Author: JoAnn Carter
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Purchase Link: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok
Lilly Holland is doing fine running her own business, a flower shop and enjoys bringing the beauty of flowers to peoples’ lives. An unexpected phone call throws a monkey wrench into her plans and she goes back home to her family’s lodge in the small town of Paradox. Her character is engaging and draws the reader into her story and you can’t wait to find out what happens with the family crisis and ensuing romance with Ric Walker, the lodge’s groundskeeper.
I must confess that I don’t usually read novellas but as soon as I got immersed into Paradox, JoAnn Carter got me hooked on the sweet romantic story between Lilly and Ric. It was a fast read, but that did not detract from the detailed telling of this tale of healing and hope in God. Ms. Carter creates interesting characters that have depth and are very real—you believe every word she writes and you live the story with the characters.
For such a short book, this novella seemed like a full-fledged novel. When reading shorter works of fiction it’s more difficult to combine detailed story-telling and character development within the confines of the limited word length. However, Ms. Carter has succeeded with flying colors. I read through this story quickly, but came away from it, feeling as if I read a full-length novel, fully satisfied with this wonderful tale. I highly recommend Paradox. You won’t be disappointed with this one.
Ric peered at Lilly out of the corner of his eye, which was nothing new. In fact, since she first walked through the police station door, he couldn't seem to stop watching her. How different she seemed from what he remembered. Although he had only met her a few months before she graduated school and left, he thought about her from time to time throughout the years. Her personality reminded him of a painter's palate with all different colors. Once the artist set to work, they would somehow blend to make something beautiful on the canvas, but for now, it was hard to see what kind of picture would be made. One part of Lilly had been fun and exuberant, yet another part of her seemed tempered by a kind sadness that lurked in the depth of her eyes. She had moved with grace and poise, yet with the quick, flightiness of girlhood spontaneity. She walked with a sense of confidence and yet of uncertainty.
It had often made him wonder what made her tick and what kind of woman she grew into. Now that he saw her, he was even more intrigued. Granted, Lilly had been a beauty even in high school, but now, she was more than that. She was different somehow. He couldn't put his finger on it, but it made him all the more curious. Why hadn't she returned to the lodge on her summer school breaks or once she graduated from college?
"So I heard from your folks that your business is doing well."
For a fleeting moment, she looked surprised, but then shrugged. "I'm just doing what I love. It feels more like a ministry to folks than a business most of the time." Her face lit up as she spoke. "There's nothing like watching the expression of someone who received an arrangement that I crafted for them -- now that's true beauty." Lilly lowered her gaze and looked up at him through her long lashes. "Sorry. Sometimes I get a bit carried away when I talk about my flowers."
"Don't be sorry. I think it's refreshing. Besides," Ric leaned forward and took off his coat, "It says a lot about you."
He nodded. "I give you credit for following your heart. I'm sure running a shop can be challenging, but I guess you learned all about that from living at the lodge."
Lilly chin snapped up. Her reply was quick and decisive. "Oh, my flower shop isn't anything at all like the lodge."
He tilted his head and wondered what caused the apparent chip on her shoulder. Cautiously he said, "I don't think the lodge is such a bad place. In fact, I like it there."
Lilly smiled a guileless smile. "I'm glad."
Interesting, so whatever is bothering Lilly wasn't the lodge itself. Then what was it, Ric wondered?
"Speaking of the lodge," She crossed one thin ankle over the other. "I'm kind of surprised you're still working there. I thought this job was just a interim kind of thing."
He rubbed his fingers against his five o'clock shadow. "Yep, that's how it started out anyway. I thought I'd only be here for a season, but then before I knew it turned into a year and then two until..." He shrugged, "Here we are now."
"Why?" Lilly's brow puckered in confusion. "Don't you miss your carpentry work? I heard you were very good."
He was amazed at how much her praise mattered. To cover his own reaction he teased, "Were? I beg your pardon." He chuckled when her cheeks grew pink. "I'm just fooling around. Besides, believe me, I get plenty of opportunities to use my skills around the lodge."
If that were the only reason he decided to stay on at the lodge, life would be so much better, but it wasn't. He lowered his voice. "My mother's health is not good. In fact, she's getting worse every day." He took a deep breath. "It's cancer."
Lilly's green eyes darkened to emerald, "I'm sorry."
Thankfully, she didn't ask for details. As it was, he was just holding himself together, which was strange. Usually, this wasn't something he would talk about in the first place. And if he did, he made sure his feelings never got the better of him. But the look of compassion in her eyes was doing odd things to his sense of equilibrium. Granted, she may be a foot smaller than he was and not much more that a hundred pounds soaking wet, but there was a strength about her that reminded him of his mother, a strength that can only be acquired by walking through the Refiner's fire. He swallowed hard and in a matter-of-fact tone said, "Unfortunately, the medical bills are more than my father can handle on his own. Working at the lodge is a stable, good job." He winked and tried to lighten things up a bit. "Besides, like I said, I like what I'm doing."
"Does your family live nearby then?"
"Yep, only about a half-hour away."
Lilly nodded. A few blond highlights in her light brown hair caught the light just right reminding him of sun glistening on water. She placed her lower lip between her teeth for a moment as if she wanted to say something, but held back. Finally, she said, "I'm glad you're so close to your family."
"I couldn't imagine it any other way."