Review by Adrina Palmer
A woman loses her fiancé to suicide right before their wedding. She spends the next year mourning before stumbling upon a lady with a story more tragic than her own.
‘Love, Alice,’ by Barbara Davis, should come with a punch out ‘do not disturb’ sign inside the cover. Do not open this book unless you have two to three days set aside to read unhindered. Between the not-so-subtle romance, the family drama times two, and love notes to an unborn baby, the pages turn themselves. The only real drawback is the lack of surprise that is almost a prerequisite for romance novels.
Dovie Larkins was going to marry the love of her life until he committed suicide just weeks before the wedding. A year later, she still visits William’s grave every day. She has befriended Josiah, the elderly cemetery grounds worker, and even shares lunch with him almost every day. Her job at the local art museum falls to the wayside as grief and questions continue to overwhelm her mind. With no understanding of why a man who claimed to love her would kill himself instead of marrying her, she cannot let go and move on with her life. A new wealthy client donates a large sum of money for a new wing to the museum. Dovie fumbles her way through the details of the gala focusing more on the cemetery than her work.
Austin Tate, a widower for over a decade, is busy coping with his father’s death and helping his mother cope. In her honor, he donates some of his late father’s money to the museum to scorn his father’s selfish ways. He is determined to set up the gala details without falling in love with the flustered Dovie while flirting with her every opportunity presented. Dovie is in no mood to deal with a flirty bachelor who could have any girl in town, despite his prestigious family.
While having lunch at William’s grave one day, Dovie spots an older woman at an ornate grave in the Tate’s plot. When she notices the woman leave a note at a grave, curiosity grabs her and forces her to read the note as soon as the woman is out of sight. What she finds is a haunting tale of a teenager, Alice, with child, forced into an abusive home for unwed mothers. Alice is forced to place her baby for adoption but vows to find her baby no matter the cost. She follows the trail of her infant to the home of a wealthy family in Charleston. Dovie manages to locate more letters with the help of Josiah and finds herself playing caretaker to Alice’s mother, Dora.
Together, Dora and Dovie, work through the pain of grief together as they follow the ghostly trail left by Alice. Between caring for Dora, dealing with Austin, reading Alice’s letters, and setting up the gala, Dovie has no time to deal with a surprise visitor from her dead finance’s past. The visitor needs help, which leads to a run-in with William’s parents as skeletons start tumbling out of the closet. Both women start to receive hard answers to their questions about their lost loved ones. Austin also finds his world shaken as his feelings for Dovie complicate other secrets threatening to spill out for the world to see.
The drama spilled on these pages is not cheap wine. The emotions are strong and harsh, not minor problems capable of being fixed with a few heartfelt words. Dovie is an understandable basket case. Austin is clique, at best. More work should have been put into his character, despite an almost after thought attempt to add depth to his personality. His mother, Gemma, is appropriately named as she is a gem in this book. Her loving and fallible personality shine through where other characters are lacking. The plot is enough to turn pages, the characters are enjoyable, but the real reason you will read every page is the beautifully written letters from Alice to her unborn child and the tragic story she tells. The weaving together of two entirely different tales into one is what makes this book magical. Alice’s story could stand alone as its own heart-wrenching story, but adding in Dovie’s heartbreak and characters leaning on each other for support turns this story into a beautiful novel.
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