Two heroines, Clare Martin and Cornelia Brown, discover the power of friendship and the meaning of love in this remarkable tale.
De los Santos crafts two irresistible characters in her debut novel. First we meet Cornelia, a hopeless romantic, addicted to classic films in which dashing men like Carey Grant bedazzle glamorous leading ladies like Grace Kelly. Cornelia is a 30-something underachiever whiling her time away as the manager of a Philadelphia coffee shop. While she neglects her interior life, Cornelia keeps her intellect sharp by engaging in clever repartee with the eccentrics who patronize Café Dora. But everything changes when Martin Grace strolls through the café’s door. Martin is matinee-idol perfect—the witty banter, the impeccable clothes, the air of mystery. Cornelia is hooked. The relationship whizzes along, bringing Cornelia an offer of marriage. But before she gets to live happily ever after, Cornelia delves deeper into her feelings for Martin. Is she willing to settle for a safe and reliable relationship with a weak physical and emotional connection? Maybe chemistry only exists on movie screens and sparks don’t fly for mere mortals. As Cornelia struggles to find her romantic bearings, our other heroine is facing tragedy. Clare, a tenderhearted pre-teen, is devastated when her mother experiences a mental breakdown and abandons Clare during the holidays. Through serendipity, Clare and Cornelia cross paths at the cafe, and the author deftly interweaves their stories. These two fragile souls instinctively cling to one another and share their dreams. Clare longs for a safe and secure home life and a reunion with her mother; Cornelia hopes to create a family of her own and find love. De los Santos’s writing engages throughout this powerful story. It’s impossible not to cheer for these characters as they search for happiness.
A timeless gem.