Get ready for one of the most enthralling romance novels of summer! Romance novelist Fern Michaels writes fiction of strong emotional intensity. Her Vegas Rich, Vegas Hwat, and Vegas Sunrise hit the national bestseller lists for good reasons. She's a writer of fascinating characters, intriguing stories, and wonderfully drawn settings. But her new book, Finders Keepers, is one of her most involving yet! Romance readers will fall in love with the heroine of this one as she struggles to understand her past and, ultimately, her future.
Barnes and Thea Roland are a truly messed-up couple. After a few miscarriages, and the death of their baby daughter, they have turned to drink and avoidance to hold their crumbling marriage together. Thea is already a bitter woman because of these experiences. One day, when they are driving together, Barnes stops in a small mountain town to get his wife a soda. Near the soda machine is a stroller with a young child in it. Thea makes a mad dash from the car, and grabs the little girl. She and her husband kidnap the child in order to fill a void in their lives.
But the other side to this story is that of Grace and Ben Larson. They are the parents of little Hannah, the child taken by the Rolands. Grace runs out of the gas station, only to find that both her daughter and the family dog, Jelly, are gone. The dog has broken his lead and run off after the car. Three days later, the dog returns in terrible shape from having chased the car as far as it could. Hannah does not return. There was no witness to the kidnapping, andtheLarsons' lives take a turn for the worst after this tragedy. Grace loses her job and then loses interest in life; her husband, Ben, ends up losing his work, too. Finally, their house is foreclosed on. The local church builds them a home, and Grace spends the next several years pining for their lost child.
More than a decade later, in South Carolina, Hannah is now called Jessie. She has led an overly protected life with the clingy, smothering Thea. Every year Thea and Barnes Roland have sent huge amounts of untraceable cash to the Larsons as a way of making up for the monstrous act they committed. But no amount of wealth can make Jessie truly love Thea. Jessie has never had a life of her own nor been able to make her own decisions. Finally, soon after her high school graduation, she hatches a plan with her best friend, Sophie. She will just disappear so that her parents can't find her. Jessie loves Barnes, but when she lets him know that she will be leaving for good, he understands, having been completely defeated by his own guilt.
From this point on, Finders Keepers zooms! Jessie gets out and discovers life, and in the process begins to piece together the mystery of who she is and where she is from. But the real world outside her protected existence is not necessarily better. She marries badly but discovers in her second love, Lucas Palmer, the light at the end of this tunnel. As Jessie finds love and family, she also learns about true friendship and forgiveness.
Fern Michaels has written what is, in many ways, her masterpiece. It is a story both of emotional twisting and turning and of the coming of age of a young woman discovering the secrets of her childhood. There were points where I laughed and cried and never wanted the story of Jessie and her friends to end. Michaels has entered the ranks of the master storytellers of romance, which include Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and LaVyrle Spencer. Highly recommended!
Jessi Rose Lucas