Jane's Melody: A Novel

( 163 )

Overview

WHAT BOUNDARIES WOULD YOU CROSS FOR TRUE LOVE?

That’s the question a grieving mother must answer when she takes in a young street musician she believes can shed light on her daughter’s death—only to find herself falling for him. A sexy but touching love story that will leave you both tantalized and in tears, Jane’s Melody follows a forty-year-old woman on a romantic journey of rediscovery after years of struggling alone.

Sometimes our greatest ...

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Jane's Melody: A Novel

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Overview

WHAT BOUNDARIES WOULD YOU CROSS FOR TRUE LOVE?

That’s the question a grieving mother must answer when she takes in a young street musician she believes can shed light on her daughter’s death—only to find herself falling for him. A sexy but touching love story that will leave you both tantalized and in tears, Jane’s Melody follows a forty-year-old woman on a romantic journey of rediscovery after years of struggling alone.

Sometimes our greatest gifts come from our greatest pain. And now Jane must decide if it’s too late for her to start over, or if true love really knows no limits.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times bestselling author - Elin Hilderbrand
"Envy!! Ryan Winfield has written a shockingly hot and sweet love story. Jane's Melody is both an escape and an utter joy."
New York Times bestselling author - Carly Phillips
"An achingly beautiful story about the pain of loss and the healing power of love.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476771236
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 285,349
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s Harmony, Jane’s Melody, South of Bixby Bridge, and the Park Service trilogy. He lives in Seattle. To connect with Ryan, visit him at RyanWinfield.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Jane's Melody

Chapter 2

The car behind Jane’s honked its horn.

She shifted into drive and drove onto the ferry. She was in the front of a vehicle lane, behind a group of dripping cyclists clad in yellow rain gear making their workday commute. They looked miserable but determined as they stowed their bikes and filed past her car on their way up to the onboard cafeteria, their clip-on bike shoes clacking loudly on the metal stairs. A ferry worker came around and blocked her tires, the corners of his bearded mouth half attempting a smile, but giving it up when he saw the hopeless expression on her face.

For everyone else it was just another day.

With the ferry under way, Jane sat in her car and watched the dark rain clouds drift across Elliott Bay. The ferry vibrated under the thrust of its engines and her pine-tree air freshener bounced on its string from the mirror where it was hung. She watched as a seagull flew in front of the ferry, riding the wake of air thrown from its bow. Jane hadn’t been to the city in a long time. Too long, she thought. If only she’d gone looking for her daughter, offered her more help, maybe Melody would still be alive. She knew Grace would remind her that she’d done all she could, all anyone could—that she’d paid for five treatment centers and given Melody all the support possible, until it was time to release her with love.

She remembered what the counselor at the last treatment center had said: “You can throw her a rope, but you’ve got to make her climb up it herself.” And she had thrown her a rope, hadn’t she? She had offered to take Melody home, with only one ironclad rule: she had to stay clean and sober. But Melody had turned the offer down and slipped away once more to be wasted with that junk she sought night in and night out, surfing the city from couch to couch.

The ferry blew its foghorn, startling Jane back from her thoughts. She hit her wipers to clear a spray of rain that had been driven by wind onto the ferry deck, and she watched as the Seattle skyline developed on the canvas of white fog ahead. She had lived in the city herself when she was young, attending the University of Washington, working toward a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies. But then she had met Bruce and fallen in love, or so she had thought. She was five months pregnant when Bruce took off, leaving her alone to prepare for her new baby, just another college dropout cliché. She had thought Bainbridge Island would be the perfect place to raise Melody—quiet and peaceful, a small-town island with great schools. And it was, for a while. But it seemed no place was immune from the influence of teenage drinking and drugs, especially when you were born predisposed to abuse them. Alcoholism surely ran in Jane’s family. She suspected it ran in Melody’s father’s family too.

The ferry docked and the bikers mounted up and pedaled away into the rain. Jane followed them off and drove through town up toward Capitol Hill.

As she passed familiar places, she wondered if her daughter had discovered them as well. Maybe Melody had even felt her ghost there in the old café, her head bent over schoolbooks. Or perhaps her daughter had seen her fingerprints on a shelf in the neighborhood bookstore that hadn’t changed or likely even been dusted since Melody was born. Or had their eyes met across twenty years’ worth of wax on the bar in the Steampipe Lounge, where a cute girl could always hustle a Friday night drink or two if she had a fake ID? God, was I young and stupid, Jane thought. But she had to admit that it had been fun too.

