Paperback: 476 pages
Publisher: Wings ePress (2011)
Blurb: Triggering an intervention of fate, 42 year old Rose Gerbaldi, discovers her heart and soul have been forever united with beautiful, 30 year old, British movie star, Michael Terrance. A discovery that compels her reality to firmly reclaim her – consequently devastating the very lives fate had so lovingly entwined.
Forsaken by a woman he’s never met, unable to control the debilitating agony, Michael seeks solace on the darker side of Hollywood. Meanwhile in Western Canada, having been doubly devastated, Rose relinquishes to a life of loneliness. Both are certain they’ll never again find that for which they long for – each other.
Foolish people – fate is infallible.
My review: Absolute Obsession reminded me of night time soap operas. A cast of characters live out their everyday lives while viewers watch then patiently wait for next week's installment. This is an adult novel with love scenes and is clearly written by someone who has a deft ear for dialogue. Rose, 42, is happily married to Jim, and they have three grown daughters. When Rose reads an interview with Michael Terrance, 30, a famous British actor, she is driven to write him a letter. She is no fangirl, she has only seen one of his movies and doesn't read the celebrity rags some of her co-workers do. Rose is even more surprised to hear his voice on her phone when he calls to thank her. One letter. One call. And a friendship blossoms. But for Michael, their increasing calls become a lifeline of sorts in his real world of playing make believe characters and dealing with frenzied fans. At one point, Rose's feelings deepen for this voice on the phone. She becomes as obsessed with Michael as he is with her.
Fiction blends with reality until the fairy tale becomes too much. Rose has a dilemma: she has built a family with Jim and they have grandchildren. Loving both men, she has to decide and she does--she must remain with Jim. She severs her ties with Michael, but both wind up dealing with the aftermath in their own way. Tragedy strikes Rose while Michael falls into a months long downward spiral of work, drink, and one-night stands. When he is arrested, his worried mother decides to make an important phone call. Rose, still dealing with her own heartbreak and troubles, picks up the phone.
This novel was realistic and I liked Rose and Michael. Though both told their story, I liked Rose more and felt I knew her better than Michael. There were times I wondered about his 'dark' outbursts and jealousy, and though they were attributed to his overworking, I kept thinking there was some other hidden meaning. Rose was a strong woman and she handled herself commendably throughout her journey to Michael. I was glad the author built such a strong relationship between Rose and Jim. Rose was also honest and told Jim about her relationship with Michael, but she doesn't reveal every thing. How can you when you love two men?
I haven't been emotionally touched in such a deep manner by any novel for awhile, but Absolute Obsession made me teary eyed. The poignant scenes--Rose's breakup, her heartbreaking tragedy, and the first time she meets Michael--had me so invested in this novel that I fully comprehended both Rose's and Micheal's compulsion since I didn't want to close the book. C. Elizabeth's writing was fluent and the scenes shifted smoothly. At 476 pages, I did find some sections could have been edited, especially when their actions became redundant (the impact of Michael's 'special smile' for Rose lessened when mentioned so closely between pages). Depicting a healthy, normal family was also refreshing to read but I had to wonder about the lack of depth of some of the secondary characters, especially her daughters. I expected some conflict between Serena, Rose's youngest, and her mom. Serena and her sisters just seemed to go with every choice their mother made. Also, there were many instances when a relationship was hinted at between Serena and one of Michael's security men, but I didn't see this fleshed out. In a couple of spots the two narrators became melodramatic (knives and embers during heartbreak), but I was already sucked into their story and overlooked them.
Absolute Obsession created a long lasting portrait of two people meant to be together and the journey they embark on to find each other. Romantic, humorous, poignant, I wonder what C. Elizabeth has planned for her next novel.
Rating: I really liked it.
Favorite excerpt: "I couldn't think... My insides were in an upheaval. Something was happening so fast it was hard to decipher exactly what it was. The pain that had been rising up was being replaced with a new feeling. All the embers in that pile were pulling back together, reforming, growing at a very fast rate. I could feel every piece, like a puzzle, one by one, each jagged edge fitting perfectly into each other. That heart and soul were healing and being put back in their rightful place in my chest. That heart was beating again. I could feel it, breathe it, taste it. Michael was still mine, and all the reasons I had let him go didn't matter anymore; he needed me. We could deal with all my problems after he was better. Maybe I could be happy and complete again, could I? "Helen, can I get your number and call you back?"
"Of course," she said. She gave me her number and we said our good-byes."
Cover comment: Considering Michael's career and her name (besides the gifts he leaves for her at his house), the picture is appropriate but I still find it a bit too dark.
Book source: From author for my honest opinion during a book tour.