Finding Solace in JANE’S MELODY–A Review

How can you find love in times of extreme grief?

Hi there! Today’s book is a contemporary romance, of a different sort. JANE’S MELODY, best-seller Ryan Winfield’s tale of discovering love in the ashes of extreme loss is, well, it’s a bittersweet lullaby.

Jane's Melody (Jane's Melody, #1)About the book:

What boundaries would you cross for true love?

That’s the question a grieving mother must answer when she takes in a young street musician she believes can shed light on her daughter’s death—only to find herself falling for him. A sexy but touching love story that will leave you both tantalized and in tears, Jane’s Melody follows a forty-year-old woman on a romantic journey of rediscovery after years of struggling alone.

Sometimes our greatest gifts come from our greatest pain. And now Jane must decide if it’s too late for her to start over, or if true love really knows no limits.

My Review:

Jane is heartbroken at the loss of her only daughter, Melody, to a drug overdose. Melody had been a troubled teen, and Jane sought every opportunity to treat and assist her daughter for years. Now, they had been estranged for almost a year–a year in which Jane tried to maintain contact, but Melody pushed her away. At the funeral, Jane noticed a young man leave a silver dollar behind, in remembrance.

Jane struggles with depression and the isolation of her quiet home on Bainbridge Island. She never married, raising Melody alone and having strained relationships with her mother and brother–both alcoholics, though her mother is “dry”. In fact, Jane’s whole support network consists of her Al-Anon friends who she meets weekly. Among them, Jane’s sponsor Grace is the closest.

On a trip into Seattle to recover Melody’s personal effects, Jane encounters the young man from the funeral busking for tips near Melody’s former job. Jane speaks with him, but Caleb is unwilling to part with any memories of her lost child. Grief makes Jane obsessive over details from Melody’s final weeks and she seeks out Caleb, finding him battered and homeless several days later. So, she promptly takes him in.

Caleb isn’t big on being a moocher, and they come to an agreement: Caleb will clean up the landscape on Jane’s property for payment, room and board. In this way Caleb will earn the money he’d needed to travel to Austin and perform. The two strike up an uneasy friendship. Jane is terribly attracted to Caleb–he’s a strapping twenty-five year old man doing serious lawn work in the spring heat. But, he may also have been her daughter’s boyfriend–which gives Jane the (appropriate) heebie-jeebies. Caleb is rather playful, to boot, almost taunting Jane with his body, at times.

Jane’s galfriends all find her live-in gardener situation to be idyllic, but the tension becomes unbearable. Grace continues to urge Jane to find happiness–even if it is with a young lover. Watching their awkward dance toward each other is delicious. And, even when it seems Jane is willing to let go her constraint, she just never seems to forget their age difference. Still, fifteen years is not so long, and the companionship that Caleb brings to Jane’s life is surely worth more than a few sideways looks.

There are some serious conflict issues at play–namely an opportunity that Jane won’t let Caleb pass up–not on her account–which causes a heart-rending separation. And, Grace has need of Jane’s sturdy shoulder for a good bit, but the resolution of the story is a fearless flight to acquire the love Jane thought she’d lost.

This bittersweet romance is a quiet, thoughtful, well-rounded story. I really felt connected to both Jane and Caleb, wishing they could just get it right. Jane’s pain, loss and isolation were so present in her life I could experience it. Caleb was the heart that Jane thought she couldn’t have–and he was steadfast, and doting and compassionate. They are a couple I will remember.

Interested? You can find JANE’S MELODY at Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The sequel, JANE’S HARMONY comes out this summer. It’s in my TBR. Thanks to NetGalley for getting me interested in this complicated love story.

Ryan Winfield
About this author:

Hi, I’m Ryan Winfield. I’m a 39-year-old writer living in Seattle. Author of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Jane’s Melody: A Novel, South of Bixby Bridge, and The Park Service Trilogy. I hope you enjoy my books and I’d love to hear from you here or on Facebook

I’ve been asked why I write. I write because I remember.

I remember waking up to snow. Great buckets of it poured from the gray skies and blanketing everything in quiet white. I remember racing to dress, struggling with my boots. “Here, don’t forget your mittens.” I remember the soft thump of that first footstep in the cold and virgin powder, the tracks looking back, foghorns blowing on the mist-covered bay. I feel the canvas paper bag cutting into my shoulders, the weight of Sunday’s headlines heavy on my mind. I see the trees bowed with armloads of white, as if to curtsey my passing. I remember rubber bands and ink stained hands. A car spun sideways in a ditch. Always a car. Then barking dogs, a distant chainsaw. Freckles throwing fastballs that hurt for the cold of them on my neck. I remember snowmen, and igloos, and icy trails through the white and wondrous woods. And I remember sweet Mrs. Johnson waiting at her door. The smell of Avon powder, her thin smile, an envelope pressed into my palm–ten dollars and a peppermint candy cane thank you. Evening now. I remember running downtown–Salvation Army bells, white lights strung in sidewalk trees, bundled shoppers bent against the wind. I remember the heavy door, the warmth, the wood. The bookstore! Smells of paper and leather and ink. Walls of worlds bound and waiting for me to read.

Nothing has affected me as much as reading has. Dickens, Tolkien, and Lewis raised me. And while I’ve walked through my own hell, made my own mistakes, and found my own redemption, always there have been books. Books to help me escape, books to teach me when to stay and fight, books to help me see where I’ve been wrong and where I’ve been right.

I write because I remember. And I write because I still dream.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends! 🙂


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