March has arrived with glorious gifts. First, everywhere I look I see harbingers of spring—sunny daffodils on the lawn, wild plum trees in the woods, golden forsythia edging the road, purple carpets of thrift on a neighbor’s hill, and the lacey loveliness of Bradford pear trees in bloom all over town. These are the first notes in what will soon be a grand symphony of springtime. I already have spring fever, that giddy, dreamy feeling that fills me with hope and happiness. We’ve already had days of sunshine and 70s temps here, and I’ve been writing in a rocker on the porch, on a bench in the yard, and at a picnic table by the river.
This March has been generous in gifting reading treasures as well. Not only do I have new romance novels by favorites such as Jo Beverley (An Unlikely Countess), Julie James (A Lot Like Love), and Janice Kay Johnson (Bone Deep) on my TBR shelf, but I’m also looking forward to adding new novels by favorite authors in other genres: Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney (Mary Jo Putney's first YA novel), The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde, A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear, Summer of Love by Katie Fforde, Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn, Friday’s Daughter by Patricia Sprinkle, and even a work of nonfiction, Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll.
Then there are my first two March reads, both with true March connections.
The first, Bridge to Happiness, by Jill Barnett (Bell Bridge ebook, December 2010), features a protagonist named March. It’s women fiction rather than romance, but it has two love stories. March and Mike Cantrell marry young, build a successful business together, rear four children (the youngest on the cusp of adulthood as the story opens), and enjoy three decades of life together. But March’s near perfect life comes to an abrupt end one night when Mike is killed in an automobile accident. What follows is the story of March’s journey through grief and emotional pain back to life on the other side of devastation where another man teaches her heart to love again.
My second March read was authored by a March—Emily March, a new pseudonym for a long-time favorite writer, Geralyn Dawson. Angel’s Rest (Ballantine, February 2010) is the first book in March’s Eternity Springs series. As the first book in the series, Angel’s Rest introduces a fascinating cast of characters and the setting, a tiny town in the Colorado Rockies with a long history as a healing place. Gabriel Callahan needs healing more than most. He has already lost two lives, one in a Sarajevo prison where he was declared dead and given a new identity and another when his wife and son were killed in an automobile accident. Gabe has reached the point where life no longer seems worth enduring when he rescues a dog he refuses to name and meets a woman, vet Nicole Sullivan, whose warmth and compassion Gabe fights hard to resist. Since this one is romance, we know that’s one fight he loses.
Reading these books seriously depleted my Kleenex supply, but they also evoked smiles and sighs of readerly satisfaction. Although both of these books are about losses that nearly destroy the characters, they are ultimately life affirming books. The thing I liked best about March’s and Gabe’s stories is that their journeys are from happiness through darkness to a new happiness that does not negate or minimize the joy they knew in their earlier lives. Moving on does not mean forgetting the experiences that have shaped these characters into the people they are.
March’s and Gabe’s pain may resonate deepest with those who have fought their own battles with soul-shattering grief, but any reader can empathize with these characters and rejoice with them as love in many guises helps them heal and build a bridge across the abyss of grief to a life renewed with happiness and love. I loved both books and found them particularly appropriate reading for a season of rebirth and renewal. I’m thrilled that both these authors are publishing new books. Jill Barnett has a Medieval trilogy coming soon, and Emily March has two more books in the Eternity Springs series being released this spring—Hummingbird Lake on March 22 and Heartache Falls on April 26. I’m saving space for them all on the TBR shelf.
Has spring tiptoed into your world yet? What are you reading this March?
Donna is the Randomizer's choice to receive the This Kiss giveaway. Donna, please email me your contact info, and I'll send your book to you ASAP.