Author: Rhoda Baxter
Please Release Me is Rhoda Baxter’s fourth novel and the first I have read. The premise was intriguing enough for me to want to pick it up.
But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …
The book opens on Sally’s wedding day, minutes after she’s become Mrs Peter Wesley and they were having their wedding photos taken. We get an insight that all is not as it seems when there is a clandestine bathroom meeting between the blushing bride and an older woman she would rather no-one else saw, and a gift exchange.
The gift becomes a bone of contention between the happy couple as they set off for their honeymoon, and ends up causing a car accident.
Chapter Two starts ten months later with a comatose Sally in a reputable hospice, her new groom is not so new anymore but still devoted and loyal. He visits every day to sit with her, and read to her or talk to her, not knowing whether she can hear him and just waiting for a sign or something to change so that he has some idea whether his wife will ever come back to him.
Peter meets Grace in the elevator one day as she is heading up to pay her daily visit to Margaret before attending a meeting about the common room. Grace comes in every day to visit with one of the elderly patients on a different floor. About this time we discover that Sally is becoming more aware, she remembers the crash but that’s about it. She hears bits and pieces of what’s going on and becomes aware of what’s going on around her though she still can’t wake up.
Peter and Grace are both feeling a little stalled in their lives and are advised to shake things up a little and do something. Grace invites Peter to help with the redecoration, he declines but after some time to think about it arrives on the weekend to help. Peter begins to make new friends and spend time with the redecorating committee, one of them being Grace.
A freak lightning strike jolts Sally from her body and we have an interesting situation where the only person who can see the soul of Sally is Grace, a woman developing feelings for Peter.
This is certainly a unique situation and Baxter explores it with wit and candour. We get a much clearer picture of the person Sally was/is and it’s not always a pretty picture. She didn’t exactly have it easy growing up and she left home at just sixteen, determined to make her future all the things she missed in her past.
Sally may be a tragic comatose heroine but she is still very definitely the main character in this contemporary paranormal romance. She is strong willed and determined right to the very end though I am left with a couple of questions.
Baxter takes an insightful look at hospice care and the difference to hospitals, they are much longer term and the relationships that form between staff, patients and carers are different.
The premise certainly grabbed me and the characters were quite three dimensional, if not always likeable, but there was something missing for me. I enjoyed the story but it didn’t completely capture me the way I would have liked.
Scene changes were abrupt and without warning which I did find a little hard to follow at times, they didn’t make the story disjointed but they certainly affected the flow.
Please Release Me is an interesting read, exploring unconventional story arcs and characters who aren’t all they pretend to be.
Please Release Me is available from Choc Lit and where all good ebooks are sold.