Read with: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #2126
Hero: Rhys Wolfe
Heroine: Mariah Kelly
Date of Publication: August 1, 2000
Started On: December 15, 2010
Finished On: December 16, 2010
I first discovered Anne McAllister years ago when I read her Harlequin novel Fletcher’s Baby. That was the time during which I had just discovered the amazing abundance of romance novels that Harlequin provides for voracious readers and Fletcher’s Baby was one of those reads that you remember even after a long time. The impact the story has on the senses (not because of any explicit or otherwise sexual content in the story) but rather because of the emotional wrangling content of the book, even my elder sister who has never been much of a fan of romances read and liked the story that unfolded. The dogeared copy of Fletcher’s Baby on our bookshelf is a testament to how well liked the story is. Even though this is a review of Rhys’s Redemption, my second book from Anne McAllister, if you haven’t already read Fletcher’s Baby, I highly advise you to do so. It is a great book for a good cry!
Rhys Wolfe is a man haunted by memories of the tragic death of his childhood love and wife Sarah and their unborn 4 month old baby. Born and raised in New York, Rhys had tried hard to please his family by going into the family business. Working long hours had kept him away from his pregnant wife and the fire that had taken away his Sarah eight years back haunts him even to this day. Yes, Rhys has moved on to the best of his ability, quit his job at the firm which had pissed off his father, and taken a job in a specialized unit of firefighting that deals with oil well and rig fires. And it is an extremely commitment phobic Rhys that emerges from the tragedy of losing his beloved who has no intention whatsoever of getting married or having children ever again. His one steadfast rule, one he had made up as an act of self preservation was to sleep only with women who knew exactly what they were getting into – that is until he breaks his rule during the night he turns to comfort in the arms of Mariah, his friend and neighbor for the past 3 years.
31 year old Mariah Kelly comes from a large family from Kansas. She had been a small town girl with a determination to make it in the big city world in the field of journalism when she had first moved to New York 8 years back and was quite comfortable with her achievements. Mariah first meets Rhys during a cookout she holds on her terrace by inviting all her neighbors, and over time within Rhys Mariah finds all the qualities she had ever wanted to find in a man. And regardless of telling herself that falling for a man who has his heart locked away and the key thrown away into the dungeons, Mariah finds herself doing just exactly that – falling head over heels in love with the wrong man. When the one night of intense passion they share ends up in Mariah getting pregnant, Mariah hopes against hope that Rhys would come around and start to care for her and love her as much as she does for him.
When Rhys wakes up with a warm and sleeping Mariah in his arms, all his survival instincts kick in and he does the only thing he knows how to save his battered emotions. Two months without a word and Rhys returns home after an intense job planning all the while in his head how he and Mariah would move on and forget about the night that changed everything only to receive the bombshell that Mariah is pregnant with his child. Betrayal, pain and anger all course through Rhys when he first hears the news and the only thing Rhys is willing to offer Mariah is financial support and nothing more. Avoiding Mariah at all costs is what Rhys sets out to do, but Mariah makes it damn hard for him to do just that when she refuses to condemn him for his actions, calmly accepting what Rhys is able to give and never asking for more. But staying away and just completely wiping away Mariah from his mind seems to be an impossible task for Rhys which eventually makes for a really heart wrenching read.
1- Mariah Kelly. I loved her for so many things as this story unfolded. Her unchanging love for a man who has immersed himself so deeply in his gut wrenching pain over the loss of the only woman he has ever loved, a love that doesn’t turn into resentment because Rhys is unwilling to give her his everything once he learns of her pregnancy. I loved her because she doesn’t turn bitter, nor does she hold it against Rhys that he is selfish enough to want to protect his heart from being broken to pieces all over again. Her courage, unwavering love and hope that Rhys would turn around makes her one of the most endearing heroines I have come across.
2- The magic that this story weaves as it is told from both Rhys and Mariah’s viewpoints. There is so much emotion packed into it that the lump that applied for permanent residency in my throat refused to fade away even long after the story was through. Even though I cannot afford to pull an all-nighter reading a book these days, I couldn’t bring myself to part with the story and get my much needed sleep before work today. And thank God for the fact that this one is not a long novel or otherwise I would have found myself in a whole lot of trouble reporting to work all bleary-eyed today. ^_^
3- How this book made me all teary-eyed – in a good way. Honestly, I am not one to cry and bawl over a story, well most of the time anyway. But last night, I found myself with tears in my eyes as I reached towards the end, tears of frustration at times on Rhys’s stubbornness in refusing to let go of Sarah, tears of sorrow for Mariah who loves Rhys quietly all along and in the end, tears of happiness for the happily ever after.
4- This story definitely whetted my appetite to read Dominic’s story, the calm and controlled older brother of Rhys, and Sierra the younger sister of Mariah and her exact opposite in every way. That book is definitely going to end up in my wish list!
Dislikes: Though I loved this story to bits, I found myself at times a bit disappointed because Rhys and Mariah spends so much time apart from one another in the story. But in the end it all works out because this story ends up being different to your usual Harlequin pregnancy romances such that the hero doesn’t find himself just a changed man overnight, but rather takes the long road to find himself taking the second chance he has been offered at loving and being loved once again. But I would have loved a bit more interaction between Rhys and Mariah, just a tad more.
Every night there were dreams. Dreams of Sarah. Collages of their life together – happy childhood moments, the joy of their engagement, the bliss of their wedding day. There were a hundred moments – a thousand memories – all coming to wash over him the second he shut his eyes and gave in to slumber.
And they made him ache with longing. And he awoke sad and desperate – reaching for something – for someone – who slipped further and further away.
Those were bad. Worse, though, were his dreams of Mariah. In them he saw her laughing and smiling, joyful and tender. Her eyes watched him, her hands touched him. And in his dreams he responded. His body grew ready for hers. His heart grew hungry for hers. his arms lifted to reach out to her.
And then he would see Sarah again. Drifting just out of reach.
Then, always, he woke up. Alone.
1- Fans of Anne McAllister.
2- Fans of Harlequin romances with enough emotion packed into it to knock your socks off. If you want a high dosage of sensuality in your romances, you are not going to find it here. But it can make you cry from deep within your heart.
Rating from the sunny side of life:
Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!
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