When she arrived at the apartment building, she double-checked the address, just to be sure. It was an old, rundown, three-story craftsman that had been converted long ago into walk-up apartments. But despite the peeling paint and sagging roofline, the address numbers on the curb were freshly painted and clear. So this was where her daughter had lived. This was where her daughter had died.

The rain had slowed to a drizzle, and Jane sat in her car and looked out the water-specked window, letting her eyes walk up the exterior stairs to the red third-floor door that her daughter had entered for the last time just ten days before. Had she known? Jane wondered. Had she stopped to drink in one last view of the city? Had the clouds cleared to present one final sunset to see her off ? Had she had second thoughts? Or was she bent on getting inside for her fix, seeing nothing but the waiting oblivion she so craved? Jane only half wished she could understand.

They were the hardest climb Jane had ever had to make.

She knocked on the door and waited.

She knocked again.

“Keep your damn panties on,” a female voice yelled from inside. “I’m coming, already.”

Soon a series of locks unlatched, and the door opened six inches on its chain, revealing a girl’s pale face pressed to the narrow opening.

“I told the lady on the phone I wasn’t agreeing to no damn inspection,” the pale face said. “Besides, I haven’t even had my kid since December, thanks to his asshole father.”

“I’m sorry,” Jane said. “I think you have me mixed up with someone else.”

The girl leaned closer to the opening and looked her over. “Oh, shit! You’re Melody’s mom. I’m sorry.”

“I thought I’d finally come by for her things.”

The girl’s face disappeared as she turned to look into the apartment. When she looked back, Jane assumed she’d unchain the door and invite her in, but she didn’t.

“Wait here,” she said instead. “I’ll get it together for you. It’ll just take a minute.”

Then she shut the door and locked it again.

Jane stood on the step and waited. She looked down on the street below and wondered what path her daughter had walked home that day and from where. The neighborhood reminded her of places she had lived herself once she had escaped her childhood home at seventeen and set out on her own. A tomcat pawed at the contents of an overturned garbage can; a kid kicked a soccer ball down an alley and back again, deftly dodging puddles; a lowered car cruised by with bass music pumping behind tinted glass; and a couple loudly argued in the open window of an apartment across the way.

Jane was about to head down to her car for a quick drag on a cigarette—just one to calm her nerves—when the door opened and the girl thrust a box into her arms.

“Is this all there is?” Jane asked, a little surprised.

The girl shrugged. She had run a comb through her hair and her breath smelled of cough drops when she spoke. “There was some other stuff, but we shared it. I’m sure you know how it is.”

Jane nodded, understanding what she meant.

“I was kinda surprised when you called,” the girl said, “because Melody never mentioned nothing about having any family around here.”

Jane felt tears well up in her eyes. She stood holding the box while one ran down her cheek.

“Shit,” the girl said. “I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry.”

“Was it you who found her?” Jane asked.

The girl shook her head. “Nah. I was at my boyfriend’s all weekend. Candace was the one who came by that morning.” She paused to look down and then added in a quiet voice, “Sometimes I wonder if I’d only been home, you know?”

Jane knew the feeling all too well, but she didn’t say so. Instead, she changed the subject.

“Is there anything you can tell me about her? I mean, what she was up to or how she was doing?”

The girl sighed and tossed up a hand. “I wish I could tell you something. But it’s not like we were close or nothing. She only moved in a few months ago.”

“Do you have any idea where she spent her time?”

“I dunno,” the girl said. “You might try the Devil’s Cup. They called and said they had a final check for her there.”

“Melody had a job?”

“Oh, yeah,” she replied. “She’d been at the Devil’s Cup on Pike since maybe a week after moving in here. Said she was gonna enroll in beauty school too, now that I think about it. Even had the forms all printed out. It wasn’t like you think. She just had a little setback, you know. Guess that’s all it takes sometimes, though. One bad day, one bad rig. Anyway, enough from my ass about that. I gotta run and get ready.”

Jane thanked her and turned to leave. She’d made it two steps down the stairs with her box when the girl called to her.

“Hey! I hate to mention it. You know. With everything. But Melody did owe me some rent.”

Jane stopped and set the box down on the step and fished through her purse for her checkbook. “How much did she owe you?”

“One fifty,” the girl said.

“Who should I make the check out to?”

“You don’t have any cash?”

Jane opened her wallet and counted her cash. “I’ve only got eighty-five dollars.”

“I’ll just take that and call it even,” the girl said.

