Friday, August 12, 2011

A Place To Rest by Erin Dutton

Publisher:                  Bold Strokes Books

A Place to Rest is the story of two women and their contrasting experiences with family. One has a family she rebels against and the other has no family and feels the loss keenly.

Sawyer Drake is like a rudderless ship. She drifts from job to job, woman to woman, never satisfied with what she has, but unable to determine what it is she wants. She knows that she doesn't want to work in the family restaurant, but she doesn't have much choice for a while. Her sister Erica is having a difficult pregnancy, so Sawyer puts a halt to her rambling and helps her brother Brady run the business. There she meets pastry chef Jori Diamantina, a woman who has a long history in foster homes and of being on her own. Sawyer is used to making conquests, but Jori isn't interested. She's been hurt too much in her life to take a chance on Sawyer, plus she doesn't want to lose a job she really likes when the relationship falls apart, which she's sure it will do.

Each woman represents what the other fears the most. For Sawyer, Jori represents permanence, settling down, accepting responsibility, things she has always tried to avoid. For Jori, Sawyer offers the possibility of permanence and a family that can be yanked away in a moment when Sawyer's restlessness pushes her to move on. The question is if the women can find a relationship that provides what each of them needs.

Erin Dutton has written a novel that is about family dynamics as much as anything. Sawyer represents the child who has never lived up to the family's expectations. The battle that goes on between Erica and Sawyer will feel familiar to many. Sawyer has failed so many times that no one expects her to succeed, least of all Erica. Erica's attitude towards her sister is almost painful to read, yet also understandable. How do you rely on someone who has never been reliable? Jori's story is as difficult, coming from a shattered family and abusive foster homes. The reader wants to say to her that it is OK to trust other people, that not everyone will fail her.

Dutton captures the emotions of all three of these women very well and engages the reader in the process of hoping that each one is able to overcome her attitudes. Then she surrounds them with secondary characters that fill out the story. The reader gets a chance to think about both what family members can do to each other and what the lack of family means to a person who hasn't had one.
A Place to Rest is listed as a romance, but it goes beyond that and should provide a satisfactory reading experience.

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