Look at this pretty book cover! It does make one want to tear into it, and tear into it I did this past week. A Dream Worth Keeping is the first novel by author Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast, whose first release was a memoir, The Ferry Home. In this novel, she explores the quintessential themes of love, loss, and forgiveness – of others and of oneself.
Martha Coutu is a pastry chef and chocolatier on the heels of a divorce that has left her with overwhelming self-doubt and skepticism toward men. When George Henderson enters her life unexpectedly, she battles the strong attraction she feels for him with her own memories of the abusive husband she has just recently jettisoned. Their initial meeting goes so well, however, that George asks for more time with Martha, but Martha (great name, by the way!) flees. I mean, she really flees – she packs up her car and drives from Baltimore to Florida, a drive that would run about 15 hours. Once in Florida, she stays with her culinary school chum Annie, who runs a B&B, and befriends Darcy, a local chocolatier with whom she forms a deep bond.
Martha has some major self-acceptance work ahead of her. While she clings to the past as if it’s a buoy, it actually serves to drag her down and keep her from a chance at real happiness. At times, she has a hard time recognizing the man who is actually a snake and a harder time acknowledging the good guy. But I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Martha’s journey is such a major part of the plot that you root for her throughout her roller-coaster ride of emotions. Set in Pensacola, Baltimore, and the coast of Maine, this book is propelled by realistic dialogue that moves the plot (as good dialogue should), gorgeous scenery descriptions, appropriate backstory, and mouth-watering depictions of pastries and chocolates.
There are minor punctuation errors (“Let me drive Maggie” is not the same as “Let me drive, Maggie”), but they don’t detract from the overall story, which is well-constructed, with one odd pop-up of a nearly-forgotten character at the end of the story, but the author quickly dispenses with him and moves forward. A Dream Worth Keeping is well worth reading, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys baking, traveling, and a well-written romance.
You can purchase A Dream Worth Keeping at Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/56dxrps4) or locally in Rhode Island from the publisher, Stillwater River Publications, at their bookstore, Stillwater Books (https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/dream-worth-keeping).