Polanco’s (The Acquisition, 2016) sentimental melodrama follows bereaved mother Kate Connor and her unexpected relationship with the man involved in her son’s death.
After Kate recovers physically from a car accident that killed her son, Oliver, in New York, she retreats to Japan. Soon she receives a remorseful letter from Rey Aguilar, the man driving the car that killed Oliver. Rey is a Grammy-winning saxophonist and longtime bachelor who wants to donate money to a charity in Oliver’s name. Kate forgives Rey for his role in Oliver’s death, and they become pen pals, though Rey wants more. Kate simultaneously fields advances from Trevor Miles, a wealthy businessman. When Rey and Kate reunite in New York, their relationship deepens. Kate accepts a manager position at the Trevor Miles Gallery in New York, but her interactions with Miles turn problematic. After returning alone to Japan, Kate grapples with a life-altering circumstance. Back in New York, she tries to track down Rey, but he, too, has left the country believing her heart belongs to Trevor. Polanco certainly has a unique plot and demonstrates solid scene-setting: “Frustrated tourists huddled in cafés and tapas bars in an effort to be light and jovial as the rain-washed away their hopes of a sun-drenched holiday.” She also adequately captures a woman emerging from grief (Kate “no longer felt like a dead leaf floating in the air”). And telling the story from multiple third-person perspectives makes for a well-rounded account of events. But Polanco’s similes are weak, such as “her hair was like a waterfall of milk chocolate” or saying Kate felt “like Cinderella arriving at the ball.” Some readers may appreciate the saccharine nature of Kate and Rey’s interactions, but others will find sentiments like “he saw passion in her eyes and she raw emotion in his” as trite.
An uneven romance that is equal parts soap opera and modern fairytale.