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Monday, October 12, 2009

When You Went Away by Michael Baron

When You Went Away by Michael Baron
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (340 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Only a few months ago, Gerry Rubato had everything he thought he needed from life. He was passionately in love with his college sweetheart after nearly twenty years of marriage, he had a bright, independent-minded daughter, and he had the surprising addition of a new child on the way. Then everything changed with stunning rapidity. With little explanation, his daughter ran away with her older boyfriend. Then, only a month after giving birth to their son, his wife died suddenly.

Now, Gerry needs to be everything to his infant child while he contends with two losses he can barely comprehend. And when a woman walks into his life as a friend and their relationship verges on something more, Gerry must redefine all that he knows about himself, about love, about loyalty, and about his dreams.

He had wrapped his whole world around Maureen, now she is gone.

The poignancy of the sorrow Gerry Rubato feels after the death of his wife, the joy he feels with his baby son Reese, the unrelenting need to find his runaway daughter, and the guilt he feels for desiring another woman so soon after his wife’s death is so real, the reader’s heart aches for him. He has defined himself by Maureen and Tanya, his wife and daughter. Now, they are both gone and he is not sure who he is.

Gerry is a hero--but not the macho, alpha-male type. With Maureen, he had been the steadfast, dependable companion, confidante, friend, and lover. When Ally comes into his life, his guilt about wanting to be with her so soon after Maureen’s death makes him act out of character, but the reader never loses sight of the “real” Gerry. How he relates to baby Reese and the heartfelt entries in the journal he writes for Tanya reveal a love that is solid as a rock—a love to be depended on.

When Ally insinuates herself into his life, he likes her, but he tries to keep her at a distance. However, she gives him a reprieve from grief and the look in her eyes makes him feel safe with her.

WHEN YOU WENT AWAY is written in first person—SO perfect for this type of love story. The reader sees everything from Gerry’s point of view. The immediacy of his emotions and actions creates a tie that gives the reader a vicarious experience about how one survives after the premature death of a mate and endures all the ensuing demands of life as it moves on in spite of the incredible emotional pain.

Michael Baron’s writing style, so smooth and unobtrusive, moves the story along in a compelling way. The well-developed characters seem alive and real. Baby Reese is a shining light in the story. Gerry says Reese is the one unequivocal joy in his life; he is good company; he is becoming his own person. Baron creates characters the reader can empathize with as if they were friends or neighbors. The reader can feel the cry for acceptance when Tanya writes, “Try to be happy for me. T”. He also touches on some soul-searching issues that touch most people’s lives at one time or the other—issues about grief and surviving after a tragedy.

Michael Baron is an author name I will look for in the future.