Half Past Mourning by Fleeta Cunningham
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Length: Full Length (312 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia
An hour after her wedding, Nina's new husband and his '55 Thunderbird disappear, and the search for him is inconclusive, leaving her married but alone with no answers as to what happened. Waiting for word from him, wondering where he is, she has no real future until she spies his car in a parking lot and starts asking questions.
When Professor Peter Shayne uncovers a driver's license concealed in the trunk of the T-Bird he's just purchased, he tracks down Nina for more information. As they follow clues together, Peter finds himself attracted to this woman, but what if they locate her husband? How can he declare his love for her if she's still married?
Torn and confused by the unfolding secrets of the boy she loved and married, Nina doubts she can trust her growing feelings for Peter. She must discover her husband's whereabouts, even if the truth hurts.
Living in limbo can sap a person’s courage and destroy dreams—a truth Nina Kirkland comes to realize more every day. However, a canary yellow T-Bird she would know anywhere brings back memories and hurt. It also sparks an old need to compete, plus it brings Dr. Peter Shayne PhD front and center in her life.
Twenty-four-year-old Nina, true to her vows and promises, looks at no man as a possible romantic partner. She's a wedded woman without a wedding night and has been for two years. The romance and love part of her life is on hold. However, the caring, precious, patient love that gently wraps around her like a magic mist rejuvenates her courage and gives her hope. More than that, it gives her a companion that loves her ‘little-girl-tomboy’ side that shows as she relates to her fourth graders, the competitive car racer side and the compassionate, caring sides that shows with her uncle, friends, and young students.
Dr. Peter Shayne is comfortable in his own skin—ah, what a hero! He does not kiss another man’s wife, neither does he walk away from the married Nina who touches that place in his heart that’s never been touched before—he bides his time. He offers support and help and lets a deep all encompassing love grow strong enough to give Nina the courage to trust her judgment again after having her faith in herself badly shaken. He's not at all affronted when pretty little Nina tells him she can win the gymkhana with his T-Bird but he cannot. He even wants her to teach him so he can win at a later time. Can you believe!
The secondary characters are background to showcase the hero and heroine. However, many of them have very realistic personalities. Nina’s uncle Eldon Lassiter, even though in a wheelchair, is a busy man yet helps others along the way, but most of all he's Nina’s solid-as-a-rock family. Marigold, the mother-in-law, more or less falls in the ‘ witch’ category—my goodness, how Nina survives her is a miracle. The never-present husband Danny Wilson, while not bodily present, is very much a part of the plot. His absence is wrapped in mystery and in times brings on suspense before the truth comes out.
The humor and joy Sinbad the cat and Princess the 1924 antique Isotta exotic touring car add give that special little flavor that makes Half Past Mourning even more delightful to read.
Fleeta Cunningham slips in mores, styles, and pastimes of the 1950s era as she lets the reader share time with the characters as they work to make sense of their lives. Her subtle, understated writing style moves along smooth as silk and slips the reader into a sparkling, enjoyable vicarious experience.