Jane held the money out but stayed on the second step and made her come out into the light to get it. She saw the dark circles under her eyes, the red track marks on her arms, and she almost pulled the money back but didn’t. The girl snatched the bills, thanked her, then quickly retreated into the apartment again and shut the door and locked it.

Jane drove to the Devil’s Cup and circled the block three times until she found a parking spot near enough to walk. The coffee shop was small and tight, only a few stools surrounding a window counter, and filled with eclectic neighborhood kids with their faces buried in their iPhones. Jane got in line and listened as the people in front of her ordered their caffeine fixes to go—“caffè breve,” “short drip,” “latte macchiato.”

When it was her turn, the girl behind the register pulled a pink sucker from her mouth and asked, “What’ll it be, lady?”

She had red hair and a ring through her eyebrow. Face piercings must be in style, Jane thought, because her daughter had had a small diamond stud in her nose when she arrived at the mortuary. She still wondered sometimes if she had made the right decision to have them leave it in, despite her strong feelings otherwise. She guessed that she had.

“I’m Melody McKinney’s mother,” Jane said.

“I’m sure she’s very proud,” the girl replied, popping the sucker back into her mouth and talking with it in her cheek. “What can we craft you to drink today?”

“Did you know Melody?”

“Should I?” the girl asked.

“I was told she worked here.”

“Oh,” the girl said, looking suddenly mortified. “You’re that Melody’s mother. Sorry. I’m filling in from our Belltown location. Hold on a sec.”

She disappeared into the back room and came out a minute later with an envelope.

“This is her final check,” she said. Then she looked down at the counter and quickly added, “Sorry. That sounded bad.”

Jane tucked the envelope into her purse.

“I was actually hoping that I might be able to talk with someone who worked with Melody. Someone who knew her.”

“You should come back during the week,” the girl said. “Lewis works then and he’d be the best person to talk to.”

“Lewis?”

“Yeah. He’s the manager. You can’t miss him. Looks like a cross between a My Little Pony and the Statue of Liberty.”

Jane stepped outside and took a deep breath of cool, damp air. She had felt the walls closing in on her in the small coffee shop, perhaps because she had kept picturing Melody standing behind the counter smiling at her instead of the rude redhead. If only she’d been here two weeks ago. It seemed a cruel lottery how some lives were cut short while others went on.

As she walked up the block toward her car, she heard a lonely guitar melody carried on the breeze, accompanied by an even lonelier voice. The song was nothing she had ever heard before, but it was beautiful, and it matched her mood.

She followed the music around the corner and found its source standing in a doorway. He was wearing a grungy ball cap and his head was bent over the guitar so that Jane couldn’t see his face. His guitar case was open on the sidewalk in front of him, sprinkled with a few dollar bills and a few coins. Jane was so moved by the song he was playing that she stopped to dig in her purse for something to leave him, but she had given the last of her money to Melody’s roommate. All she came up with was the silver dollar that the stranger had left on Melody’s grave, and she didn’t dare part with that.

She waited for the song to finish so she might ask the man how long he’d be there if she returned with a donation, but when he finally struck the last chord and raised his head, she was struck speechless by his eyes. It was him—the man from the cemetery, the stranger in the rain. The glimpse she’d had through her windshield had been seared into her mind. She would recognize those eyes anywhere, anytime.

Jane thought she saw a flash of recognition in his face too, but it quickly disappeared, replaced by a broad smile as he said, “Got any requests?”

“That was really good,” she said, deciding on the spot not to mention having seen him before. “I mean, really good.”

He dipped his chin.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“Did you write it?”

“Well,” he said, suddenly looking shy, “I haven’t actually written it down anywhere yet, as I’m still working on it in my head, but the melody and the words are my own, if that’s what you mean.”

“That’s really amazing,” Jane said.

“I’m glad you like it. Usually folks prefer the old stuff that they know. Nostalgia, I guess. But as great a song as it is, I can only sing ‘Hallelujah’ so many times in a day.”

She studied his face while he spoke.

“If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”

He took off his ball cap and clawed his hand through his long dark hair. He sighed.

“Well, if they told me the truth about the day I was born, and if I don’t die, I’ll be twenty-five this July.”

“You’re not yet twenty-five and you wrote a song like that? Have you been writing music your whole life?”

“I couldn’t say for sure.” He shrugged. “I haven’t lived my whole life yet.” Then he smiled at her again and changed the subject. “Is there something you’d like to hear?”

Jane was so drawn by the fleck of green burning in his sad eyes that she leaned in to get a closer look.

“What’s your name?”

