Dances of the Heart: Andrea Downing
Authors create stories and endings that fit the story or plots they have created. Ranchers can breed horses and race them to win. Loses can take a toll on a young person when the person they plan to marry dies suddenly. A young man returning from a tour of duty in Iraq has to learn to assimilate back into society. What do these four people have in common? On a hot sultry night in Texas their paths intertwined and one small act of kindness would snowball into relationships that just might change their lives.
Carrie Bennett has forgotten what life is really like and has created her own world in her books. Leaving her past behind and entering the pages of her books she lives each day through her characters. Romance novels often end with perfect solutions that will brings two people together. But, writing romance novels and being able to create your own perfect ending is not something Carrie is able to do.
Going to Texas to do research for her latest novel she and her daughter Paige find a young man in need of a ride home. Jake Ryder is the first to enter their lives as he has just returned from a tour in Iraq and Carrie agrees to drive him home. How can anyone resist a handsome young man in uniform? Standing alone on the local road, “among the weeds and trash strewn on the verge, his bag at his feet,” hard to resist. Carrie in due conscience could not leave him on the side of the road and little did she know that this simple act of kindness would bring about a chain of events that would drastically change four lives. Trying to make conversation while on the way home Jake introduces himself to both Carrie and Paige but neither seems very forthcoming. Going through the motions and reliving her past and her failures Carrie carries more than just a chip on her shoulders and even though she and Paige begin joining in the nightlife and meeting some of the locals things within their pasts and the package that they seem to be carrying hinder their ability to move forward.
Paige was slated for law school but decided to take some time to redefine her goals while joining her mother on her research expedition. But, before all is said and done both would learn something about themselves that would change the way they look at life, their past and possibly help them deal with the future.
Success is what Carrie has found as an author but her track record with men is lower than the lowest batting average of a poor baseball player. Living through her writing and tossing aside any other relationships she has sheltered herself within the pages of her novels and created her own special prison. Paige is still harboring her own grief after losing her fiancé to a serious illness. Joining Carrie she hopes to get a new perspective and enjoy some free time dancing and having some fun.
As Jake Ryder has just entered their lives Ray, his father would play a pivotal role too. Relationships are at the heart of this novel and finding your own identity and being accepted for whom you are just two issues that are brought to light in this novel.
Jake seems fascinated by Paige as Ray almost mesmerized by Carrie at first sight. But, what can a man who wallows in his own unhappiness at times and buries himself in liquor bring to someone like Carrie? Both Ray and Jake have demons to conquer and Jake is harboring a secret that could destroy his relationship with his father and bring him down even more. On page 21 the confrontation that is shared will set the tone for more to come.
As the novel progresses both Carrie and Paige join in the dancing, the drinking and nightlife in order for Carrie to complete her novel and send it to her agent on time. But, what they both did not expect was the instant connection between all four and the end result just might surprise you.
Secrets can often destroy a person when hiding a hidden truth. Jake has harbored a secret about the death of his younger brother for years from his father not wanting to hurt him. Confiding his secret in Paige helps him cope but does not release him from his guilt and pain. As Ray tries to court Carrie and they finally mesh and blend what happens between them seems real until Carrie puts up her shield and runs back to her old life. This was supposed to be a short trip and her reaction to Ray wanting her to stay and have a more permanent relationship frightened her even though she cares for him. Flashbacks to her past and the reasons for her failed marriage and relationships come out as author Andrea Downing allows readers into the mind and thoughts of Carrie Bennett. But, paralleling her fears and understanding her reasoning does not change what Ray is trying to do. Sometimes life hands you a bad hand but other times you might come out with a royal flush.
The story becomes more complicated as the author reveals the secret about Jake’s brother Robbie and someone threatens to tell it all and much more if Jake does not play by his rules. A blackmail scheme that could land Jake in jail but the end result could be more tragic. Fears, lies, deceits, revenge and one man that thinks he is holding all the cards and another who has to decide how to fight back. With his friendship with Paige getting tighter Jake confides in her once again and the end result will surprise not only the readers but the blackmailer too.
Thinking that he might have escaped the wrath of this man Jake and Ray never expect what he does next. Tragedy strikes, the police are called in but the truth has yet to be revealed. Stating whom he thinks might have caused the tragedy it becomes evident that Jake will have to confess to even more. But, things turn ugly and someone turns up as Carrie and Ray’s relationship moves to the next step someone from his past is determined to make sure he pays in more ways than one. What would you do if your boyfriend’s wife shows up demanding money and stating that she can live in his home? What would you do if you were Carrie and faced this woman? Carrie feels betrayed and once again buries herself in her work and finds herself back where she started from as Paige too leaves Texas and registers for school.
One man that will never give up and one loud burst of truth that will change it all. Carrie and Ray sound off and each one spouts off at the other and the truth about Robbie is revealed and his assessment of her told. As Jake gets accustomed to working on the ranch with his father and Carrie coming there often what happens during one dark night when she could not sleep creates a startling result.
Things finally heat up and Jake tells his father about his brother’s past and truths come out and one man is determined to take it all away from them. When the blackmailer confronts both Jake and Ray. Who will be left standing and who will finally get what they deserve? Who is guilty of lies: Ray, Jake or just circumstances that happened? What happens when Jake tells it all and decides to take responsibility for his actions? What happens when Carrie finishes her book and cannot create an ending that readers would expect?
Ray Ryder just wanted to get to know Carrie while others were enamored with her fame and money. One man left her and her heart hardened like stone. Another broke through and now she has become an empty shell. Words are passed between them as the author shares Ray’s thoughts and Carrie comes back with her own as author Andrea Downing creates a story that will make readers understand the importance of truth, honesty and caring. Forgiveness, remorse, revenge and four people whose lives intersected at a crossroads and now they have to decide if they want to travel in the same direction or leave that fork in the road and turn back leaving the present behind. Distance can create either more of a chasm or someone just might help both parties bridge the gap. Will Carrie decide to hide from life and continue to live through her writing or will she finally realize her feelings for Ray? Will Ray finally stand up to his ex-wife and will four people from four different worlds come together in one?
An ending that will surprise readers and characters that you just might want to see more of as the author leaves room to continue on with the story as we get to know more about Jake and Paige? Law school or will she drop out? Jake will he find his way to remain on the ranch or head for other pastures? Dances of the Heart: Let the music begin.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews