REVIEW: Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick
Moonstone for empathy. Azurite for memories. Lapis lazuli for truth… In the quiet village of Noon Sun, Benedict Stone has settled into a complacent and predictable routine. Business at his jewelry shop has dried up; his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump start…
And then a surprise arrives at his door.
Gemma is Benedict’s audacious teenage niece—the daughter of his estranged brother, Charlie. The two Stone brothers had a falling out and haven’t spoken in almost two decades, since Charlie left for America. Reckless and stubborn, Gemma invites herself into Benedict’s world and turns his orderly life upside down. But she might just be exactly what he needs to get his life back on track…
Dear Ms. Patrick,
I confess it was the excerpt that enticed me into reading this book. Gemma is quirky and Benedict is befuddled. It’s clear that she’s about to turn his world upside down like a child picking up a snow globe.
There are Meanings right from the beginning with Benedict’s last name. His family trade is jewelry but he’s shunned stones of any type in favor of plain metals. Dealing with gemstones has been too hard for him all because of the past pain of losing his parents and then his brother – all of whom he associates with the gemstones his parents worked with and died obtaining and his brother for reasons that are explained as the book goes on.
Benedict currently lives a regimented, rather dull life in his old family house and works in his gray jewelry store, making silver jewelry. I adore the elegant cat Benedict’s assistant caters to with the name of Lord Puss who swanks around a lot. I have four Persians who also swank around a lot and acknowledge me when it suits them so I relate. Benedict’s untidy, older house of course seems a metaphor for his life which is disordered due to his estrangement from his beloved wife, Estelle. His various “colors of gray” store which has no brightness equals his “stuck in a rut” professional life. Benedict isn’t a boat rocker and prefers to just wait to see if he can reconcile with his wife rather than make any waves in life. He’s nice but dull.
That was fine with Estelle who loves him as he is until their disappointment over their childlessness swamped Benedict into desperately grasping for any possibility for children who to him equal the lost family of his youth. He can’t see why Estelle had to leave for breathing space. After a while though, the reader can.
Stunned when a niece he never knew about turns up on his doorstep, Benedict’s feelings of responsibility kick in as they did when he had to raise his younger brother. Soon he can tell Gemma has inherited her father’s need to break out and push away anything she sees or feels as restricting. Of course conflicts ensue.
But Gemma shakes things up. She pushes Benedict but retreats when questioned about her life. She nudges along happy results for the various villagers who conveniently show up in Benedict’s life – all with their own problems and issues. Using her grandfather’s gemstone journal which lists the properties of various stones, she plucks the perfect one for each person’s need and gooses Benedict’s own interest in his almost lost art of jewelry design. Soon things seem to be swimming along for most everyone.
Benedict knows something still isn’t “right” in Gemma being there but due to his nature and hers, he doesn’t push. The outcome is easy to see headed their way. With Gemma’s encouragement, Benedict starts to try to woo Estelle back with expected misfires and misunderstandings. He and Estelle talk but still not about the important things. But Benedict starts to get a clue as he sees Estelle’s new life and artistic career flourish. What about what Gemma’s obviously hiding from Benedict? When will that blow up? Is there hope for Benedict to get his life sorted, his marriage issues resolved and finally deal with his past family issues.
This is a nice, gentle story in which the main conflict is internal for Benedict. Yes, Gemma does have her issues too but as we see later on, she’s had those for a while and when all is over, they seem fairly easy to smooth out and work through. It’s Benedict who’s the main fixer-upper. He does change, he does grow, deal with his past and move forward and in the end, I think he finally gets it. Watching him though felt like boxes being checked off as he moves through the stages of change personally and professionally. I could see most everything on its way towards me. There were no surprises and nice though the read is, it wasn’t really riveting or nail biting. It’s sweet but like most sugar, the effect will soon fade from memory. C+