“Not to be rude, lady, but this is how I make my living. Now, is there a song you’d like to hear? ’Cause if not, I’ve got to be moving on.”

“But I want to talk with you.”

“You’ve got the wrong guy.”

He lifted his guitar over his head, squatted to scoop the change from its case, then closed the guitar up inside.

“I just want to ask you a few questions.”

“There must be fifty guys down on First and Pine who’ll talk your ear off for the price of a pint. I’m not one of them.”

He pinched the brim of his cap as if to say good-bye and picked up his case and walked off with it.

“I saw you at the cemetery,” Jane said to his back.

He stopped and slowly turned around.

“I was in the car watching you. Melody must have meant a lot to you, for you to show up in the rain like that.”

Jane opened her purse. “Here. You left this coin.”

“Was she your sister?” he asked.

“No, I’m her mother.”

A sad expression washed like a storm cloud across his face and his eyes flashed with grief. For a moment Jane thought he might cry. But he dropped his gaze to the sidewalk and said,“I’m sorry for your loss.”

Then he turned and walked away.

No explanation, no good-bye.

Jane stood and watched him go.

No sooner had he disappeared around the corner than a raindrop splashed on the sidewalk in front of her where he had stood, as if his shadow were still there crying.

Alone on the sidewalk, Jane felt her own tears come.

Then a curtain of rain fell at once and Jane slumped down in the covered doorway where he had been playing, wrapped her arms around her knees, and watched the drops beat against the pavement—his melody replaced by the lonesome splash of water beneath the tires of anonymous cars rolling past.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 163 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(98)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 163 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 8, 2013

    A very true to life story. I didn't want to put it down!

    A very true to life story. I didn't want to put it down!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2013

    Great romance

    I have really enjoyed reading this book. It was a nice interesting book. It kept my attention and kept me wanting to know what was next. I was not the same story told over and over. Really nice love story. Thanks Ryan for giving me the opportunity to read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    A perfectly crafted love story--hits all the right notes. I rea

    A perfectly crafted love story--hits all the right notes. I read it in two days; now I want to go back and read it again, slowly this time. Ryan's prose is mesmerizing, his characters memorable. You'll be thinking about Jane and Caleb long after you turn the final page. Read it, love it, share it. This is an author to watch.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    What can I say about this book, other than it is truly a treasur

    What can I say about this book, other than it is truly a treasure. Ryan Winfield approached some very difficult, real life situations, but in a sensitive and touching manner. This book deals with love, loss, and life, and I sighed, laughed, and cried. Jane, is a 40 year old woman who has lost her daughter to a senseless death. She has to find the will to go on, even though it seems impossible with all the what ifs she is plaguing herself with. She meets Caleb, who is 15 years younger than her, but seems a lot wiser than his years. He has not had an easy life, but he has not let it get him down. He helps Jane through her grieving process, and they fall in love. Jane can't let go of the age difference, unless he can convince her that Love is always enough!! You have to read the book to meet the friends and neighbors that will tug at your heart. Oh, and I can't forget the goat, he is hilarious. I also will never eat Doritos, without laughing, and that's all I am going to say about that. Five stars to Mr. Winfield, fantastic book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    I usually don't write reviews but this is a great read. I couldn

    I usually don't write reviews but this is a great read. I couldn't put it down! IIt's a great love story!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Really good read

    Not so much sex as i have grown used to but a good read for those of us who are a little bit older and feelike our lives are over. I readit in omne day!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    Great Book

    I really enjoyed reading Jane's Melody. From heart break to finding love this book kept me wanting to read more. I look forward to reading more books from Ryan Winfield.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    Loved the book! Kinda reminded me of my own life, but I let go

    Loved the book! Kinda reminded me of my own life, but I let go and there are definitely days I wish I would of held on!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Jane's Melody captured my attention and I had a difficult time p

    Jane's Melody captured my attention and I had a difficult time putting it down.  I was caught from the first.  I look forward to 
    reading more of Ryan Winfield's books.  He has a gift with making you care about his characters and what happens to them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Best book

    Wow what an amazing book. I loved this story. It sucked me right in from the beginning.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2013

    What a wonderful book

    I fell in love with charters in this book! It was so well written and it keep my interest.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2013

    LOVED IT

    I had heard about this book and decided to try it. I am so glad I did! I loved the story! Jane goes from hearbreak, to finding love, to losing love, to comforting a dear close friend to finding love again. I would highly recommend this book. Exceptional story!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Loved this book!

