted to him since her college aged son introduced them.

But her affair with Erik comes with a price. When it is discovered, Bob makes sure that their three children thoroughly blame their mother. Twenty-year-old Mark is disgusted that his mother had a fling with his friend Erik. Eleven-year-old Aaron seems confused by his mother¿s behavior. And fifteen-year-old Melissa goes on a dating rampage just to prove her dislike of her mother. As circumstances intervene and prevent Erik and Leigh from being together, she makes a new life for herself working at a Georgetown art gallery. Will they be able to get on with their lives without each other?

How refreshing to find a novel portraying love and romance for a forty-something woman who is definitely not past her prime. And the real clincher is that a younger handsome man finds her more attractive than other women his own age. In a world where women over thirty are often found lacking, Ms. Bellacera¿s novel shows that a woman¿s maturity gives her depth and inner beauty not often found in her twenty-something counterparts. With a sense of true realism, this read explores the complex nature of relationships, both romantic and familial. This three dimensional read is a novel to be savored.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a touching book.I never read anything like it.This was true love.Kayleigh and Erik were made for each other.Erik was not going to let her go.After two long years of loving her and wanting her he would not let her pass by him.At the end he found her and would never let her slip away from him agian.I definitly recommend this book to everyone.It has strong true passion and love.This story made me cry and laugh.It was 381 pages long and I finished it in 3 days! Once you open this book you won't be able to put it down!If your true love is out there don't let them pass you by.Please read this book.I honestly think it's an outstanding book of love and raw passion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In her latest novel, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Carole Bellacera swims against the tide of convention and explores the consequences of a middle-aged woman¿s love for a younger man. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Tackling cutting edge subject matter, this talented writer treads where few authors of romantic fiction dare to travel. Set between Washington DC and Norway, Ms. Bellacera¿s depiction of the Norwegian countryside, customs and myth sweeps the reader into a winter wonderland of poignant beauty. Despite their family¿s shocked disapproval, society¿s mores and the ruthless manipulation of other characters, the protagonists, Leigh and Erik struggle to remain true to each other and themselves. It is, however, their own guilt and false assumptions that prove the greatest barrier to love. Ultimately, the affair strips away every shred of false ego and self-doubt to unlock their greatest personal truths. And isn¿t that what love is supposed to do? Without preaching, this compassionate story urges us all to look within and question our assumptions about right, wrong, psychological bondage and personal choice. Thank you, Ms. Bellacera, for your dazzling characters and fresh perspective on a May/October romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From Washington, DC to the snow-capped mountains of Norway, East of the Sun, West of the Moon will hold you in thrall. The sexual tension between Leigh and Erik sizzles throughout the story. A cast of quirky, sometimes downright evil secondary characters and stellar pacing combine to make this a riveting read. Ms. Bellacera keeps getting better with every book!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Leigh is married to a senior congressman. They have three beautiful children and a fantastic home in Virginia. Yet Leigh is totally miserable. Her husband is always on the run and never has time for her. The little time they spend together is celibate because he¿s impotent at least with her. Her esteem has sunk to an all time low when a postgraduate exchange student from Denmark stays with them for a year.

From the time they set eyes on each other, Leigh and Erik have a red hot molten attraction for one another. Leigh resists going to bed with him until she finds some condoms in her husband¿s bag. She knows then that he is cheating on her because she had her tubes tied years ago. Thus Leigh and Eric have an affair but have much to overcome, including another woman, if they want to make a life together.

Carla Bellacera has written a fabulous relationship drama in which people make bad decisions for the right reasons, a practice that leads to heartache for everyone concerned. EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON is a beautiful love story that will appeal to fans of Belva Plain and Laura van Wormer.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a heartfelt story of passion, life and love, this is the book for you. The reality of Leigh's struggle to live and love again will bring tears to your eyes and warmth to your heart. This book has it all: love, honesty, compassion, intrigue and so much more. I kept wondering clear up to the end how Erik and Leigh could have a happy ending but the ending of this beautiful tale is perfect for these characters. Despite everything that life dishes out for these two, the story does end happily. You will find yourself thinking about this tale long after you've finished reading it. If you haven't read a book by Carole Bellacera, you should. It won't be long until this wonderful author will be hitting all the bestseller lists. She is truly an author to watch and I look forward to reading many more of her books. This is Ms. Bellacera's third novel from Forge Publishing. Her first, BORDER CROSSINGS, a February 2000 hardback release was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON is a sad account of a woman torn between 'doing the right thing' and taking care of her soul. Leigh and Erik are perfect for each other, both intelligent, warm, caring people...I found myself holding my breath towards the end...For readers who want to make their summer nights even steamier, pick up a copy of EAST OF THE SUN WEST OF THE MOON.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the title for this book that is taken from THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkein referring to the new roads or hidden gates we have often passed by, and then the day comes when we take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon, East of the Sun as it is so appropriate for this extraordinary story of love and heartbreak. EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON held me in its grip from page one. There is a marvelous cast of characters and lives that just won't let you go. Carole Bellacera only gets better and better with every book. A mesmerizing voice in women's mainstream fiction. Definitely an author not to be missed. A true find!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This powerful and moving novel held me enthralled and had me up far too late at night reading just one more chapter. Once I started reading, I simply couldn't stop until I'd finished. At first glance, the Fallons are a typical family. Bob is a congressman, Leigh, a stay at home mother who illustrates children's books as a hobby and their children, Mark, Melissa and Aaron. Mark is in college and talks his parents into hosting a Scandinavian exchange student for a year. This is the beginning of the end of the perfect family. Erik Haukeland is a twenty-seven year old friendly young man who is working on his Psychology degree. He fits in very well and tries hard to get along with everyone. Leigh starts having fantasies about Erik and is appalled at herself. When she finds a box of condoms in her husband's travel bag, she has to reevaluate her relationship with her husband as she's had a tubal ligation years before. Erik walks in on Leigh just as she finds the condoms. In retaliation to her husband, Leigh starts an affair with Erik, knowing it is morally wrong. They have no way of knowing that their affair will be much more than that. It will literally tear a family apart. One moment I was laughing and the next crying in this highly emotional book. It most definitely is a must read. I horoughly enjoyed it and eagerly look forward to Carole Bellacera's next book.