Once a Ferrara Wife... by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, and she continues to meet my expectations. In this case, she's exceeded them. Sarah has created a story of a marriage that self-destructed, and the aftermath when this couple gets reunited by a family wedding.
I really liked the fact that the characters' emotional problems aren't solved by their love for each other. In fact, they have to work them them and communicate. Honestly though, that's one of the things I love the most about Sarah's writing. Her consistently strong use of dialogue and communication between the main characters. Communication (or lack of it) was a huge factor in the breakdown of Laurel and Cristiano's marriage, and the only way they could save that marriage. Neither of them is the bad guy. The 'bad guy' is that they hadn't developed a strong bond of communication the first time around.
Cristiano really does let down Laurel, but she could have handled the situation better. And both characters realize their faults and own up to them. But it takes some hard emotional moments and confrontations. Not to mention putting oneself out there for possible hurt, and a willingness to trust someone else.
I loved Cristiano. At first I did think he was being mean to Laurel. However, I could see his meanness was out of a broken heart. Similarly, I really felt for and admired Laurel. My heart was aching for the pain she suffered as a child and the way it had caused her to erect thick emotional walls and self-defense mechanisms that eventually lead to unhealthy emotional behavior as an adult. I tend to be self-protective like she is, so I could see the hallmarks of her behavior. I was so glad that Cristiano was willing to be a man and take her harsh but deserved criticisms on the chin. My respect of him went up a thousand notches just seeing how he truly makes amends to Laurel and is willing to move mountains to win her back. At the same time, I didn't feel like Laurel was being deliberately cruel. She was hurting bad and what Cristiano did (even through ignorance) was devastating to her. In some ways, Laurel had not developed as a mature woman emotionally, and that was a huge part of the reason their marriage self-destructed.
While I don't feel I am qualified as a marriage expert, I stand by the belief that commitment to honest and communication in a marriage is crucial, and I was very appreciative about how the author wrote this book. It's a very meaningful romantic story about an emotional journey between a married couple who loved each other deeply, but didn't understand each other well enough to keep it together the first time. While reunited estranged married couple romance will never be my favorite, I think that Sarah knocked it out of the park with this book. I am growing more stingy about five stars lately, but I can't help but give this book that rating. It's well-deserved. Bravo!
PS: I am glad to say that neither character was unfaithful to each other while they were apart. I absolutely hate that!!!
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