Author submission in exchange for an honest review.
January 14, 2011
Red Rose Publishing
Elysiana Rouva has come to a point in where she is questioning her life. Recently overcoming a long, hard battle with breast cancer, she is vulnerable and depressed. Her husband Pavlos, although outwardly supportive, provides her with no real comfort. Their marriage is a farce. She no longer loves him and is not threatened by his numerous affairs or his obsession with his work. Her friends say all the right words but she cannot make them understand.
Enter Michael. The young man Pavlos sends to tend their garden turns Ellie’s world on its head. She senses his interest in her but it is more than sexual. It is a connection of souls.
When I first read the blurb for Fragile Dreams, I had the impression that it would be a terribly sad story. I hoped that it wouldn’t be “curl up on the couch with a Lifetime movie and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s sad.” Not that I have anything against Lifetime movies and Ben & Jerry’s. Actually, they’re two of my favorite things in the world. At any rate, my hopes were justified. This story was sad, but in a way that reminded me of a brilliant combination of The Bridges of Madison County and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, both of which are on my list of five favorite books.
Ellie is a breast cancer survivor, trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband Pavlos embodies every stereotype ever attributed to Greek/Italian/Mediterranean men: pompous, overbearing, possessive, and emotionally detached. Ellie has a circle of friends – women who care about her, but don’t necessarily show it in the best way. And then she meets Michael. Michael is devastatingly handsome, charming, soulful, and intense. He also puts Ellie into an emotional tailspin. She is so wildly attracted to him, but, despite her horrible marriage, she resists for any number of reasons: she’s too old for Michael, she’s married, she’s scarred from her mastectomy, etc. Deep down, she knows that she doesn’t want to fight her attraction to Michael, but she is way too overwhelmed to figure out what to do.
Michael, though falling deeply for Ellie, tries to do the right thing, and leave her alone. After one shared dinner together, so reminiscent of the kitchen scene in The Bridges of Madison County, Michael kisses Ellie, and then walks out of her life. That is, until he sees her at a party celebrating her husband’s business. Ellie, brokenhearted, flees the party as soon as she realizes that Michael is there, only to have him catch up with her in a secluded beach side cove. In the cove, while escaping the prying eyes of Pavlos’ right-hand man, they connect on a more physical level. One of the best things for me about this sex scene is that through all of the physical description, I could sense the deep emotions running through both of the characters. This wasn’t some lustful game, but rather a bonding of souls.
The night on the beach turns out to be the turning point in Michael & Ellie’s relationship. They continue to meet when Pavlos is out of town, but eventually reality catches up with them, and Pavlos confronts Michael about the affair. Pavlos is furious, and ends up having Michael deported. There’s a big twist that comes into play shortly after this, and I don’t want to give anything away.
I loved everything about this story. The characters were so vivid and so real that they felt like old friends. It was so easy to feel for Ellie – her bitterness was palpable, her loneliness was haunting, her feelings of hurt, betrayal, and love ran so deep that it felt like I was experiencing the same things. This was really just a beautiful, poignant piece that I absolutely want to read again and again.