Thirteen years ago, two teens met on the ramp to Ground Zero, on a cold and snowy day, strangers bonding in a moment of grief. The boy pressed a crystal snowflake ornament into the girl’s hand and disappeared into the crowd, unaware that his simple act of kindness saved her from the guilt that threatened to consume her.
Since losing her mom, Elena Larsen hasn’t set foot in New York City — until now. Agreeing to help her sister prepare for her baby’s birth seems like a good way to spend Christmas and Elena vows not to let the monstrous guilt that weighs on her heart ruin everything. But those plans go awry when she meets Lucas Adair, a man whose own grief and guilt just might rival her own.
When Elena discovers Lucas is the boy who gave her that crystal snowflake all those years ago, she can’t accept it as the sign Lucas believes it to be. For her, it means only one thing — even beyond the grave, her mother can never forgive Elena for breaking her heart.
For Lucas, New York is hallowed ground that he can never leave. He spends his days working in the Financial District and his evenings volunteering and it’s almost enough to help him forget what he did. Lucas knows better than to make plans with a woman who will soon be leaving, yet can’t help himself. There’s something about Elena that pulls him in. He doesn’t put much faith in signs but even he starts to believe Elena is his absolution. Now, he only has to convince her.
From Tule Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review. One of a number of novellas set in New York around Christmas time, other stories reviewed include All I want for Christmas by Jennifer Gracen, A Light in the Window by Jolyse Barnett and This Christmas by Jeannie Moon.
Fictional characters experiencing 9/11 is centered in reality and that many can relate to even if the didn’t lose anyone. For two children to lose a parent, especially when already feeling lost, is the premise of this story and whilst they were never in love when younger (a premise in the other stories) they still had a connection – Lucas giving an unknown girl a Christmas trinket from the mother he’d just lost in the hope that it prevented her from jumping.
A decade or so later, Elena returns to New York to her sister Kara, who is in the last month of her pregnancy. On the doorstep she meets Luke (Lucas), he of the stunning smile, and whilst attracted to him, refuses to see a future as she would be leaving after the child is born. Little does she know, but she needs to stand in for Kara (who has been signed off sick) as a volunteer for the local charity, and this throws her in the path of Luke time and again. Meanwhile, Luke’s friend has a thing for “signs” and it is a leap of faith for the Lucas and Elena to look for forgiveness in themselves, their dead parent, and those around them.
The main characters here both have their own issues to overcome – primarily over the loss of a parent in such traumatic circumstances. Neither are particularly open to new encounters after more than a decade of hurt. This seems the most real of the 4 novellas in the series, probably because of the “realness” of 9/11 as an actual event.
Of course there are obstacles to overcome, but this is a romance after all so I think you can be rest assured that things will work out just fine!