Sabbatical for Love, a romance novel, opens with self-described playboy Drew Sutherland taking voice lessons from the famous Maestro Luciani to prepare for a career in opera. In his mid-20s, Drew is rich, handsome and entitled. He has drifted from one vocation to the next, finally deciding on voice as his future. But in the opening scene, he brutally beats Luciani for no good reason and flees to his wealthy father in France, where readers learn that Drew suffers from a multiple personality disorder.
Cut to Willow Roberts on her parents’ farm in Iowa. After breaking her engagement to a man her family would like her to marry, Willow leaves for Pennsylvania to work for a wealthy dressage trainer. She is in no mood to meet another man, but meet one she does. Once in Pennsylvania, Willow encounters Drew, who has traveled from France to his grandmother’s farm, where he hopes to recover from his breakdown and seek answers to his problems stemming from his childhood, in which his abusive mother, who died of a drug overdose, set into motion his multiple personalities.
Will Willow trust Drew enough to allow him into her bed? The reader hopes not, but knows better.
Willow is a somewhat sympathetic character, but at this point, the plot, never very robust, sputters and stalls, and the story falls victim to its many drawbacks. The allure of this genre lies in the female protagonist falling for an attractive male lead. In this case, although we’re told that Drew is outwardly attractive, his personalities–all five of them–are decidedly not. His dominant personality is self-involved. Another is a bully; others are confused and weak. In addition, the story is filled with clunky dialogue, too much telling, rather than showing, and exposition that does not advance the plot.
In sum, the author’s storytelling shortcomings never compensate for Drew’s deficiencies as a romantic figure, and the story falls far short of a page-turning romance.
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