RETURN TO ME – Kelly Moran
A Covington Cove Novel , Book 1
Wilmington, South Carolina
Ten years ago as teenagers, Cole Covington and Mia Galdon forged an unlikely friendship. Cole was from an upper class, socially prestigious family; Mia's mother was an alcoholic maid at the Covington summer home. He faulted himself that everything ended so badly.
Despite his parents' objections, Cole joined the army. Lying wounded in the sands of Iraq, Cole realizes the Humvee he had ridden in was a fiery wreck. An IED destroyed it. His fellow soldiers lay dead near him. With waning strength, he pulls a photo from a pocket. All he wants is to look at Mia one more time before he dies.
Since the night Cole cast her off, Mia has worked hard. She held two jobs while earning her nursing degree, and during all this time, she has raised her Down's syndrome afflicted sister Ginny. Currently she is out of work and desperately needs money to keep Ginny in her special school. She receives a message from Cole's sister Lacey Covington and reluctantly meets with her former friend. Just as reluctantly, she agrees to act as private nurse to Cole after Lacey promises to assure Ginny's security. Cole has immured himself at the home on Covington Bay where they had spent so many summers together. Now he owns it. Once at the beachfront property, Mia learns Cole stays in the upstairs bedroom. He suffers from PTSD, violent nightmares, and physical disabilities, ignoring his family and everything else. While the sight of Mia pleases him, guilt plagues him. Problems in the present along with those from the past create emotional turmoil.
Readers will enjoy the emotional and sensual tension Cole and Mia create upon meeting again. Both have changed from their teenage personas due to the hardships endured during the past ten years. Flashback scenes show what happened in those yearly years, exposing the dysfunctional family dynamics of both the socially elite and the dirt-poor family. Those influences are still in play. Yet, friendships with other key players like Lacey, Ginny, and Rose, the Covington housekeeper, support the main characters and help forge a different view for the future. The characters and their motivations create dynamic, believable individuals. While the setting is beautifully at odds to the personal drama occurring, it also serves as culminating turbulence to the emotional theater. These elements earn RETURN TO ME a Perfect 10.