Title: The Life She Chooses (Granite Springs #2)
Author: Maggie Christensen
Published: December 9th 2019
Publisher: Cala Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Two families. Two troubled pasts. Can they find a future together?
Following the loss of her husband and the devastating accusations surrounding his death, Kay Jackson has experienced the icy chill of alienation from the close-knit town of Granite Springs. Thrust into the position of personal assistant to a professor at the local university, Kay, who prefers to stay in the background away from the town gossips, is unsure how she will cope.
When Nick Kerr’s wife leaves him for a younger man, the professor is left nursing a broken heart while struggling to adapt to life as a single parent of two teens. Reeling from the indignity of his wife’s actions, Nick has no intention of putting himself in such a vulnerable position again.
However, as Kay and Nick’s professional relationship develops, they find themselves drawn to each other. As their friendship begins to morph into something more, Kay’s daughter arrives in town intent on controlling her mother’s life. The combined actions of Kay’s daughter and Nick’s children reinforces the many doubts the couple have on embarking on a new relationship.
Is there a future for Kay and Nick or will their families destroy any chance of happiness?
‘Kay wondered if what they all imagined was possible. Could she really find love again?’
The Life She Chooses signals a return visit to the pleasant Australian country township of Granite Springs. Maggie Christensen’s second novel in this appealing series welcomes a new couple, Nick and Kay, who take some tentative steps towards newfound love. The Life She Chooses is a strong women’s fiction title, with a distinct Australian flavour.
When two individuals, from two very different families are united through their employment and attraction to one another, they negotiate a path to happiness that is marred by past hurts, trust issues and family conflicts. Kay is a mature aged woman, in a great deal of emotional pain following the shattering disclosure made about her husband, prior to his death. Since her husband’s passing, Kay has locked herself away from the world, she has been too afraid to face the harsh reality of her husband’s past. In a small town like Granite Springs, accusations such as those attached to Kay’s husband are not forgotten in a hurry. However, a position a local university provides Kay with the boost of confidence she needs to face the world again. In Nick, her new boss, Kay feels she is not being judged for the first time in a long time. Eventually, these two form a close bond. Nick is man who dealing with the impact of a marriage built on lies. He is now a single parent to two teenagers, complicating his life further. With neither party willing to commit from the onset to a new relationship, it seems both are destined to be single. However, a successful working partnership between Kay and Nick begins to morph into something much more. As the two consider the possibility of letting love into their lives again, the pressures of family life threaten this fresh new relationship. The Life She Chooses considers the difficulties in taking a chance on a second chance style relationship, when outside influences bear down on a mature aged couple.
It was a nice feeling to reconvene with the town and folk of Granite Springs, which is brought to life by the penmanship of Maggie Christensen. Drawing on her own unique blend of mature age second chance love stories, family conflicts and life’s challenges, Christensen gifts her audience with another engaging chapter in the Granite Springs series.
The shocking prologue, which outlines a devastating allegation and a life shattering accident, immediately draws the reader in to this new Granite Springs tale. Once I got over the moving introduction, I settled into Kay and Nick’s journey. Initially, Kay was a difficult character. She seemed standoffish and distanced. I think this is a direct result of what she had to deal with, after years of marriage her husband dies, after taking his own life, following a series of child abuse allegations. I’m not sure how I would deal with this situation myself. Christensen certainly does a good job of exploring the feelings and responses of a woman working through some tough terrain. We learn that Kay has distanced herself and locked herself away from the world. She feels shame and she has accepted the blame somewhat for her husband’s actions. Things light up for Kay when she gains employment at a local university and the tides, as well as the plot changes.
Nick is the leading male protagonist of this tale. I did feel a great deal of pity for Nick. His ex sounded pretty nasty and underhanded. I’m sure readers who have been through the pain of separation and estrangement after spouse has found a younger partner, will be able to relate. Nick’s predicament is universal to say the least, and it is further complicated by his parenting situation. He is the single parent of two teens, which also brings about its own set of challenges. When Nick connects with Kay in their employment base, things change. A friendship is formed, and eventually this blossoms into love. Christensen’s romances are always clean and authentic, which I appreciate.
The Life She Chooses provides the scope for Christensen to explore a number of resounding themes within her unfolding plot. There is a strong focus on guilt, blame, estrangement, isolation, trust, relationships, infidelity, parenting, family support and working relationships within this involving novel.
This is my second visit to Granite Springs and again I was taken by the quaint small town beauty of this country area. Christensen supplies her readers with plenty of descriptive passages dedicated to showcasing the attractiveness of rural Australia. I know I lapped up this aspect.
At its very core, The Life She Chooses is a realistic women’s fiction title, that delves into the nitty gritty details of family life and the grassroots issues that impact mature second chance style relationships. The restorative nature of mature age love will be sure to charm fans of Christensen’s work, along with a greater readership.
The Life She Chooses by Maggie Christensen was published on December 9th 2019 by Cala Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
For more information on Maggie Christensen, check out her website here.
*I wish to thank the author, Maggie Christensen, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Life She Chooses is book #14 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge