Thursday, August 18, 2011

Learning to Trust by J. Y. Morgan

Publisher:              Regal Crest Enterprises

How often do you put yourself out there and trust that someone will not hurt you? How much hurt is acceptable before you finally say enough is enough, never again? When is it OK to decide that living your life alone and not trusting someone else with your emotions is the way you should go? That is the premise at the heart of Learning to Trust.

Jace Xanthos is a highly respected college administrator, but her private life isn't very successful. Though she has close friends, Jace has never allowed herself to become involved with anyone romantically. She claims it's because she's been busy building a career, but the truth goes back to her childhood and the cruelest of possible rejections. Jace has taught herself that the best way to keep from being hurt emotionally is to just not trust anyone.

Taryn Murphy, the new graduate assistant, has been hurt also, but she buries her feelings in superficial relationships and anger. They are brought together by Taryn's aunt who is Jace's best friend and assistant, so they can't help but find their personal and professional lives start to entwine. As they interact with Anne's family, they discover a mutual attraction, which it appears that neither of them wants nor believes in. They are crippled in their interactions because each one refuses to believe what the other one says or does. When people cannot trust, it's easy to misunderstand situations and this is a problem between Jace and Taryn. They battle constantly to find common ground for a professional relationship, a friendship and maybe, if they can finally open up to each other, something more.

Morgan has crafted a story about two women who are struggling. She creates realistic situations and has her characters respond in ways that most people can relate to. She lets her story build and isn't afraid to cast her characters in a negative light at times. Even good people don't always behave properly, that's life, and they have to figure out how to clean up the messes that they've made.

Morgan lets her story unfold gradually. Jace and Taryn don't have an immediate friendship. That would be difficult when the first time Jace encounters Taryn she hears herself described in a phone conversation as the "old dragon." How many readers have been on the receiving end of just such a situation where the other person doesn't know they've been heard? Or worse yet, how many have said something like this only to suddenly be confronted by the person they were talking about? Knowing how the situation was dealt with will cause the reader to understand what happens between these two and draws the reader into the story. At times it is easy to become exasperated with both of them, but again it's that realistic touch that makes this story worth reading. Not everything is perfect in the book. Jace has a surprising secret that is somewhat improbable, but acceptable. For the most part however, these characters feel genuine and so does how they respond to each other.

Learning to Trust is a book that most people can relate to. They've been there.

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