What a wonderful story, and Marcia (Dani) is a true heroine, a strong black woman beaten down by marital abuse, who builds a new life for herself with many challenges along the way.
The story starts in a harrowing way, with Marcia reeling from the latest abusive attack from her coke-addicted, wealthy husband. It has happened too many times, and now he has threatened to kill her, so she makes the decision to run away, leave her old, privileged life behind and escape to Atlantic City, where she finds work as a cocktail waitress.
Her life is very different. Gone are the designer clothes, the beautiful house and endless wealth, but she faces all the challenges with fortitude and grace. I love her because although she's been through a huge amount, and is tougher than she looks, she is warm and caring, something which could also have been rubbed away by the entitled life she led before. Marcia is REAL. She could be any one of us.
Very quickly after settling in Atlantic City, she catches the eye of a delicious bouncer who works at the club, but he is a tough guy who uses his fists to keep the clientele safe, and Marcia (now Dani) isn't sure if she should get involved with a guy like that, given what she has just escaped from.) Also, I liked the way the author acknowledges it is too soon, when Dani hasn't even been granted a divorce yet, to think about getting involved with another man, especially a potentially violent one.
So there are lots of issues for Dani to work though, but luckily, Taylor is an absolute sweetheart, and we all know, from day one, they have to be together. The question is how that is going to happen, and the story weaves and turns, throws up obstacles, gives us a terrifying reunion and an unexpectedly hopeful conclusion to one major problem. I don't want to say more without giving it away.
This is a lush love story, despite the serious themes which are dealt with deftly by the author. Dani faces her fears, and Taylor accepts and faces his fears too. This isn't just Dani's story, but the story of a man coming to terms with his past. Their growing relationship is truly lovely, with Taylor never pressuring Dani to sleep with him, or take their love to the next level, and Dani feeling gradually feeling safe with him. There are lovely side characters, my favourite being Dani's elderly neighbour, and some solid friendships forming along the way. There is enough angst to balance out the story, and mentions of difficult challenges faced by the black community and people of colour.
Is the feel-good ending a little unrealistic? Maybe, to a cynic, but I don't care. Feel-good books are what we need right now, and this accomplished story is definitely one to check out.
See also my review for A Woman's Worth by Chicki Brown
Marcia Hadley, Santa Barbara, California socialite has been married for seven years to the heir of a family fortune. He sees to it that she has the finest home, cars and clothes. Yet that isn’t enough to keep Marcia from running.
Dani Reynolds, Atlantic City nightclub cocktail waitress works on her feet seven hours a night, five days a week for less than minimum wage in a crowded, smoky nightclub. She lives in an aging, run-down apartment, rides the city bus, and she’s happier than she’s ever been.
Marcia and Dani have more in common than anyone could imagine. They are the same woman.
Only Taylor Villanova, the club’s sexy bouncer can help her reconcile her two distinct personas, face her greatest fear and discover a love greater than she’d ever imagined.