After the Vows

Love Notes

 
Through the Storm by Leslie Esdaile
(Arabesque/BET, $6.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-288-6
****
Leslie Esdaile’s Through the Storm is a delightful second-chance romance.

Forster Hamilton, Jr. is a 42-year-old police forensic photographer. Divorced with two children, his mother lives with him. Lynette Graces is a 35-year-old newspaper reporter. She is divorced with no children. Her widowed mother came to live with her after she was displaced by a hurricane.

Besides being divorced and living with their mothers, Lynette and Forster have other things in common. Both make a living chronicling the remnants of other people’s lives and deaths. Both would like to use their talents with personal projects that would show uplifting views of human nature. Both are very lonely.

As fate would have it, both have best friends. Their friends are a couple and want to share their happiness. They have arranged a blind date for Lynette and Forster, who are mortified by the possibility. Mature professional adults are reduced to high school-era novices at the prospect of a “real date.” Apprehension fades as Lynette and Forster share a mutual physical attraction that soon is followed by curiosity and a desire to get to know each other better. Lynette calls it “getting to know a man from the inside out, first.”

Forster sums up the contemporary dating/mating scene as follows: “It used to be that boy met girl, boy asked girl out, they went to several places, they got to know each other and each other’s friends, then they hooked up. Then, somewhere in the eighties, or maybe it was the nineties, girl met boy, they hooked up, maybe if they were lucky, they got to know each other, and friends heard about it after it was on the rocks. Then, in the new millennium, girl or boy drag in children, baggage, and all sorts of drama around with them, have to wrangle for a little time alone, and either boy or girl or both have to try to hook up and get to know that person, and deal with their sideshow all at the same time.” That said, Lynette and Forster agree to take things slowly.

But their agreement takes a different turn when Lynette’s mother meets Forster and his daughters during a chance encounter. Her mother invites the Hamiltons over for an impromptu dinner. And, in a very humorous scene, Lynette learns Mother really does know best. The novel also gives an interesting look at how adult children interpret their parents’ lives and choices.

As in Leslie Esdaile’s best stories, real people maneuver their way through the intricacies of human relationships. There is the couple’s self-consciousness at being thrust back into the dating scene. Then, there are the questions of what to do about the parents, about the kids - and even about the friends. And, just as Forster and Lynette think they have all the bases covered, a mystery causes ripples in their relationship. It’s a temporary diversion Esdaile wisely places where it doesn’t detract from the main story of Forster and Lynette.

Through the Storm is about family, trust, patience and second chances. It’s worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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