Love’s Bounty – Yolanda Wallace (Bold Strokes Books)

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The prolific Lambda Literary Award winning Yolanda Wallace strikes again, this time using coastal Maine as the backdrop for romance. Like her fellow Bold Strokes authors Carsen Taite, D. Jackson Leigh, Cari Hunter, and others, she proves herself most capable and reliable, coming up with fully-realized characters, interesting conflicts, and nicely-turned plot elements.

Ashley (Shy) Silva needs to get out of South Boston for her own good, so her uncle sends her to Portland, Maine to work on a lobster boat captained by lovely Jake Myers. Jake takes a chance on the “greenhorn,” finding her surprisingly responsible and eager to learn. She also finds Shy attractive, and the feeling is definitely mutual. Shy has her own reasons for not wanting to get romantically involved, but Jake has a few deep, dark secrets of her own. Can they both get past their pasts and concentrate on building something for the future?

Since this is a romance, I think we all know the answer to that one, but Wallace puts enough obstacles in the way to keep you guessing until the very last. And far from being contrived, the difficulties spring very naturally from their characters and situations. In particular, I found the origin of Jake’s PTSD timely and logically motivated. However, Shy’s unwillingness to let go of her family’s dictum not to date outside her ancestry is also compelling.

Shy’s additional problem is an inability to let go of Lucy, her old “girlfriend” from South Boston. Some of the best scenes of the book are the awkward ones when Lucy comes to visit Shy in her new surroundings and tries to erase any gains Shy has made by being away from bad friends and worse habits. You know right from jump this girl is a problem, and she proves that in spades.

Wallace, in fact, builds her characters with such comfort and ease that you feel as if you know them within only a few paragraphs. She has a terrific eye for detail and a style that is unpretentious and uncomplicated, yet strikes all emotional chords–the hallmarks of a true pro. And she brings together all the elements for an immensely satisfying conclusion.

Love’s Bounty is the first Yolanda Wallace book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last.

© 2015 Jerry L. Wheeler


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