March 05, 2016



By Mutual Consent

 

Author: Tracey Richardson

Genre: Romance

Published by: Bella Books

January, 2016; 259 pages

ISBN: 9781594934759, Softcover

ISBN: 9781594934759e, eBook

 

It all began with two people in need—and an agreement—innocent enough, just a little something to give mutual aid, but, oh, the complications. Joss McNab is a renowned cardiac surgeon who follows in her deceased father’s footsteps—and he has left behind big shoes to fill. Sarah Young struggles just to pay her rent so she can keep working at her art and hoping for that big break to come so she won’t have to rely on her begrudging father’s support.

 

Joss and Sarah would probably never meet were it not for the other two women in their lives, Joss’ mother, Madeline, and Sarah’s stepmother, Linda. The two matrons are friends who plot together to help each of their daughters with their needs out of concern and care for them. Sarah and Joss, however, don’t see their actions that way.

 

With introductions to the characters completed in the opening pages of By Mutual Consent, Sarah becomes the first to acquiesce to Madeline and Linda’s plan and shows up at a birthday soiree Joss attends out of obligation. Joss is far from an extrovert and hates gatherings like this one. Sarah breezes in and takes control of the situation and rescues Joss from the uncomfortable situation. After some hesitation, Joss is forced to admit that having Sarah as a “trophy wife” has its advantages and the two strike up the bargain their mothers intended.

 

Joss, ever the heroic figure, fights against her growing attraction to Sarah. Sarah, more the Mother Earth character, is quicker to acknowledge the sensual and sexual tension between them. However, their “agreement” doesn’t include allowing these two women to give in to their desires and this causes nothing but trouble in the relationship. In addition, family has contributed to Joss and Sarah’s flaws, which adds to their difficulties. Joss still battles with her distress over the distant father she never felt acknowledged her. Sarah’s father has never been able to appreciate her talent or her drive to be creative. All these circumstances give new meaning to the phrase “it’s complicated” as the women embark on the push and pull of their relationship full of sexual tension and deep frustration. After bouts of angst and disappointment, the prose turns lyrical with phrases like, “[she] was…forever tattooed on her heart….” Even in the most tragic moments, portrayals of pain have a beauty to them with “…her voice sharp as broken glass," giving us insights into the main characters’ deeply felt emotions.

 

In her supporting role, Joss’ mother is almost annoying with her tight-lipped refusal to share information about Joss’ father, but in the end, we realize that her silence might just be justified. Both “rich lady” mothers are portrayed with unique characteristics of their own, yet their similar, gently meddling personalities work well in the story without overpowering Joss and Sarah’s tale as they work against any notions of success. The subplot of an ailing child who needs a heart transplant serves the story well and presents unique opportunities for the main characters to interact and move forward in the story.

 

The story contains a couple of point of view and passive voice missteps along the way, but, overall, Richardson gives us masterful moments of exquisite sensuality counterbalanced with frustrating silence or miscommunication from these characters to create heated tension. Throughout this tale, the main characters are compelling and the narrative is filled with passion and poetry. The reader is sure to delight in the spark and sizzle of this tantalizing story.


Anna Furtado
is a book reviewer and author. Her published novels are available from Bella Books and on Amazon and at other bookstores online, as well as at other independent bookstores. To find out more about Anna and her writing, please click here

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Copyright 2016