Title: Love for Two Lifetimes
Author: Martina Boone
Genre: Coming of Age / Young Adult
Two generations, two great loves, one devastating lie . . .
When Izzy unexpectedly loses her mother in a car accident, her world shatters. Their relationship has always been so close that Izzy can’t imagine life without her. Nor can she begin to understand when she finds a secret box of love letters that her mother wrote but never sent. The idea of her mother hiding such intense feelings for more than twenty years without so much as a hint makes Izzy question everything she thought she knew–including the identity of her father.
Following a trail of clues overseas, Izzy steps into a world of glamour and English royalty, one which years ago forced her mother to choose between her obligation to her musical gift and her lover’s obligations to his family, title, and estate. It’s a world of secrets and masquerades, of heartache and betrayal. And in the midst of this world, Izzy finds a young man who feels as broken as she does herself. The two are drawn to each other–only to find that their parents’ lies may present an insurmountable obstacle between them.
Thrown together on a coming of age journey of discovery that spans two lifetimes and takes them from a grand estate in the Cotswolds to a hospital bedside in India and ultimately to the Taj Mahal, Izzy and Malcolm try desperately not to fall in love. But some things are impossible…
And some loves are worth any sacrifice…
Uplifting, funny, tragic, and unforgettably, luminously romantic, Love for Two Lifetimes is a tale of two generations of love, a lifetime of friendship, a history of sacrifice, and one last, heartbreaking and hopeful choice revealed in prose, texts, and love letters. Written for young adults and grown-up romantics, if you love the romance of the royal weddings or any story by Nicholas Sparks, Love for Two Lifetimes will have you turning pages late into the night.
“Heartwarming, lyrical, soulful, and with just the right amount of humor: this book sparkles with authentic, layered characters and beautiful, thoughtful prose.” — Jodi Meadows, NYT bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane
“Do you want to read the letters for yourself?” I blurt out, and his face goes all hard and distant. “No, really. I think they—this whole thing—it’s like those roses Joran Masterson held up in the workshop. You can’t know what you aren’t seeing until you see it, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if it would change how you feel, but I think you should read the letters.”
“I don’t bloody want to read them.” Malcolm rubs a hand across the back of his neck.
“What about your father?”
“I don’t know.” Malcolm snaps off the ignition and shifts around in his seat to face me. “Part of me thinks that after all the pain he inflicted on my mum, he deserves any amount of pain the letters would cause him. But he hasn’t been the same since he read that your mother died. He still goes to the surgery every day, sees patients, runs the estate, but he’s only going through the motions, as if nothing really matters. At night he shuts himself in the reading room and doesn’t come back out. Then he rang out of the blue and asked me to come home this weekend because he needed to go to London. He refused to say how long for, and no one here knows anything except that he’s arranged a locum doctor to stand in for him at the practice for as long as needed.”
“And that isn’t normal?”
“Far from it.”
Malcolm’s trying so hard to sound like he doesn’t care that it makes my chest hurt to hear him. I hate that I came here and added to his worries. And I don’t know how to get myself out of this.
“Well, I hope he—” What? What am I supposed to say? “Grief is hard,” I manage, which is entirely feeble and obvious and lame. “Look, thanks for driving me back. And sorry I bothered you with all this. It was nice to meet you. So um. Yeah. Bye. Thanks again.” I smile too brightly. I’m babbling, so I just have to stop. I need to go.
Snatching up my purse, I jump out of the car without looking at Malcolm, and I rush up the path. The entrance is set beyond a low wall bordered by the kind of perfect English perennial garden that looks as if it happened by accident but that—like everything else around here—probably took a hundred careful years of weeding and breeding to grow just right.
Malcolm jumps out of the car and comes after me. His legs are longer than mine, so he catches me in just a couple strides. “Don’t do that. Don’t get cold and polite on me. Don’t leave.”
He catches my hand and tugs me to a stop, and I feel every ounce of my body heat pooling in my fingers. I want to die of mortification so I don’t turn around.
