A Love Beyond Words tells the story of two strong people with different ideas of life struggling to find a way to live with each other after they fall in love. The fact that one of them has a disability adds depth to their tale, but is not what causes their conflict.
Allie Matthews finds herself trapped under the rubble of her Miami house after a hurricane blows through. Her leg is caught under a beam, it is very dark, and she can hear nothing because she has been deaf since she was nineteen. Enrique "Ricky" Wilder, a member of a special disaster rescue unit, comes to her aid. He is impressed by how calm and collected she is despite the pain and the fear she must feel. Unlike his usual behavior, he goes to visit her in the hospital. He discovers that her doctors won't let her leave until she has someplace to stay and someone to help her for a few days. Ricky even surprises himself when he talks her into staying with him.
Ricky is not known for dating any woman for more than a few times. His loving but meddlesome four older sisters are all married and they agree with their mother that he needs to settle down. He is devoted to his family, but knows that having Allie in his house is going to cause speculation.
Allie is very independent and does not want to be a burden to anyone, but Ricky is persuasive and her other choice is to stay in the hospital, a place she truly hates. She is determined to be back on her own and back to work as soon as possible. Her stay with Ricky, however, allows each of them to discover how very attracted they are to each other.
Sherryl Woods has created a special heroine in Allie Matthews. She had been an accomplished musician before an infection caused her deafness. After surviving the devastation of her loss, she throws her considerable energy into learning to communicate with the world all over again and turns her misfortune into a career as a teacher of the deaf. When her fear of Ricky's
profession nearly sinks her relationship with him, she fights her concerns with courage.
Ricky is one of those guys who attracts women at every turn and dates a good many of them, but you also know that those women still like him after he breaks it off. His support of Allie is very like the support he would give to any member of his wonderful family. He never treats Allie as handicapped nor does he see her that way.
A side story involves Ricky's divorced partner, Tom. Nikki, who still loves Tom, had left when he refused to leave his job for something less dangerous. Nikki's attitudes and opinions influence Allie's opinion of Ricky's job and create much of the tension between Ricky and Allie.
Sherryl Woods deftty includes information about people who are deaf without sounding like a textbook. Her explanation of why Allie can speak clearly while her boss and one of her young students cannot is concise and fits into the storyline. There is even a small side story of a recently deaf child whose parents just don't know how to handle their daughter's new life
until the light finally turns on for the father.
A Love Beyond Words is that wonderful combination of a strong heroine and a strong, fun-loving hero. Sherryl Woods does it well. I only wish all of Ricky's sisters weren't married so that there could be more stories from this family.
--B. Kathy Leitle