book review: Snowbound with a Stranger

 Title: Snowbound with a Stranger

Author: Rebecca Rogers Maher

Publisher: Carina Press

While it’s not very often I can claim personal association with a published and blossoming author, today I can make that claim. Having attended school with author, Rebecca Rogers Maher, I am thrilled to see the fulfilling of her dream to become a published writer. I am equally excited for the opportunity to review her latest work, Snowbound with a Stranger.

Having said that, I must admit my dabbling into the world of romance novels consists of three books, all of which can be considered “light & sweet”: heavy on the cream and sugar providing just enough boost to coast through the morning. Snowbound with a Stranger catapulted my meanderings in the romance genre to that of Turkish Coffee: thick, heavy, and full of punch.

Snowbound is one hot and steamy read—certainly NOT your momma’s romance novel! Yes, the sex scenes are spicy, uncontrolled, and frequent, but they are not random. They serve a purpose. I believe that purpose is to chip away at the safely guarded walls and highly structured lives both Dannie and Lee have come to lead.

After losing his wife to cancer and so many of his fellow officers to the tragic events of September 11th, 42-year old Lee built a barrier around the most fragile part of himself: his heart. Though Lee is able to develop and maintain friendships, his forays into meaningful, lasting relationships are circumvented by the need to protect himself from ever experiencing a loss so great again. Switching career tracks from policeman to Social Work, Lee mentions his desire for change is to assist others through difficult times. While I see this is mostly true, I sense Lee uses his line of work as a means to keep distance from addressing the deepest hurt experienced in his own life … that is, until he meets Dannie, who produces tingles of possibility in both his heart and mind.

In 38-year old Dannie, we find a nurse employed in a busy hospital who is deep in the throes of burnout. Dannie refers to the emotional mask that must be worn to retain sanity over the long haul. It is easy to see how years of this style of coping with death and sickness, coupled with a highly structured daily routine as a nurse, leave Dannie numb, emotionally vacant … unable to fully offer herself to anyone for that which she needs to draw from in order to give to another, her heart, is remote, withdrawn. Her daily mode of operation = “going through the motions.” That is, until she meets Lee, who causes a spark of hope to ignite within her.

And so, when Lee and Dannie find themselves alone, together, in a cabin, for the weekend after a group hike turns dangerous as a blizzard blows through upstate New York, they find a few constructive ways to pass the time. (One of which is playing Scrabble.)

At some level, the only way for Dannie and Lee to break through the emotional wall is with physical touch, hence the reason the sex scenes are so intense in Snowbound. Uncontrolled physicality, spurred by the heat of passion, is the means through which they begin to truly feel—connect—again. In so doing they are able to face the past, address the present, and sincerely connect with another person from the heart, without a mask.

Was I tad confused by Dannie’s back-n-forth attitude toward Lee? Yes. Was I a bit offended by Lee’s attempts to control? Yes. But they work in the context of the story because that’s reality. The reason for the wounded hero/ine is because life is made up of wounded people. One lesson learned from the careers of Dannie and Lee, is that life is harsh. People are complex. The “happily ever after” syndrome perpetuated in fairy tales does not exist. They are left to make choices on how to internalize the pain and determine the filters through which they cope and assimilate moving forward. Dannie’s seeming erratic behavior is driven by fear. Lee’s attempts at control are driven by need. The process of working through their fears and coming to terms with them cannot be achieved in a three-day romp in a cabin, with a stranger. Period. I think this is the author’s point. Processing takes time. Healing takes time. Change takes time. Growth takes time. Trust takes time. Though the process starts for both in a wooden cabin, it is not complete by novella’s end.

And that is ok because that is reality.

I look forward to reading the rest of the works in the author’s Recovery series, and to all future publications by Rebecca Rogers Maher.

To learn more about Rebecca Rogers Maher, please click on one of the icons below.

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