Journey of the Heart

A Motherís Reflection
by Elissa Ambrose
(Silh. Spec. Edit. # 1578, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24578-5
Emotions are at the heart of A Motherís Reflection. It is a sentimental tale full of love, lust, anger, hate, confusion, angst, irony, and laughter. There are many shades of relationships from that of a mother-daughter, to a mother-son, to a man and a woman. At times, it is a bit on the sappy side, but is generally a nice poignant story.

Thirteen years ago, Rachel Cunningham gave up a baby for adoption. She was young and unmarried. Her parents kicked her out and she had no choice but to give her child a real chance at life. But she never forgot her, and always wondered where and who she was. She married, and divorced. She even attempted to go through channels to find her daughter, but was told the adoptive father wanted no contact. But last year, she dreamed her daughter needed her. So Rachel (now Hartwell) hired a private investigator and found her daughter living in Middlewood, CT where her mother had grown up.

Rachel decides to move to Middlewood and hire on at the new Community Center there. Her plan is to get to know her daughter and then announce who she is, hoping to maintain the relationship once she had established some trust. This was such faulty thinking that I had to move past it to enjoy the rest of the story.

The manager of the Center is none other than Adam Wessler, the adoptive father of Rachelís daughter Megan. Adam is raising Megan following the tragic accident that killed his wife, Beth. Megan is missing her mother and as she enters her teenage years is rebelling. She argues with her dad, she is leaving her room late at night and refusing to tell him where she is going. When some minor robberies are discovered Adam becomes worried that Megan might be involved, but she just shuts him out.

Megan starts off being a brat with a capital B Ė but she slowly comes around as she learns to like, trust and develop a relationship with Rachel. Her turnaround was only somewhat believable. Meanwhile, Rachel is developing a relationship with Adam. They hit it off immediately, but both deny the attraction. It was well into the story before they succumb to the lust and at that point, they are both starting to have other feelings.

Complications abound however. All this relationship building occurred around the backdrop of the community center and its new theater. Rachel is hired to be a drama coach for the play Annie. Of course, her first interaction with her daughter is one where she convinces Megan to play a lesser role than the star Ė something no one else has been able to do successfully. This was a little too pat for complete comfort.

Then there is the jealous friend of Adamís, who wants to be more than just a friend and who also happens to work at the community center. She is not a nice lady Ė wanting to send Megan to a drama school in New York and Adamís mother to a nursing home to get them out of the way. Grandma Evelyn is suffering from Alzheimerís and was a good friend of Rachelís mother.

Evelynís illness and how Adam handles the situations make up a large section of the story. While sincere and sensitively written, it does distract from the sense of romance. Adam admits to having blinders on and doesnít see her deterioration. I felt sorry for Evelyn and even sorrier for those who had to care for her. Adam is a bit of a hard head and I found it hard to feel sympathy for him.

The biggest obstacle to romance, however, is Rachelís big secret. I struggled at times with her choices. I find it hard to embrace a romance when there is so little trust. Even once she realized she loved him, she screwed things up due to her fear of his reaction. Adam is not the most fun loving guy either. He spends most of his time lamenting either the struggles of the center, the difficulty in raising Megan or the loss of his wife. He is a sexy man with all the right moves and banter one would hope for from a hero. But he seems to have an innate sense of mistrust, so I never fully warmed to him.

The finale becomes the ďall is forgiven and letís live happily ever afterĒ kind of ending. It was a little too syrupy for my taste, but basically satisfying. A Motherís Reflection is one that can either be a great enjoyment (if you are looking for sentimental) or a great disappointment (if you are looking for pure romance). Or you may find it like I did Ė a middle of the road relationship story that is generally satisfactory.

--Shirley Lyons

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