However, Central Park Rendezvous is a collection of four stories which feature Bow Bridge as a lovers’ meeting place in Central Park, and some of the pictures I’ve seen as I work on scheduling the posts on Romancing America definitely tempt me. I hope you’ll click over and subscribe there to read posts and excerpts of each of the releases, as well as interviews with the authors.
Central Park Rendezvous is a combination of contemporary and historic stories in the Wolfe family. Not only that, but each of the four novellas deals with war heroes and the aftermath of various wars.
I read an advanced reader copy on my Kindle via NetGalley with the goal of reviewing it. I thought there was an error in the download when, at about 15% of the way in, I found myself starting the second novella when the first had not yet come to a conclusion. In a unique twist, the first novella is split into four sections woven around the other three stories as the contemporary characters discover letters from the past and delve into the Wolfe family heritage.
The novella that begins the collection and ties it all together is “Dream a Little Dream” by Ronie Kendig. Sean Wolfe has just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The main thing he learned in war–and his fiancée’s ‘Dear John’ letter–is that his mother was right: he is no good, and no one could love him. If no one could love him before, why now, when he’s disfigured from the war? Enter Jamie Russo, a woman who’s put off her own dreams in hopes of helping her beloved uncle find his. Neither Sean nor Jamie dares to dream. . .until they find an engraved coin and a packet of letters from the past that shed a whole new light on the Wolfe family, and the need to follow one’s dreams.
“A Love Meant to Be,” by Dineen Miller, is the second tale in the collection. Jamie’s uncle, Alan James, has spent nearly forty years hoping to find his true love, Gail Gibson, once again. They’d met the summer before he went off to Vietnam and fallen deeply in love, though Gail had been engaged to someone else at the time. She’d broken her engagement and promised to meet Alan on Bow Bridge on New Years Day, but she never showed up. Jamie takes matters into her own hands to find the elusive Gail, but can true love be re-ignited after all they’ve been through? ‘Love never fails’ is written on the coin, but is it true?
“To Sing Another Day” is the third novella, written by Kim Vogel Sawyer. The years preceding World War II have been rough for Helen Wolfe. Her parents both died in a trolley accident, leaving Helen to raise her younger siblings herself, though her fiancé thought she should put them in an orphanage and pursue her dreams of singing on stage with him. This caused the break in their relationship. Still, Helen can barely make ends meet and has to pawn the gold coin that’s been in the family since the Civil War. Pawn Shop owner Bernie O’Day wishes he could do more for lovely Helen than give her double the coin’s worth, but Helen is strong and stubborn. . .and resisting God’s work in her life. Bernie hires Helen’s younger brother, which gives him other ideas for how to help this family. But will Helen allow him to be her champion, giving her reason to sing again?
MaryLu Tyndall wrote the fourth novella, “Beauty from Ashes.” Permelia Shaw has spent the Civil War trying to hold the family’s tobacco plantation in Virginia together and coddling her sister Annie, who’s wedding to William Wolfe had been delayed due to the war. But now William is back, wounded, only to discover that Annie has been seeing other men in his absence–and that one of them claims to be her fiancé. He begins to see Annie as she truly is and wonders how he’d missed the dignity and beauty of her quiet sister Permelia. Annie refuses to choose between the two men who claim her hand, and Permelia won’t force William to choose. Which sister will meet William on Bow Bridge on New Years Day? Is it true that ‘Love never fails?’
What did I enjoy about these stories? I loved the strong ties that weave between them: the difficulties and wounds from the wars, the gold coin engraved with ‘Love never fails,’ and the pursuit of dreams, as well as the setting of Bow Bridge in Central Park. The most fun thing about the collection is the interweaving of Sean Wolfe and Jamie Russo’s story between the others, and seeing the impact learning his family history had on Sean. Besides, I tend to love contemporary stories best!
Please join us over at Romancing America starting on August first to read some of the background information on these stories. Comments over there will put your name in the hat to win a copy (USA only).
I received an e-copy of this collection for review from NetGalley. Opinions, as always, are mine alone.