Reviewed: 2013-04-05 - (Review Updated: 2013-09-06)
Generally, I don't review stories that already have reviews attached, especially when I agree with the review in question. Saralinda however, is a special case. Though I agree with the majority of Orangeade's review, I definitely don't agree that Saralinda is just "an enjoyable read ..."
I've often compared finding a really good story on SoL, to finding a nugget of gold amongst the dross. Saralinda is much more than a nugget, Saralinda is pure gold, through and through.
Technically, the story is very good, just a few missing words, and the odd typo. Grammatically, it's excellent. That said, Gray Beard weaves a tale of naivete and love that I found totally engrossing. From stunted beginnings, the main protagonist eventually flowers into true womanhood. Gray Beard's characters are well rounded, and believable, and the reader is inexorably drawn into their world, a process that at times, I felt incredibly moving.
Getting emotionally involved with a story may seem odd to some, but that's the aim of a good author, to suspend the reader's disbelief, and involve them in the world they've created. To this end Gray Beard succeeds admirably. If you fail to read this story, you've missed out on something unique. If you aren't moved by it, then I feel sorry for you and yours.
Read, and enjoy!
A despondent woman standing on a bridge, prepared to end it all . . . a mysterious stranger swooping in to rescue her . . . awakening on a yacht crewed by beautiful people who seem to flit from one sexual partner to the next . . . you'd be forgiven if your initial impression was that Gray Beard's "Saralinda" was a familiar fantasy without substance. And you'd be wrong.
"Saralinda" is actually an engaging little romance about broken people and the way love can heal them. It's two stories existing in the same spot, one the tale of a rescued young woman whose emotional development has been stunted by loss and years of psychological abuse, the other of her rescuer, who years after his own personal tragedy still finds himself emotionally adrift.
Actually, it's the latter story that's more intriguing. The yacht's owner, Gary, cashed out of the business world after the death of his wife and son, and filled the void by building a family of sorts on his ship, including a number of women who share his bed with emotional attachments of varying degrees. Saralinda's arrival coincides with the breaking apart of that family, as real life and needs intrude on the idyll of Gary's polyamorous group. Gray Beard imbues his characters with authentic emotions, needs and expectations.
But this is, after all, Saralinda's tale, and when that reaches its conclusion, so does the story. Gray Beard tries to wrap up the other story line with an epilogue, and even if you're satisfied with the conclusion, it'll likely feel a bit rushed.
Still, "Saralinda" is an enjoyable read. Gray Beard uses the convention of alternating first-person accounts among four characters, and it works quite well. Any reader who enjoys romance stories would do well to put this in his or her reading queue.