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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Long Memory by Charlotte McClain

Long Memory by Charlotte McClain
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (68 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Poppy

Who makes memory?

Beth Wilson has been caring for Nonie Bennetti for years. She can see the end looming, but she doesn't expect it to arrive in the form of Nonie's grandson.

James is visiting his grandmother to hide from the publicity of a massive real estate scandal he revealed. While he's there, his mother decides it's a good time to audit Beth's handling of Nonie's finances. James wants to audit something else about Beth, but his mother is relentless. He's not hanging around anyway.

But Beth, and the small town his grandmother lives in, have a lot of appeal. Maybe it's time to stop moving around and start making some memories.

Welcome to a sweet story, populated with interesting, unique characters. Long Memory is, at its heart, just a story about love in many forms.

Beth Wilson, our heroine, is a good girl originally from the wrong side of the tracks (and people in small towns have long memories). She’s caring for Nonie and Jean, two women who are beginning to succumb to the ravages of age. Nonie’s memories are going; she shows all the signs of dementia, and Jean is mostly blind. Beth’s live revolves around caring for them, to the point where she’s begun giving up all the things she enjoys. She knows she won’t be able to do it forever, but doesn’t expect to have the job taken from her. She’s a very loving person, with one small problem: an explosive temper.

Enter James, Nonie’s grandson. He’s there to hide out from the press (he’s an accountant who uncovered a scam that cost many, many people their lives savings) and to do the bidding of his unpleasant, greedy mother who tells him Beth is stealing from Nonie and Jean. And here is where I had my biggest issue. James is basically a nice guy, but he really needed a spine. From the moment he arrives, it’s clear that his mother is lying. And since his mother has a history of being unkind and dishonest, I struggled with James’ inability to see the truth and to stand up to her. However, if he had, there would have been zero conflict in this story.

Truthfully, the story is pretty predictable, but what makes it worth reading are the secondary characters. This author's true skill lies not so much in plotting, but in creating a fictional world that feels real and is populated with interesting, fun characters. She has the whole small town nosiness down pat, and every character, from the most prominent to the least, is fully fleshed out and unique.

I really did enjoy the story, and happily read it from beginning to end in one sitting. Though I might have wanted to give James a good shake, I really liked him and could understand why Beth fell for him from the start. This story rates high on sheer entertainment. It’s sweet, fun and real.

With a great resolution to the conflict and a fun, believable ending, this story made me grin from start to finish. One good read.