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When I’m writing stories or essays, I listen to light classical music, or Enya. For other online work, such as these posts, my music of choice is soft rock from the 1970s and 1980s. As I started drafting this post, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” from 1976, started to play, and it seemed appropriate. Most of the lyrics, and the gentle casual vibe, match the story. Let’s listen.

wilkinsHealed with a Kiss is a 2014 Harlequin Special Edition from prolific writer Gina Wilkins. This is the third in series from the same author, using the same location, but it reads like a stand alone.

Alexis tried to make it big on Broadway, but left the big city, and a boyfriend only interested in the trappings of her career. She bought a small town wedding planning business in the Blue Ridge area of Virginia, and got to work making other couples happy. With a family history of bad marriages, and her own relationship disappointment, she has no interest in romance or marriage.

A major customer is a local inn, run by two sisters and their brother, Logan. Logan was a software entrepreneur, but a bad partnership ruined the business, and he’s content to do landscaping and maintenance at the inn, with some consulting on the side. He’s also had relationship disappointments, and is not interested in romance or marriage.

Alexis and Logan regularly meet when there are weddings at the inn. He complains about the promises she makes to brides, and she complains about his grumpiness. A couple of evenings a month he comes to her place for no strings sex (like the song). He never stays the night, of course. Both are happy with the arrangement, and at first they don’t realize how the arrangement is changing their lives.

This is a comfortable story of a couple discovering they are in love, and being unsure how to react. Nothing more. There’s no initial dislike, the complications are mild, the stakes are low, the sex is discreet, the climactic event is almost trivial, and yet it adds up to a satisfying read, thanks to good writing. Wilkins is skilled at including just the right amount of detail to describe a scene, set a mood, and establish realism. (Several years ago I found His Best Friend’s Wife less satisfying, but noted good use of detail). A key sequence in the book does a great job of showing the relationship develop, and demonstrates that you can throw things at your characters other than rocks. It was delightful to see these two hard-working, equally strong, and somewhat cynical individuals overcome past wounds, and accept that a relationship might work.