Karen is a young widow, still mourning her husband ten months after his death. Financial difficulties force her to work long hours at a job she hates. The one bright spot in her life is her little daughter, Cindi.
One morning, Karen decides to pick herself up and start again. The first step is to go back to college. If she finishes her degree, she can have the career she wants, as a teacher of French. The problem is: she can’t afford to take time off, unless she finds a cheaper place to live. A solution arrives in the form of her old friend, Jim. He’s on a tight budget, too, and he needs someone to share his apartment. Karen foresees difficulties, if she moves in with a man. Jim, though, reassures her. There’s no chemistry, no spark. It should be easy to live together as “just friends.”
Thinking matters over, Karen agrees. After all, Jim is the kind of man she calls a “Mr Nice Guy”—good-natured and funny, but not physically attractive.
Soon she and her daughter have settled in. Life is pleasant, but dull, until the employment agency calls with an ideal assignment: six days at a legal conference in Venice. In that dream-like city, she meets Mark Lebrun, a man she sees as a fairy-tale prince. Handsome and rich, he makes life easy for Karen. Unfortunately, her friend, Manon, dislikes him. And Karen herself begins to notice flaws in his character. But she confronts Mark and he promises to change.
In the meantime, Jim has been dating Manon. She encourages him to lose weight and work out at the gym. Soon women begin to notice him. And Karen is one of them.
As problems worsen with Mark, she wonders: has she been looking for love in the wrong place? And when she decides what she really wants, will it be too late?
- Laura Jane Leigh, April 2013
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