A Fallen Star by Janie Summers

STAR
A Fallen Star by Janie Summers
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When it comes to both love and mountaineering, one wrong move can be fatal…

Even before she arrived at Invergarth Outdoor Pursuits Centre on the west coast of Scotland, Holly knew she’d made the wrong decision. She should never have allowed her uncle to persuade her to return to the tough, sometimes brutal world of mountaineering.

Her devastatingly handsome boss, Torquil Sinclair, shares Holly’s opinion completely. In fact, he seems determined to make her new job unbearable. As his assistant, Holly understood that she wouldn’t be expected to participate in the more hazardous activities, and could concentrate on re-establishing her neglected photographic skills.

But even her uncle cannot protect Holly from the truth—about the past, herself and Torquil. A truth Holly would never willingly have faced, if Torquil had not forced her to…

A flat tire puts a decided crimp in Holly Towers’ plans. With dusk falling in the Scottish Highlands she sets out to walk to the nearest town. A few miles down the road she finally is met by a stranger in a Land Rover who ends up helping to change her tire. Finding her random guardian is actually her soon-to-be-boss, Torquil Sinclair sets her heart racing. After the loss of her husband, Adam, two years ago Holly has fiercely protected her heart. But there’s something about Torquil that gets under her skin and sets her pulse racing.

I really enjoyed this book. While seeming very simple in some respects, I was delighted to find that the plot goes quite a lot deeper than I expected. At a first glance, one can be forgiven for thinking this is a simple story about a widow letting go of her grief and finding love again, opening herself back up to life and living instead of wasting away with her dead husband. But this story is so much more than that. I love the added complexity of Torquil and his situation. Having been the only member of the party to turn down his spot—which was then taken by Holly’s husband which resulted in his death—Torquil has his own bag of issues. Even though no one was to blame for the tragic accident that killed Adam, as Torquil initially was supposed to be in his place, he feels a weight of guilt. I found this added another, more uncommon and quite interesting, turn of events for the progression of the plot.

At first I struggled with how Holly came to be in this position. While it’s explained she’s taken this job as a favor to her godfather, many of her thoughts seem to negate this statement, and that confused me. Still clearly grieving, she herself admits she has avoided everything to do with mountaineering and the people in that circle. Yet this is exactly what she has stepped back into by taking this job with Torquil. In a similar vein, we’re told Holly has no interest in other men and has been protecting her heart and keeping her distance from others—yet on her first meeting with Torquil she notices the line of his jaw, how big and broad his shoulders are and such things. It’s not like she jumped on him or offered herself, but I found it confusing how we’d be told one thing, then actions or thoughts would show something very different. It made the story harder for me to follow and I had to stop a lot in the beginning and go back and reread to make certain I hadn’t missed something.

Having said all that, this is a heartwarming story that goes much deeper than many similar novels. Holly and Torquil are both complex, interesting characters and I was eager to continue reading to see more of their interactions. The plot kept me turning the pages and was not a simple, linear thing, but a wonderfully convoluted and different story line. I found this a great story to settle down and enjoy with a steaming hot tea or hot chocolate. Recommended.

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