Ava Day lost her way. Three years ago, she abandoned her artist husband Ethan and their small daughters, convinced they'd be better off without her. Living as Althena Bell, she's buried love and searched for identity in painting her fantasy art again. She's also moved in with Dan, a fellow whose idea of artistic expression is the ink on his arms and a purring street bike dressed in chrome.
After Ava left, Ethan found refuge in a new faith encouraged to grow by lovely widow Jackie Meyer. Now he's wondering if it's time to give up on Ava and move on.
But when Ava's bohemian lifestyle sours, danger lands her in the haven of Ethan's home again. Her children no longer know her, and her heart aches to recapture the past, but conflict between Ava's search for identity and Ethan's new faith might break the safety net he offers.
She felt his glance more than saw it, but she couldn't look at him. Not yet. Shame began to fill the place left by her anxious fear. She bit her fingernail and stared straight ahead.
His car was nice. The seats were clean and soft, and water drenched off her clothes into them. "Sorry for messing up your car. I got caught on my bike..." The explanation was pointless. Just something to say.
"You cold? I can pull in someplace and get you a cup of coffee."
"That would be nice. I planned to have tea."
"Ah, yes. The Emporium."
She flicked him a glance. He looked out at the road ahead, so she allowed herself to steal another. He hadn't changed much. A little more mature at thirty-one than he looked just three years ago. More masculine. Warmth crept up her neck.
He pulled into a drive-through and ordered her a large coffee with extra cream.
"You remembered." She was surprised at that, but tried not to sound like it.
He handed her the Styrofoam cup and a little sack of creamers, napkin, and stir stick. A soft smile turned up the corners of his lips.
"Thanks." She fixed up her brew and took a sip, coddling the cup between both hands. Ethan pulled out onto the street.
He drove on, turning here and there, but going nowhere. About half way through her coffee he cleared his throat. "Anywhere in particular, Ava?"
She glanced again and noted the troubled expression on his face. How could the shame grow any worse? She thought about the people she knew, Ann and Ruby, women from work, friends of both her and Dan, no one she dared go to. She shrugged. Her voice came out as a whisper. "I don't know. I don't have any place to go right now."
He frowned and stayed quiet for another two blocks. "You, uh... You want to come to the house?"
"I couldn't." The words rushed out, but she didn't know what else to say. "I mean, I appreciate the offer..."
He was nodding his head, his lower lip between his teeth.
"I mean..." She started to nod too. "Yes, sure. I don't have any place to go."
He darted a gaze at her first, then to the road and back to her. "All right then. That's no problem."
No problem, seriously? Her life was a problem. And suddenly it had ballooned ten-fold.
Posted by Unknown on 12th Aug 2013
I give this a 4.5
What’s next for author Naomi Musch? After many successful titles in
the arena of historic romance, Musch has shortened her protagonists’ skirts
and traded their horses for bikes and cars, first in Heart Not Taken, and now in her
soon to be released Paint Me Althena. As always, Musch’s characters are troubled but trying to overcome their trials, as in the case of protagonist Ava Day grappling with “a loss of my own making.” Abandoned husband Ethan Day struggles to remain open-hearted to the prodigal wife who abandoned him and their two children three years earlier. Though she feels like a poison apple, dangerous to everyone she has ever cared about; Ethan believes “There's always room for second chances and do-overs as long as you're still breathing."
Check out this title if you like contemporary women’s fiction, books set in the Northland, or stories about people who take wrong turns.