“Love and Roses” by Suzanne D. Williams is a sweet Christian romance about a young widow. Allison was married to a policeman who was killed in the line of duty. A year and a half later, she needs to spruce up her self-image, and decides to join a gym and begin working out. There, she meets Ian, a very good-looking trainer that divorced his wife when she hired a killer and made him a target.
Both of these characters are lugging around baggage from their past. What is interesting is the way the characters have that in common, but display and react to it in different ways. The memories that make Allison cry are the memories that make Ian angry. While she maintains a shrine to her heroic husband, keeping all of his possessions in the fear that she might lose his memory, Ian reacts to his wife’s betrayal by throwing everything away. The same emotion elicits two different reactions, and yet it results in the same empty feeling of being all alone.
Men and women don’t always think alike, and the author did a good job of showing that difference. She also shows that strong men can be weak at times, and that weak women can still find the courage to face up to a challenge. As a result, the characters are true to what they are, yet fully fleshed out, real and endearing.
The story is well-written, nicely plotted, and contains a twist in the ending that wasn’t expected, but brings it to the most logical and workable solution possible. This isn’t a story where the characters just change their minds; it’s a story of grappling with emotion, see-sawing back and forth, taking it one day at a time, and finding enough courage to take one more baby step in the right direction.