A Soft Place To Fall
by Barbara Bretton, contemporary (2001)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-4251-8216-9

A Soft Place To Fall is like a well-produced daytime TV show. The story meanders along in a pleasant, enjoyable manner, sort of like talking a stroll on a lovely evening. The characters display some depths but not too deep so that they don't stray from the Perfect People mold, and why yes, everything's just sweet and lovely in Brettonland today. Nice.

This story revolves around widow Annie Galloway who sells off the house she and her late husband shared and move on to a more reclusive area by the beach. Can't you tell that this is fiction? If only we all can move to beach cottages when we get the blues. Meanwhile, an old friend, with matchmaking designs in mind, lets his young friend Sam Butler stay at his place, which is just a stone throw away from Annie's place. Old coot - don't you have anything better to do with your life, like marrying trophy wives or splurging money on your last days?

So it goes. A widow who is afraid to let go of the past, a handsome and sensitive slightly-tortured hero, they fall in love like that *snaps fingers* and now it's all slow-slow shy-shy TLC all the way.

My favorite character has to be Claudia, Annie's mother-in-law. She's not a sweet character, she's in fact sometimes a stubborn and annoying hag, but you know what? I find her rather real. In fact, her stubborn ways remind me of my own mother at times. (No, I don't need to know what my kids think of stubborn old me, thanks very much.) She's not a sweet matchmaking hee-hee-hee where's-my-primrose-pills caricature, and that's what I need after that recent Suzann Ledbetter book.

Sweet romance, some sweet and nice emotional scenes that get wrapped up in sweet little gift boxes by the end, and all the warm sunshine and beach and water I can want. No matter what, still, it's Christmas and the whole world is pretty FUBAR at the moment, so who cares about all that? I'll just put on my vicarious hat, grab some nice hot tea, and snuggle up to enjoy this well-written piece of escapism.

I want my own beach cottage.

Rating: 87

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