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To Love Free by Chris Paynter

Famous artist, Madison Lorraine hasn’t picked up a paint brush in over three years. Not since she lost her wife and muse Callie to an aggressive form of uterine cancer. Madison and their nine year old daughter Mo are still living in their house in Islamorada, Florida, trying to come to terms with their tragic loss.

Top notch model, Gabrielle Valenci, has left New York and a dying relationship with her girlfriend Eva, to stay in her home in Islamorada to finish the last of her chemotherapy treatment. Her uterine cancer was caught early, her outlook is positive. The treatments however are debilitating. Her arrival has an unsettling effect on Madison, bringing back memories of Callie’s unsuccessful battle with cancer.

When a playful dolphin puts in appearance in their cove, little did Madison or Gabrielle know what a profound affect he was going to have on their lives. Each time the dolphin, (Mo named him Free) shows up he pushes them closer together.

When Madison starts taking Gabrielle to her treatments, their affection for each other grows as does their attraction. Both women, for different reasons, are wary of becoming involved with each other.

Will Madison be able to put aside her fears and learn to trust in the power of love again? Will Gabrielle trust that her cancer will not be a factor in who she loves and who loves her?

One beautiful, worldly wise dolphin named Free will be showing them the path and the light.

This book is extremely well written. Almost poetic. It’s heart aching and heart breaking, but has a wonderful uplifting spiritual aura and love entwined throughout. Although cancer is central to the story, it’s a beautifully, sympathetically written testament to anyone who has had any dealings with this dreadful disease. The message here is that cancer need not be a killer. The earlier this disease is caught, the better the chances of survival.

Two very different women, Madison and Gabrielle, have to come to terms with surviving not only the cancer, but the aftermath of it’s destruction. Madison who lost her beloved wife to cancer has to battle her own demons from her grief and loss. Gabrielle who is just finishing up her final chemotherapy treatments with her ravaged body, who doesn’t see herself as being attractive to anyone, must take a second look at herself.

Both Madison and Gabrielle are attracted to each other. But, Madison feels like she’s betraying Callie and Gabrielle has to look beyond her scars, weight loss and hair loss. It’s their journey here that we read about.

This isn’t a story to take lightly, but it’s not all doom and gloom either. It’s a story about survival, second chances, love and hope too. Hope for a future after cancer. A story of how cancer has affected a family and how they struggle out of the mire with the support of family and friends. A story of getting one’s life back, beating cancer and kicking it out.

I know Chris Paynter has first hand knowledge of this awful disease, a disease that has no respect for age or gender. I admire her for being able to write this book. Chris is a superb writer and master storyteller. Her books are a delight to read.

I will read this book again, it’s characters are too loveable not to meet again. Especially Mo and Free. 

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To contact Chris, click here.


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