Decisive Moments by Toni Noel

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Decisive Moments by Toni Noel
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

To satisfy the requirements for her Master’s Degree in fine art photography, Amy Millington needs to photograph architect Charles Harding’s childhood home, but his boarded-up house holds painful memories for Charles and he allows no one inside. Without those photographs Amy cannot secure her daughter Marta’s future, but he denies the gutsy widow’s request.

Amy notes his sadness and with Marta’s help, teaches Charles to again have fun. In doing so, he learns to appreciate her art and allows her inside his house. He still refuses to enter his house until the day Marta disappears inside and he discovers her in a forgotten wine cellar clutching his mother’s long-lost suicide note. Knowing the reason his mother shot his father, then turned the gun on herself, frees Charles from his past. Can he also free Amy from her painful past and teach her to love again?

Toni Noel’s novella, Decisive Moments, is a freshly original contemporary romance with utterly believable characters and an unpredictable plot.

Amy Millington is on a mission. She’s smart, quick-witted, thorough, and not about to let anyone disrupt her plans. In fact, she’s one of the most strong-willed characters one could imagine, and completely admirable.

The handsome but dour Charles Harding hardly seems likewise. He appears to be an obstacle in her plans – but perhaps, just perhaps, he has some small appreciation for Amy’s goals. They do share an interest in architecture; and secrets. Still, there are some ghosts that one cannot ignore, and Amy guesses as much about Charles.

Will her temerity be rewarded? I had doubts. Yet, like Amy, I had to believe she would find a way – but how? Ms. Noel builds both intrigue and a shadow of suspense into this very clever tale. Solving Amy’s challenge is important from the start…yet the romance, off to a slow start and almost a surprise, is no less important. In fact, the romance side of this is simply extraordinary; emotionally evocative yet in most scenes, subtle. This work would be worth reading if only for that.

Locations are simply wonderful, like the austere ‘Harding’ mansion. Yet, details of description are woven into text rather passively and this reader found herself wanting to zoom past, to impatiently get ‘back to the story.’ Good and bad: the descriptions tend to slow things up, but the plot is intriguing enough so you must stay with it.

A different and surprisingly moving romance. Do read.

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