The Captive's Heart

Harrigan's Bride

The Long Way Home

 
The Older Woman by Cheryl Reavis
(Silh. Sp. Ed.#1445, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24445-2
*****
It isn’t often I sit down to read a book and cannot walk away from it. It isn’t often I finish a book and then have it pop into my head the next day. The Older Woman by Cheryl Reavis is one of those rare books.

The primary focus of the book is the male lead. He is the narrator, which is a little unique. Captain Cal Doyle, Army Paratrooper, is recovering from a horrifying and almost deadly helicopter crash. After 11 surgeries, he is hobbling and often in pain. He is living in an upstairs apartment over a sweet lady named Mrs. Bee, who is the grandmotherly type. She fulfills his need to protect and look out for someone, and he fulfills her need to have someone to cook for and watch over. Cal is also recovering from the loss of his two best buddies in the crash, and his best friend Rita, who just got married.

Next-door neighbor Kate Meehan, a nurse on the ward where Cal was recuperating, found him the apartment. Kate is a breast cancer survivor and is 10 years Cal’s senior…42 to his 32. She is not everyman’s dream, but she is tall, attractive and caring. She is also the “caretaker” sister in a family of four sisters. And her insensitive boyfriend has just dumped her when he found out about the breast cancer.

Mrs. Bee convinces Cal to help Kate, since she is sitting in the rain, apparently in shock over this boyfriend’s defection. Mrs. Bee and Cal know this, because like any good neighbors, they were watching the scene unfold out their window. Cal gets involved and then Kate gets involved and pretty soon we have a nifty romance going.

The details are the story…and I hate to ruin this story for anyone. Suffice it to say, there is plenty of action…Cal’s continuing pain, Kate’s concern about appearances because of their ages, Kate’s sisters meddling and Mrs. Bee’s kindly advice all add up to a great story. Oh, and some great seduction and sex make this a great romance, too.

One of the things that sets this apart from other stories is the reality of the pain that Cal experiences. It is rare that a hero can be macho and still be in real pain…his vulnerability and willingness to sometimes say, “it’s too much” is one of the most endearing qualities that Cal possesses.

I also identified with Kate’s concerns about Cal’s feelings being real or just being convenient. Kate is a compelling character because she too is strong when she has to be -- when she is working and when her sisters need her. But she is vulnerable when confronted with the growing feelings between she and Cal, due in part to the boyfriend and another failed romance in her youth.

I loved this book despite the somewhat disheartening situations the two characters experience. It is not written in a happy go lucky style, like many category romances. With Cal’s injuries and Kate’s vulnerability, I truly felt I was right in the middle of a major drama and I struggled through the obstacles confronting these two people right along with them.

Yet it is their conquering of these obstacles that is the real story. The thing that sticks with me is their triumphs…Cal surviving inquisitions from 3 concerned sisters, Mrs. Bee’s church-lady friends convincing Cal to purchase them a Playboy magazine, Kate sharing her stories with Cal so he understands her and Kate’s nephew showing off his rock collection to Cal. These things made me laugh, and even cry.

Compelling. Riveting. Romantic. These words come to my mind when I think of The Older Woman. And they do keep coming to my mind.

--Shirley Lyons


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