Marilyn Tyner's fifth novel is a literary merger, of sorts. Tyner's 1997 debut novel Step by Step and her 1999 romance False Impressions are unrelated stories. However, the author has taken a secondary character from each book to create an engaging secondary romance.
Caroline Duval is the younger sister of Jason Duval of Step by Step As a college student in Atlanta, she had an intense relationship with Derek Roberts, brother of False Impressionsí hero, Ian Roberts. As a result of two extremely big (and still unresolved) misunderstandings, Caroline and Derek broke up before graduation.
Everything to Gain begins six years later. Caroline is a teacher living in Connecticut. Derek still works with his brother in Atlanta as a computer security specialist. Derek is in Hartford on business. He encounters Caroline in a restaurant and witnesses her break up with her current beau. It is the first time they have seen each other since their college days.
Although the restaurant scene brings back painful memories for him, Derek offers Caroline a ride when he discovers she has no way home. Stranded, she reluctantly accepts. On the journey home, Derek goes from silent to churlish. For her part, Caroline cannot understand his attitude because she feels she has been the wronged party. The two part again without ever discussing their breakup.
Several months later, Caroline is in Atlanta visiting an old college friend. At her friend's urging, she has also agreed to serve as volunteer tutor in a community center during the summer. The law of coincidence prevails and Derek and Caroline find themselves in situations where their paths will cross during the entire summer.
Marilyn Tyner has created an engaging story about two people forced apart by pride and the malevolence of others. The chemistry between the two main characters is strong and believable. The author paces their reconciliation well and wisely does not drag out the misunderstandings between them. Still both have misgivings, but Derek is patient and has learned from his mistakes.
Caroline is also wary, with good reason. However, I found her momentary lapse near the end of the novel unsettling.
Secondary characters offer support to the main characters without getting in the way. It is good to revisit Ian and Zoe Roberts, Grace and Harry Duval and Jason and Leah Duval. Caroline is a feisty heroine who is a perfect sidekick for Zoe and her daughter, Savannah. That is good because this is as much a continuation of Zoe and Ian's story as it is Caroline and Derek's. And,
while Everything to Gain is a stand-alone novel, I recommend reading False Impressions first since the author uses this novel to tie up a few of the loose ends in the earlier novel. I strongly recommend Step by Step because it remains my favorite Tyner romance!
Marilyn Tyner has created an interesting story about two everyday people. You won't find a lot of the razzle dazzle in other romances. It=s a simple, straightforward read that=s worth a look.
TRR has also reviewed:
Secrets of the Heart