Title: The Caretaker
Author: Carol Schoenig
The Caretaker by Carol Schoenig tells the story of Phae as she tries to make her own life after an abusive marriage and many years as a single-parent. She decides to go to Spain to work as a caretaker for an estate. There, she meets Finn and the two start a romance.
This book is much more than a simple, straight-forward romance story. Phae is older than your typical love-interest (aged 64). Both she and Finn have loved and lost before (he is also a widower). Their love is complicated by family matters. Schoenig goes against the old trope of parental interference and instead it is Phae’s children who try to stand between her and Finn.
As the romance unfolds, there are some elements that may not always seem entirely plausible, but these do set up a modern, fantasy love story. At times, the characters seem to act in inconsistent ways, but this seems to be explained as their histories are revealed over the course of the book.
Schoenig creates tension in the story by having the interference from Phae’s children, which causes revelations of long-held family secrets. As Phae’s children try to interfere with her relationship, she reveals the abuse she experienced from their father and more details she had held secret. Phae is shocked to learn her children (Jeff and Kera) have also held secrets.
Through the discord and uncovering of past family trauma, Phae sees her son has unfortunately adopted many of his father’s traits. He re-enacts abuse patterns by giving Phae an ultimatum (choose between her grandchildren and her new romance). Phae has to make some tough choices about what she wants.
The story and plot of The Caretaker is more complex with a secondary potential love story for Finn’s daughter (Izzy). As the book progresses, the audience learns more about Izzy’s past and gets to see her young future unfold. In a way, Schoenig uses this second story to show what could have been for Phae, if her first husband had been different.
Schoenig develops the story in a way so that each character can heal from past traumas and grow together. Each has closure to the past and some new hope for the future. Sometimes things seem to wrap up a bit easily, but that seems to be what makes this sort of romance novel so nice to read. It gives hope that real life pain can also mend and build into brighter futures.
This book would be enjoyable for anyone who likes romance novels. This book could easily be made into a made-for-television romance movie, so if you enjoy that style, you will enjoy this book. Older women may especially enjoy this book, as they can identify with the main character. The book does have a few geographical errors and some copy-editing mistakes that can be distracting, but the story is compelling enough to make these easy to ignore.
The Caretaker is a compelling romance story. This is a great book to read, if you want to learn about complicated lives, while also seeing a new love story blossom. It is a tumultuous and growing love story set in a romantic locale.
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