This Sunday's Oldie but Goodie is...
First Released August 1994
I remember the first time I read this story. I was getting over bronchitis, and I had missed a whole lot of work because of how sick I had gotten. I found this book quite by accident at the bookstore a month or so before and hadn't had the chance to read it yet. So while I was propped up on my couch drinking hot lemon tea and inhaling cough drops like they were going out of style, I sat back and started reading. I don't remember moving until I finished the book some hours later. My tea was cold, my back hurt from sitting in one position for so long, and my throat hurt from not having any cough drops.
So what did I do? I dragged my rear up, got a fresh, hot mug of tea, chewed a cough drop, and sat back down to read it again.
That's how much I love this story.
Julia Edwards is a divorced mother of one, who's daughter has just finished her first year of college and is taking a tour of Europe with her best friend and her parents. Julia is feeling understandably alone right now, and the corporate takeover of her company doesn't help one little bit.
When she meets Val, Julia thinks she has totally lost it. You see, Val begins speaking to her from her television set. Val is actually Valentina Manchester, movie starlet extraordinaire who's life was tragically cut short 30 years ago in a car crash. Val has been sent back to help someone in need, and that someone happens to be Julia Edwards. Val sees in Julia someone who desperately needs a makeover and a man, and not necessarily in that order. Julia, however, couldn't disagree more, and has no intentions of trusting a man ever again.
That all changes when she meets Steve McMillan. of course, she can't just meet a random nice guy. That would be too easy. Steve happens to be the representative from Amalgamated, the company that just bought out Coolback, the place she has worked since just after her daughter was born. No, Steve is the enemy, and she can't consort with the enemy. Right?
Steve can sense Julia's instant dislike of him the moment they meet, and while he is used to that attitude when he walks into a new company, for some reason this time it really bothers him. No one had ever really challenged him like Julia does, forcing him to see the human side to a corporate takeover and not just the numbers.
As Steve and Julia get to know each other, they both begin to understand that the other may be just what they were looking for in their lives. An invitation to Julia to tour France with Steve to see his vineyard is the answer to her prayers. Unfortunately, Val has her own agenda once she discovers the happier Julia gets the more Val starts to age. And Val just can't have that.
I've tried to put my finger on exactly what it is about this story I like so much. I don't think it is any one thing, though. The writing is very descriptive without banging the story over your head like a baseball bat. The author's character development works well, and the overall story just catches my imagination without even trying. The heat level is sensual, but by the time Steve and Julia get together, they have definitely gotten to know each other and it definitely fits the story line.
I could not locate an official website for this wonderful author, but I did locate a complete booklist for the author on the web here.