Patti Callahan Henry's novella The Perfect Love Song is an early Christmas present for readers who like their love stories short and sweet. First and foremost the book is a love story between a singer with a band and his brother's fiancé's best friend. The love story becomes complicated when it is tied up with a conflict between career and family. Henry has her heart on her sleeve for she tends to opt for the romantic over the more realistic outcome.
Jimmy and Jack Sullivan are brothers and also founders of the band "The Unknown Souls." They have lived a fairly nomadic existence since starting the group but recently have returned to their hometown of Palmetto Pointe, South Carolina. When they were growing up in Palmetto Pointe they lived next to the Larson family and it was there they first met Kara. Now years later Jack and Kara have renewed their acquaintance and are engaged.
Love is definitely in the air because Jimmy finds himself falling for Kara's best friend Charlotte. This is a strange occurrence because Jimmy has always been wary of relationships. Perhaps this is because his father was an alcoholic who never was the kind of role model Jimmy needed and this alienation from his Dad has scarred him.
During the holiday season while Jack and Jimmy are in Palmetto Pointe, Jimmy writes a love song to Charlotte. This song becomes a hit and offers Jimmy career opportunities he never expected to have. As his career takes off Jimmy is torn between being with Charlotte and his family versus making a life on the road.
The book starts off at a slow pace and for male readers might be a little heavy on the perfect setting, perfect song, perfect love scenario. It even has an Irish woman narrating the story with a brogue that is sure to warm the cockles of our hearts. Then, just as you are getting bogged down in all the romance, Henry gives the story a twist. She has Jimmy coming to a crossroads between his love and his career. Suddenly the characters are not so perfect and the story not so predictable.
This life style choice saves the story and makes the book a more human experience rather than just a fairy tale. The ability to make this change in tone and tempo, and keep it believable, is what makes Henry a better than average writer.
Lovers of romance novels can just sink into the love story in the pages. However, those searching for something heartier will be able to find it in the story of Jimmy Sullivan and his career changing song.
THE PERFECT LOVE SONG is published by Vanguard Press. It contains 240 pages and sells for $15.95.
Jackie K Cooper