    I fell in love with these characters! I laughed and cried and didnt want to put the book down! A great read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2013

    I loved the book, it was a good love story.  Also how precious l

    I loved the book, it was a good love story.  Also how precious life is.
    I would definitely buy more of Ryan's books

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Good book!!!

    My friend recommended I read it. When I finally did I couldn't put it down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    loved it...

    I read this book because it was recommended by my daughter as a good read. She was right. I loved it. If you like romance without being raunchy, You'll love it. It does have some sexual content but it is not bad...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Highly recommened

    Awesome book loved it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic Book!

    This book took an entirely different turn at the very end. A real tear jerker. I will look for more books by this author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Jane's Melody by Ryan Winfield

    Jane's Melody was sweet, a little sad and sometimes funny. Jane McKinney is forty years old and has recently lost her daughter to drug abuse. Devastated and trying to search for any clues or details about her estranged daughter's life, Jane comes across a mysterious musician named Caleb Cumming.

    As the two become involved, Jane struggles with the issue of the age difference, since Caleb is fifteen years her junior. She is also dealing with the pain and guilt over losing her daughter.

    Was the romance cheesy at times, even a little overly dramatic? Sure. Did I care? Not one bit. I enjoyed this one and I was curious to see what would happen to these two. The love scenes were also nicely written. I'm harder on male authors when they write female leads, but I think Ryan Winfield did a great job at capturing Jane's voice and at making her a relatable character.
    There is also Jane's best friend in the mix and I found this part of the story to be endearing.

    ...And I am a sucker for a hero who can openly cry. Oh Caleb.
    He fell forward onto the empty cushion and buried his head in his arms and sobbed. She stood over him for one terrible moment, looking down. He was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen...
    p.178, ebook version of Jane's Melody by Ryan Winfield

    The story ended nicely but it also leaves room for a sequel. The second in this series, Jane's Harmony, is due out soon. I can totally see myself reading this one this summer, preferably by the lake on a lazy afternoon. I'm curious as to what comes next.

    I have to recommend Jane's Melody to fans of contemporary romance and fans of unlikely romances. This is an easy, quick read.

    disclaimer:
    This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Jane's Melody by Ryan Winfield.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2014

    As a mother, I can comprehend the absolute horror of losing a ch

    As a mother, I can comprehend the absolute horror of losing a child. What I cannot comprehend is surviving it. In Jane's Melody, we have a mother, Jane, at her daughter's grave site the day after her funeral. As Jane sits in her car and mourns her daughter, she sees a man at Melody's grave, standing in the rain. The man leaves a coin there, then disappears. Her daughter Melody (hence the title) had a history of addiction and substance abuse, and the two had grown distant. Jane is desperate to understand her daughter's last day, and sensing this man may have answers, she seeks him out.

    The man, Caleb Cummings, refuses to answer Jane's questions about Melody. Caleb's sad eyes and troubling situation-he's a homeless musician-has Jane wanting to help him. She offers him a job, in exchange for renovating her overgrown property, she will help him make it to Austin, where he hopes to get his music career going. She also hopes that Caleb will eventually open up about Melody.

    Now, you might be thinking, a grieving mother goes after her daughter's guy only days after her death? I'll admit, that thought crossed my path as well. Jane's Melody is not that story; it's not designed to have a morally questionable feel, to have you tied in knots over whether Jane should become involved with Caleb. Assumptions regarding Melody and Caleb aren't as clear-cut as they seem. Jane's Melody is very much a love story, a thoughtful, beautiful story at that, and I never questioned whether these two belonged together, despite the difference in age and lifestyle, their tragic start.

    To be honest, though, I was in tears within the first few pages. Given the story, I'm sure that's no surprise. Jane's pain was given such an acute description to the instances of unbearable pain that a mother carries after a child's death. Her thoughts ones that I would imagine in my mind in the same circumstances. But, Jane's Melody is also a joyful story. The joy in life's sweet moments, in fond memories of a daughter before the demons took over, the joy in finding a love in the most unlikely arms. As Caleb renovates the land, Jane's heart undergoes a similar transformation. It was a gorgeous story that had a heavy impact on me. The ending left me smiling and satisfied. I'm so anxious (and a little nervous!) for Jane's Harmony.



    Favorite Quote

    "Everything I liked about her, I love in you." Jane felt a funny kind of confused, an excitement wrestling with disappointment and grief. "What are you saying?" "I'm saying ever since I saw you I've been attracted to you, Jane. I think about you all the time. Every night. I lay here in this bed at night and wonder if you're awake down the hall. I can't get you out of my head, and I don't even want to."

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