The Way Home, by Linda Howard

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Way Home, by Linda Howard, was one of the books I asked about below.

For Anna Sharp the choice was clear. Saxon Malone might not want his baby, but she did... even if that meant having to leave the man she loved. But maybe, if she were able to show him the value of his past, he could come to want to share his future... as a family.
The Way Home was actually the first story in an anthology, which also contained Family by Fate, by Paula Detmer Riggs and Stella Bagwell's Baby on the Doorstep. I did start the PDR story when I was done with TWH, but after 30 pages it wasn't working for me, so I just dropped it. And the last story didn't tempt me in the least.

TWH was surprisingly good, much better than I expected after I read the first couple of pages and realized what the set-up was going to be. A B-.

The story starts when Anna Sharp has realized she's pregnant and gets ready to tell the baby's father. Anna and Saxon aren't "lovers". She's his mistress, and every connotation and implication of that word is present in their arrangement. She was his secretary when they had sex for the first time, and the minute that was done, Saxon told her she could be his secretary or she could be his mistress, but not both.

So Anna quit her job and went to live in an appartment Saxon provided for her. He didn't allow her to get another job. He supported her and took measures to make sure she'd be ok financially once their arrangement ended. He didn't go to live with her, either, but kept his own appartment and went to her every night. And they didn't even develop a regular relationship, their interactions had no emotion, other than in bed. Why did Anna accept something like this? Well, simply because she was soooo in love with him and intuitively realized this was the only relationship he would allow himself to have with her.

Sounds awful, right? But Howard makes it work, somehow. I think the key point is that she managed to make me empathize with Saxon, to understand why he was so afraid to become emotionally involved with anyone. She made me see that the guy was positively crying out for someone to love him, but was terrified to be hurt again.

And once Saxon realized he needed to risk himself or risk losing Anna, their relationship changed radically, and became pretty good. It's a pretty good story, really.


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