Verdict: Despite a few flaws, this is a rather charming love story, which should appeal to incurable romantics in search of a pleasant diversion.
Sara’s Promise begins with an introduction to Sara, a loving wife to William and mother to Sam and Sandy, and a homemaker/artist whose only regret is not having time to finish a number of paintings that she’s started, because of the demands of her family.
William works long hours, Sam is pursuing a future in golf along with his education, and Sandy is a rebellious teenager with the usual rebellious teenage issues. But when Sara suddenly dies of a burst appendix, her soul cannot stand the possibility of leaving her family alone, so she makes a bargain with the Powers That Be, and convinces another soul to go back in her place. When that soul, Annie Paxton, meets William, they hit it off immediately, and the children accept her as a warm and caring part of their lives – but do they love her as herself, or because she is a reflection of Sara? Can her relationship with William survive the inevitable comparisons to Sara, and can she build a life with him on her own terms?
The story is sweet and caring, and the characters entirely sympathetic. The setting is beautiful – Seaside, Oregon is one of the most scenic places on the planet, and the author does a good job of illustrating its charm. The growing love between Annie and William is warmly demonstrated, and her developing bond with the children, in particular with Sandy, is believable even without her tie to their mother. The author deftly makes it clear that Sandy’s rebelliousness is driven by a deep-seated ache, and brings the reader into deep sympathy with her losses and struggles. Additionally, the author never makes the mistake of subsuming Annie’s personality completely into Sara’s, and it is always perfectly clear that she is her own woman, with her own mind, rather than a victim of possession.
The story does feel a bit artificially drawn-out – the conflict between William and Annie could, it seems to me, be resolved by any two sensible humans in far less time than it takes them. His behavior is almost unbelievably unreasonable at points, and it makes him less sympathetic as a character, even to the occasional point where the reader wonders what Annie sees in him. Also, some of the aspects of Annie’s connection with Sara feel a bit creepy rather than romantic (especially when Sandy is taken to the hospital, and Annie casually tells the doctors she’s her mother).
However, despite a few flaws, this is a rather charming love story, which should appeal to incurable romantics in search of a pleasant diversion.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
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