“All right, yes,” he says. “Yes, I want to read the letters. Which is to say, I know I’ll regret it if I don’t read them. Also, I meant what I said earlier about you coming to stay at the Hall. Dad would have my head on a platter if he found out I’d left you here on your own.”
I turn then, needing to see if he’s serious. He gives me another one of those smiles, and it’s the rose phenomenon all over again. Having seen the way his face can light up, I know this smile isn’t completely real. I flail for a word to explain the absence of something special, but there isn’t one. How can there not be one?
Well, heck, if Horace Walpole can invent “serendipity,” I can come up with something.
A·splen·dor·i·a (Noun): Perfectly executed but devoid of brilliance or genius. “The film’s asplendoria made it enjoyable but unremarkable.”
Malcolm’s smile, this smile, is asplendorious compared to his usual one.
And I did that to him.
I think of Ian collecting reminders of the honeymoon he and my mother never had, and my chest hurts as if every tear I’ve cried since Mom died has been pumped back into my lungs. At the same time, I want to run to her and bury my face in my mother’s shoulder.
Sitting in his chair reading, Malcolm looks so much more together than I am. But living with this collection, all these Taj Mahals, knowing what they represented, had to have been hard for him. Especially knowing that his mother knew.
The black hole of missingness Mom left in my life hasn’t gotten any smaller in the months since she died. Was it like that for Malcolm, too? It had to have been worse. He was so little. And all these years, he’s been stuck here watching Ian grieve the loss of my mother instead of his own.
The truth is, he has every right to hate my mother. If I hadn’t known the magical, flawed, struggling, human Marcella Cavalera, how would I be seeing her now? I suppose genius always requires selfishness, sacrifice, and collateral damage to the people around you, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with.
And Ian? Do I hate him?
I’m not sure I can hate someone who loved Mom that much.
To keep from staring at Malcolm while he reads, I wander over to a desk that’s filled with photos in silver frames. The pictures are all of Malcolm at various ages. When he’s very small, there’s a little girl with him, and they look a lot alike. Sometimes, there’s the two of them with their mother, who was very elegant. In other photos, Malcolm’s older, wearing a school tie and blazer and looking rebellious and lost. There are shots of him with other boys playing soccer and graduating in a cap and gown. But there isn’t a single photo of Malcolm with his father. No photos of Ian at all.
I turn to one of the bookshelves, running my fingers idly along the spines as I circumnavigate the room. Almost immediately, I find old friends: Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, Goethe, Keats, Byron. Then I discover an ancient edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray and an even older copy of some of Oscar Wilde’s correspondence. It’s like finding a box of my favorite chocolates—I don’t know which to sample first. I plop back down on the sofa, but instead of reading, I find myself watching Malcolm. Two envelopes lie on the table beside him and he holds a third in one hand while he reads the corresponding letter.
His eyes are the clearest I’ve ever seen, so clear it feels like I can see right into him. Reactions chase each other through them as he reads. Anger. Rejection. Surprise.
I wonder if reading the letters will change anything for him, alter the narrative of his childhood the way they’ve turned the wheel on the kaleidoscope of mine. Every new fact makes me see my mother and my life a little differently.
But the letters aren’t proof in themselves. They’re only twenty years of Mom thinking on paper. Talking to herself and pretending to talk to Ian.
Love for Two Lifetimes is available now in hardcover, trade paperback, and digital. There’s a special early order campaign with exclusive goodies for anyone who orders the book before November 1st. Additional incentives are available if you order from One More Page Books.
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Martina Boone is the award-winning author of Love for Two Lifetimes and the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including Compulsion, Persuasion, and Illusion for young adults from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse as well as romantic fiction for adult readers in the Celtic Legends Collection starting with Lake of Destiny. She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a three-time Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site. She’s dedicated to encouraging literacy and reader engagement through a celebration of literature, and she’s on the Board of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and runs the CompulsionForReading.com program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.
She lives in Virginia with her husband, children, Shetland Sheepdog, and a lopsided cat, and she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she loves to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate-flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.