I don’t often highlight Samhain releases on my blog, but I wanted to share Leaving Mama by Bobbie Cole with you. This is the first women’s fiction book I acquired and I adore it. It’s significant for me because I’m not a huge fan of women’s fiction. The last book in this category that I really loved was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. But when Bobbie submitted this book to Samhain, I was captivated. She writes incredible, strong women, portraying such vivid characterization that I feel I know them. As I was editing this book, pieces of it jumped out at me, slapping me in the face and touching me with their meaning.

This is by no means a sappy book 😉 This is a story of journeys and the questions many of us face as mothers and daughters. I hope you’ll give Leaving Mama a chance!

Blurb and excerpt after the jump.

Leaving Mama by Bobbie Cole
ISBN: 1-59998-032-0
Length: Novel
Price: $5.50 (4.95 until next Monday as new releases are always 10% off)
Genre: Mainstream/Women’s Fiction
Date: May 30th, 2006

Sometimes the only way to find your way home is to leave.

Smoking weed while perched on top of her grandmother’s coffin in the middle of a downpour was not how Jillian had seen the trip from Oklahoma to Minnesota as happening. With flights canceled and the airline employees striking, she had no choice but to improvise and use her rock band’s hearse. And when Gran exits the hearse after the tires skid on a rain slick highway and the back door flies open, Jillian decides to make the best of the moment.

Things only get worse when they arrive in Minnesota and her oldest sister, Shari, has a stroke at the memorial service. Toss in the fact that their grandmother had led two lives—there was a whole other family they’d known nothing about waiting for them in Minnesota—and life suddenly becomes more complicated…even for Jilly and Shari’s mother, Donna…

Excerpt –DONNA

He sat beside me. “You’re not dying.”

“Then why does it feel like I am?” My eyes filled with tears again.

“Because you just buried your mother a few weeks ago, and because for the first time since Shari was born, you and I are going to be all alone. Just the two of us. And maybe you don’t want that.”

I digested his words. “You think…you think what? That I don’t want to be alone with you?”

“That’s what I fear most,” he said. “You’re afraid you won’t be missed, and I’m afraid I won’t be enough for you. Afraid I won’t be able to make you happy once we’re alone again.”

“Oh, Jim!” I burst into tears and shook my head. “I am so sorry. I never meant…I mean, you’re right…we’ll be alone. But…you have to know how much I love you!”

“Sure.” He sighed and dropped his hands to his lap and stared ahead, past the door, into some corner of his mind where I couldn’t find him. “That’s why I wanted to pick up golf again, why I wanted to eat out more, do things as a couple. We haven’t done anything in so long, that I was afraid we wouldn’t know what to do with one another.”

Sure? My husband sounded confused, like he dreaded our being alone while wanting it, nonetheless. My declaration of love only elicited a sure from him. Like it was something he believed but didn’t feel. Like nothing I said could possibly strike a welcoming chord within him, as if the words I love you didn’t mean as much as they once did when I said them. Had I not said them enough?

“What do you mean, sure?” I asked. “Don’t you believe me?”

“I hear what you’re saying, Donna, but to tell the truth I don’t feel it. I don’t…I guess I just don’t remember the last time you said I love you with passion. I used to make your toes curl—I used to be able to drive you crazy. I don’t feel the crazy any more. Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t see the girls being together—away from us for a while—as all that bad. I miss Shari and Jilly as much as you do, but I figured we’d comfort one another and even find that we enjoyed one another’s company again.”

“I enjoy your company!” I cried.

“You and I tolerate one another, and we’ve settled into a very blasé form of coexistence—we’re comfortable together. But we’re not passionate. We don’t have the same feeling we once had for one another. I just hoped that you’d look forward to spending time alone with me. That’s all.”

“You want passion?”

“I deserve passion—we both do,” he replied.

“What about last night?” Now I was outraged.

“Last night was wonderful!” He turned to face me. “But today, it’s back to paychecks and promises, the kids, how we spend the day, everything but us. It’s not about us today, and it rarely is any more. I don’t see why we have to go through this drama every time one of the girls does something we don’t like. This isn’t the end of the world, Donna—Shari is in the hospital, and she wants to see her daughter. It’s not like they’re never coming back.”

Overwhelmed with grief over the pain my oldest daughters had inflicted and the fear that something might happen if I wasn’t there to protect them, I’d never considered my husband’s pain. The love of my life—the man I’d wanted to marry and have children with, the cornerstone of my very existence…and I’d taken him for granted. At least, he felt that I had.

His eyes stared ahead, the lines around them deeper than I’d seen in a long time, his jaw taut with tension, shoulders slumped as though he carried the weight of the world on them. How awful he must feel. I felt as though I were losing my children…and he seemed to feel he’d lost me, which meant there was obviously something else I hadn’t done right over the past few years if I’d alienated my children and made my husband feel as though he wasn’t important.

I felt hopeless. “What do you want, Jim? You want me to send the girls to the library or the neighborhood pool so that you and I can stay in bed and make love or read the comics or go play golf or do whatever it is that will make you happy?” My voice became shrill the longer I talked. “I feel betrayed—by Jillian and Shari! I resent the position they’ve put me in, and I am sorry if you don’t feel fulfilled with our relationship, but right now I am hurt and angry!”

He rose. “Well, don’t kid yourself if you think that’s going to solve anything. You’ll just manage to make everyone else’s day miserable if all you’re going to do is have a pity party every time you think of tomorrow.”

Pity party?

I ground my teeth and forced myself off the bed, snatching the clothes I’d shed off the bed and returning them to the closet where I grabbed the first pair of shoes I could find and slammed them onto my feet. I’d show him. He wanted happy, I would be bigod happy or die trying.

As for passion? Jim was nuts if he thought I’d want to make love to him after this. His words stung—I thought the previous night had been fantastic. And here he thought…whatever he thought. Did he think I’d wake up begging for more, when my life was falling apart? Fat chance.

Sexual intimacy was one thing—and we’d had that last night. But passion in the midst of turmoil, gut-wrenching fear, and pain for the loss I was feeling was something else entirely. How did he expect me to be passionate about anything when I was worried and hurt? Why did men always seem to think that sex solved everything.

Passion. I snorted. I felt tempted to tell him that if he wanted passion and felt I was so damned unable to give it to him, he should go get another haircut or buy another set of golf clubs and take Phyllis Wheat with him.

I was silent as we all climbed in the car and headed toward the restaurant the girls had chosen. Passion. My anger subsided as I took a long, honest look back at what he’d said. He hadn’t said sex…he’d said passion. A thirst for living, is what he meant. And I hadn’t been thirsty for anything that concerned just him in so many years that I couldn’t remember. Neither of us had craved passion in decades. Or had he wanted this, and I’d just been so wrapped up with paying bills and raising children that I hadn’t noticed?

Dear God. What the hell did he want, for me to buy some French maid’s costume or learn belly dancing, for me to buy sex toys or naughty lingerie? Give him a gift subscription to Playboy magazine or Golf Digest? Go down on him more than once a month?

Shame on you! I cautioned myself. If you have that particular sex act down to the point where you can count the number of times you’ve done it per month, then you’ve considered it an obligation instead of a pleasure.

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