A review of Sun in My Heart by Tricia LaRochelle
"Love comforteth like sunshine after rain." William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis
Medical science proves what humans have known since antiquity; sunlight heals our bodies and our souls. From vitamin D and serotonin production to antiseptic wound treatment, the sun that powers our planet and everything on it gifts us with life and health. The only other light we need is love — it heals everything else.
Tricia LaRochelle’s latest novel, Sun in My Heart, is a celebration of this truth, a gripping story of wounded people desperately seeking balm for their pain and finding it through the healing light of their mutual love. As with her Sara Browne series, the woman and the man must fight against difficult odds, including their own self-doubt and internalized contempt, to find that curative power, and this is what makes LaRochelle’s stories so compelling. She weaves romance with suspense like a tapestry, beautiful for the dark threads as well as the light.
Sophie Quinn escapes an abusive marriage and hides away from everything associated with the upper-class lifestyle that left her loveless and bruised in body and soul. Her uncaring mother and distant father can’t understand her choice, even when she tells them plainly of the sexual and psychological torture she has suffered. Starting a new life in a house with acreage, she struggles to recreate herself as something beyond the wife to a social-climbing sociopath and daughter to loveless parents who are intent on power, money and prestige.
As she is rebuilding her sense of self she meets and falls for Brian, a down-to-earth working man, caretaker to a nearby estate owned by a famous music star who is hiding from his own demons. But trouble soon arrives unbidden. Sophie almost ends the relationship when a touch from Brian is too close to the worst her husband visited on her. Brian, too, has scars from previous lovers, but they pick their way carefully through the troubles until they find what they need — kindness and acceptance. For a time, they enjoy their budding love in a private world where they can each open themselves to the other.
Then, everything around them seems to conspire to wreck what they have built. When the husband breaks into Sophie’s house and attacks her, Brian arrives to save the day. But the fight to protect her reveals a terrible truth he has kept hidden, and their breakup seems final. Retreating to their corners, they wrestle alone with self-loathing and doubt, until Sophie makes a brave leap into the unknown, giving herself permission to love herself, give love and receive love.
This is storytelling at its finest.
Author LaRochelle is unsparing in her depictions of the sexual, physical and psychological horror that men all too often inflict on the women they purport to love. She is equally blunt in depicting the traumatic scars left by such abuse. We ache through the many times Sophie cannot muster the self-confidence and regard to stand up for herself against the people forcing her to play the role they have written. LaRochelle’s heroines nearly buckle under the weight of their corporeal and cognitive trauma, and she gives the reader a front row seat to their anguished thoughts and feelings. But in the end, these women find a core of grit in their bellies that guides them through the worst until they find the light of love that completes their healing.
Likewise, the author does not make cartoon villains of even the worst of her characters. Sophie will never reconcile with her former husband, but he finds his humanity and with contrition gives her all she wants in the divorce. The disapproving mother is suffering her own trauma, and Sophie learns that she will not get the mother she wants, but she can live with the mother she has. And the distant father mends his ways to rebuild his relationship with his only child. No one is pure angel or devil; we all are walking wounded, making choices as best we can in this life that visits rain and sun on all equally.
This is storytelling at its finest, a rendering of the troubles we all face and the triumphs we can all achieve. Sun in My Heart is a tale about people of flesh and bone and wounded souls who seek what they need and, through dark nights and dangerous tempests, find what they seek. In the end, the lovers ignite the sun in their hearts. Witnessing their victory allows a beam of that precious light to warm our own.
And while you're buying Tricia's latest, you'll find
my first novel, Where You Will Die, is available now exclusively on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.
"This philosophical mystery will captivate readers thanks to a winning cast and setting."- Kirkus Reviews
"Quirky, engaging whodunit." - Rick George, author of Sinister Refuge
"The story is beautifully written and is compelling and gratifying." - Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite