REVIEW: Hidden Hearts by Olivia Dade
AN ADMIRER WITH A SECRET . . .
Mary Higgs could be the poster girl for the buttoned-up librarian. She follows the rules. Stays ’til closing. Her kindness and dedication to her patrons is legendary. But those patrons have no idea what she’s typing to the mysterious shut-in who emailed the library needing a library card three months ago . . .
When the elusive Miles O’Connor shows up, he’s no invalid. A year ago, he was the gleaming, ab-sational star of the small screen. Then came the accident. Now he’s a wounded recluse with a pizza habit and fears so unshakable that only the thought of losing Mary to an online date could lure him out of his cabin.
Soon their email rapport has turned into weekends on the couch, watching tearjerkers and driving each other insane with red-hot makeout sessions. But as the desire grows and their horizons expand, the life that brought them together might not be enough for either of them . . .
Dear Ms. Dade,
Mary is the sweet, smart and wonderful library employee – there because of her desire to help her community – her boss says she is which is why she goes out of her way to assist a patron get a library card. Angie her supervisor needs to tone down the efforts to get Mary an online dating profile as some could view Angie’s questions as harassment – just saying. Having set up a new patron who strongly resisted coming into the library for a card or having a bookmobile visit, she sets about helping him with ebook checkouts in the beginning of an online message exchange. From Miles’s messages, it’s obvious he’s got a sense of humor which Mary responds to.
Two months of “multiple times a day” emailing and Miles realizes he needs to step up if he wants a chance to meet Mary. The men she knows might be oblivious idiots and the online dates she’s had must be oddballs but sooner or later, some man with brains and not sunk in self- imposed seclusion is going to snatch her up. Okay so, a bath is in order. Probably a hair- cut and shave. But definitely a bath and something other than boxers. And cut down on the pizza deliveries which will also decrease the healthy eating lectures he gets from the pizza delivery guy who calls Miles’s standard order “Diabetes in a Greasy Box.”
Now after getting to know each other online, they’ve got to readjust to the reality after meeting in person. Mary’s going to have to rethink her image of Miles as a bedridden invalid. Despite his nervousness about his new corporeal reality, quick glimpses of the heat and visceral appeal of his past shine through the cracks that momentarily appear. While Miles might be finally trying to meet Mary and emerge from his shell, she is quick to let him know she doesn’t appreciate him disrupting a date then refusing to have dinner with her himself. Mixed signals? No, Mary isn’t a fan. Miles knows he needs to take control of his life, fix what he can, adjust to what he can’t, take a deep breath and man up if he wants a shot at dating Mary. Will she accept him and as he is and what hasn’t told her? Because – wow –Miles has been holding out on Mary about his past job. What surprises him is that she hesitates over that and not him. How fortuitous that they finally meet when both sense they’re at a crossroads in life and ready to take some risks.
Seriously, I’m dying laughing at Eugene the gourmet pizza maker/delivery guy. He makes great pizza but he’s not going to let Miles turn into a crusthead, gluten glutton. Eugene keeps videos about heart attacks on his cellphone to show customers he thinks are sliding into pizza decrepitude. Yeah, this is a small town series. Watch out for the stuffed animals in the children’s sections of the library branches, too. I am also laughing at Mary’s friend Sarah and her bravura, all-out personality. I’m thinking I’m going to need to go back and read her book.
Mary and Miles might have thought they’d reached and maneuvered through their crossroads and gone beyond their comfort zones and reached their HEA but oh no, not by a long shot. They’ve made some steps but have a whole heaping of issues, real issues instead of “yeah, right” ones, still simmering on the burner. A small but militant hockey martinet who regularly thrashes Sam’s (See Driven to Distraction link below) team first gets all in Miles’s face about playing on a local team, refusing to cut him slack. Then Miles’s past finally catches up with him and sends him on another life changing tailspin. What will he do now? Continue his half life in Maryland with Mary or reach out for something he loved and that was deeply a part of him? After he decides what he deserves – and Mary deserves from him – what will she do? Mary’s now got to face her past demons and decide who wins – her or them?
As with “Driven to Distraction,”, these seem like real people facing fairly real conflicts. Sure Miles had money from his job but as we see him now, that’s gone leaving him without that wealth cushion to rely on. He’s got to eventually do something with his future to support himself. As he comes out of his shell, Mary is elated. As his future moves towards something that scares her, she’s now got to see what she really wants and is willing to take some risks for. I like that these conflicts don’t come out of the blue and that they scare Miles and Mary just a little. Or else they really wouldn’t be conflicting enough, right? Both of them have to think a little, reflect and see what they’re willing to try for each other, true, but also for themselves because being a martyr for the other would only lead to heartache down the road.
So yay, that Mary’s a librarian as I love librarians, their decisions about serious “not solved in a 5 minute conversation” problems are thought out, come from within, and are made thinking of themselves as well as each other. Oh and the email exchange chapter was an added bonus. Loved that too. B+