Title: Reunion of Souls
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Paul Lonardo
Purchase Links: Paperback, Ebook
Connect with the Author: Website, Amazon Author Page
Jodi is a college graduate looking for a full-time teaching position during a time when her mother is battling emphysema. As her mom's conditions worsens, Jodi moves back home to take care of her. The story opens just after Jodi buries her mother. Saddened by this and disheartened by her stalled professional career, she feels her life has been interrupted as she sees her friends beginning to achieve their dreams of getting their first jobs after graduating college, or settling down and getting married. Jodi harbors no regrets for the sacrifice she made, but she feels she has missed out on something. She will soon find out that she waited just the right amount of time, however, when an invitation arrives informing her of her upcoming five year high school class reunion. During her school days, she had always felt a smoldering flame for a quiet and shy classmate named Nick. In the years since graduation, she found herself thinking about him more and more. Although Nick lives in Chicago with a girlfriend whom he is rumored to be engaged, when Jodi learns that he will be attending the event she finds herself wanting to go to the reunion only to see him. She starts to fantasize that he wants to be with her as much as she wants him, and then begins to feel intuitively that there really is something special between them to pursue. Just prior to the reunion, Jodi receives a letter from a school in California offering her a teaching job. It’s and opportunity to start over, but she wants to find out if she has a chance with Nick first. At the same time, her antagonist in town, Arianna, who had been the captain of the cheerleading squad and homecoming queen, tries to thwart her from developing a relationship with Nick at every turn. The night of the reunion, Jodi and Nick meet and sparks fly, but Nick’s insecurities threaten to undermine everything before they even have a chance to get started. Can Jodi convince him that they belong together, and that their first chance at love may also be their last?
As Jodi entered the mansion, she followed the sound of the music up a large staircase. The banquet room and setup was typical of any formal catered affair, with buffet stations full of food and desserts, a cash bar, several rows of round tables, a small dance floor, and a DJ set up in one corner. There were a lot of people milling around, and after Jodi made a quick scan for Nick she began to mingle. It didn’t take long to notice that her classmates were gathered into the same cliques she remembered from high school, the same bands of friends gravitating together—the jocks with the jocks, the geeks with the geeks, the pretty boys with the pretty girls. And just like in high school, Jodi really didn’t feel comfortable with any of them, so she drifted among all of them.
She had been there a while, and was actually having fun, catching up with everyone, but after an hour, when Nick still hadn’t shown up, she caught a glimpse of herself in a gold gilt wall mirror and realized that she was really underdressed compared to the other girls. What if Nick didn’t like her outfit? She fought an urge to leave, to just go home. However, she knew this was where she needed to be. She just had to wait. In the meantime, she joked around with Kathy DiNoble.
“Remember that creepy male substitute teacher we had that time in cooking class,” Jodi began. “We were talking about what to make, and you suggested Sex in a Pan. He heard you, leaned over, looked right at you and said, ‘I prefer it in a bed.’” The two girls laughed and continued to reminisce until Kathy was called away by someone and excused herself to talk in another group.
Not seeing anyone else she wished to talk to and still no sign of Nick, Jodi decided to take a walk alone through the lower floor of the beautifully refurbished Queen Anne style converted mansion. The home had been built more than a century ago, and featured original wood and slate flooring and an abundance of chair rail and crown molding. The unusually-shaped rooms had different color schemes—blue, mulberry red, and cream—and were adorned with traditional Victorian-style furniture and decor. As she entered the library, she saw a formidable wall of books, ten feet high, stretching all the way to the ceiling, and a set of armchairs for reading in one corner. There must have been a thousand volumes on the shelves, many of them elegantly bound in leather.
Jodi instinctively found herself searching through the titles and authors for a book of poems by John Keats. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and she thought for sure that she would not be able to find what she was looking for in the apparent random placement of books. To her surprise, however, she discovered a collection of English Romantic poetry, which included in it the works of William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. As she opened the book in the middle, there was the entire thousand-line, four-book poem,Endymion.
She began to read the lines to herself, recalling as she did the fragments of the dream she had the other night. She remembered being in the high school library with Nick, who was shirtless, reading this poem to her. The imagery made her smile. And made her heart flutter.
At that moment, Jodi felt someone nearby, and when she looked up she saw Nick looking at her with a whimsical smile.
This is a short and sweet romance about missed opportunities and second chances. It's engaging and easy to read. It certainly kept me turning the pages and I enjoyed every bit of Reunion of Souls. I would really like to see more to this story. It could certainly be a full length novel that would keep me interested. I love second chance romances, and though they never really explore their first chance, I would put this in that category. It was very enjoyable as is, but there's certainly a lot more Paul could do here. Overall, a great, sweet romance if you're looking for a short simple summer read.
Paul Lonardo has published both fiction and non-fiction. He has had titles excerpted in Reader’s Digest and reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly .
From the Ashes became the basis of a 2013 documentary web series, The Station,which he produced. Paul was interviewed as part of NBC’s documentary program,I Survived a Serial Killer , featuring the true crime story depicted in the book Caught in the Act.
Paul lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island with his wife and son.