The Time of Her Life

Jeanie London
December 2012, Series Romance
Harlequin SR #1819, $5.50, 288 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373718195

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Warm

The summary of the book doesnít disclose that the heroineís new position is as the administrator of a living facility for Alzheimerís patients. Even though I had a family member with that disease, that didnít decrease my interest in reading this book. Jeanie London won a place on my auto buy list with The Husband Lesson but my enjoyment of that book didnít translate to enjoyment for this one, even with the connection between the two.

Susanna Adam's life went off course after her beloved husband died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It took everything she had to hold it together, but she had the best motivation Ė her two valiant children. Now they are off at college, and she realizes that itís time for her to move forward too. It is difficult to let go of the family home, with so many memories, but that money is needed for her childrenís education and leaving it is part of her new beginning. She is excited about helping with the transition of the privately owned A-list memory care facility, The Arbors, to Northstar Management Company. The present owner, Jay Canady, laid down some very specific conditions for the sale. If everything goes well, meaning Jay is satisfied that the quality of care is not detrimentally affected by the change, then in six month the final paperwork will be signed. Susannaís position has her answering to two bosses. She must placate Jay, and incorporate her companyís budgetary and policy guidelines (no easy task), but she is up for the challenge.

Jay Canady is having a difficult time with his decision. The Arbors has always been a family concern. His grandmother instigated building the facility after caring for her mother. Not satisfied with just providing food and shelter, she wanted to provide quality of life and be on the cutting edge of research. Later his mother would benefit from her own motherís knowledge and care.

The work load was manageable when it was a family affair but after the death of his grandparents and parents, the oppressive responsibility overwhelmed all aspects of Jay's life. His social life dwindled to nothing and any free time he does have is spent maintaining the familyís antebellum home. He is afraid that if he doesnít get away now, he will wake up one morning and find that life has passed him by. He is not convinced that selling to Northstar is the right decision but he desperately wants it to be, because that means that in six monthsí time he will be free to live his own life. But he canít abdicate without first seeing to the welfare of his seniors and employees.

Both Susanna and Jay havenít had a significant relationship in a long while but there is more than propinquity at work. But neither feels it is appropriate to blur the lines of their profession association.

While I admire Ms. Londonís willingness to shine the light on a distressing disease, the story didnít quite work for me. The characters are likeable and admirable Ė but almost too perfect.

The pacing is slow since very little happens. Of course that is a problem that authors have to deal with when the conflict is internal. And Jayís internal conflict is simplistic. I got impatient and tired of his conundrum, since the solution seemed so obvious - hire some additional help rather than throw the baby out with the bath water. And the roadblocks that he put up against cost cutting measures seemed very unrealistic in todayís environment. The perfection of The Arbors was distracting too. I know the general cost of care, and every time they talked about all that they did I immediately imagine this place as only for the wealthy. And while the ending is sweet, it seems like a poor solution especially with all the upcoming changes to both their lives.

Both Jay and Suzanne are like Rip Van Winkle in that they both have been in sleep state as far as relationship and love. Now they are just alert to new possibilities. Surprisingly I thought each needs to go off and live a little Ė do something crazy before falling in love, and then getting tied down.

The story also has one of my least favorite plot devices Ė younger man and older woman. However, I was pleased that age really wasnít a big part of the conflict.

I have listed a lot of things that bothered me but please donít think this is a bad book. These issues didnít jump out at me. But overall these minor things contributed to my general dissatisfaction.

Ms. Londonís talents as a writer are clearly illuminated in this book, it just that that the story didnít work for me.

-- Leigh Davis

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