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  • Writer's pictureCraig Allen Heath

The Strength of Healed Places

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Review of Handfast, and the Sara Browne Trilogy, by Tricia LaRochelle

With the release of Handfast, author Tricia LaRochelle caps off a fine chapter in her protagonists’ story, completing one arc of the romance between Sara Browne and Scott Williams while keeping the door open for more adventures. What strikes as the most important feature of this trilogy is the Sara we see in the third book - a woman broken in many places over the years but who is now stronger in those broken places. Her experience, her strong will and the love she shares with Scott have repaired her at the broken seams with the cement of growth and wisdom.

Kintsugi is a traditional art form in Japan in which the artist repairs broken pottery with seams of gold lacquer. The result is a valued piece not thrown out as shattered and useless, but stronger and more beautiful than before. Rather than hide the repairs, trying to make the piece look new, the art highlights the broken places, making them a beautiful aspect of the piece as a whole. It celebrates the idea that the difficulties and even tragedies of life can result in a unique and treasured artifact.

Over the course of the trilogy, Sara travels the path of such a broken, then repaired, cup. In the first, Flickering Heart, we learn of the young woman wounded since childhood, shattered by the death of her parents, but with the love of family makes the bold move to start college away from home. Coming out of her shell and making friends, then finding and falling in love with Scott, helps her begin the healing process, but her sensitivity to suffering and Scott's issues with anger make their early travels difficult.

As I wrote then, it is Sara's own self-image that keeps her from truly healing, and when a greater tragedy strikes, she is almost wounded beyond repair.

In the follow on, Revive, Sara begins to take her need to grow and thrive seriously. She engages a therapist and strives to find her own strength in her love with Scott, learning how to not knuckle under when he becomes domineering. As she is making progress, a new shocking threat to her life and sanity nearly leaves her incapacitated. But again, she does not surrender, even though she often tells herself she should. The events, her responses to them, and the constancy from Scott and family all lend their help to her journey toward wholeness.

At every turn, Sara is gifted with people and experiences that teach her how to turn those difficulties into valuable lessons. She begins applying those lessons, like golden glue cementing her broken pieces together.

By the third book, Handfast, we see that repaired cup in all its mended beauty. She and Scott have finished school and are planning to marry, and when difficulties arise, Sara is the strongest person in the room. She navigates frightening reminders of past trauma, current family troubles and even the near loss of her beloved Scott with poise, strength and wisdom. Even facing life-and-death decisions, Sara's once broken cup is fully repaired, and can carry anything needed in the moment.

The trilogy is a completed story arc that is a thrilling, frightening and utterly satisfying read. I'm sure Tricia LaRochelle has many more adventures in mind for her resilient lovers, but for now I've been happy to come full circle with Sara on that journey we all face - healing our broken places to become stronger than when first fired in the potter's kiln.


Blatant Self-Promotion Section

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

"An enjoyable ride with a satisfying end." - Helen Reynolds, Reedsy Discovery


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Aug 30, 2023

Wow, I am not only speechless, I'm teary. This is the most amazing review of all time. I am awestruck. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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