Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review of Wanting Rita

Book Review of Wanting Rita

Blurb : 

When his high school sweetheart experiences a devastating tragedy, Dr. Alan Lincoln reluctantly returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see her. It’s been 15 years. Rita was a small town beauty queen—his first love whom he has never forgotten. He was a nerd from a wealthy family. Her family was poor. They formed a strong connection during their senior year, but Rita married someone else, and the marriage ended tragically.

Alan’s marriage of three years is disintegrating, and he sees in Rita the chance to begin again with the true love of his life. Rita has been mentally and emotionally shattered, but she reaches out to Alan and fights to build a new life with him. During a passionate summer, however, the past and present converge and threaten their rekindled love, as Alan and Rita must struggle with old ghosts and new secrets.

About the Author:

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.
Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer’s Daughter and Wanting Rita.

When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.


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“She’ll be there, Alan,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said, in a quiet, hopeful voice.  “She’ll be at Jack’s Diner.  She’s been working there for a month now.  It…well, it would just be a good thing…a nice thing if you could…” Her voice trailed off, then grew weak and brittle.  “You’re the only person she’s asked about.  But… you must be so busy.  I mean, I know doctors are always busy.  Of course, you’re busy, but… Well, if you could just go and see her…”

Then there was desperation.  “I’m sorry to call you at your office, but I just thought…well, if she saw some old friends.  She needs to…get out and…”

I’d heard that voice frequently working in the ER during my residency.  A voice stripped of pride by a mounting panic.

“She’ll be so glad to see you again, Alan.  I just know it.   She was always so fond of you, you know.”
Just as I was about to end the conversation, she broke down, repeating the story of Rita’s tragedy in deep sighs and choking sobs.  I waited, impatiently.  She rambled and paused, hoping for a response.  I didn’t offer any, so she continued on with a weepy intensity, with anger, remorse, and an occasional hacking cough.  I listened coolly, aloof, frequently checking my watch.  I was already behind.  Patients were complaining to reception.  I had mountains of paperwork to do and I hadn’t eaten lunch.
Mrs. Fitzgerald persisted, with surging emotion.  Her pace became a desperate sprint to the finish line, jumping from self-pity to scorn, to cursing, to rage.  She trampled on all my efforts to cut her off.  So I waited for the end of emotion; for the end of her confessions; for the shattered voice that finally fell into a withering and feeble “Oh, God… please go see Rita… Please…”

I wasn’t moved in that hollow silence.   My heart contracted with an icy chill—with the rush of unwanted memories.  I wasn’t even moved when she timidly called my name to see if I was still there.
“Yes… I’m here, Mrs. Fitzgerald, but I have to go now.  Thank you for calling.”

I hung up, abruptly, without another word.  I wanted to erase her—erase the entire population of Hartsfield, Pennsylvania—from my mind.

I’d already heard the story.  My sister, Judy, had called eight months before, stunned, teary and grateful to share.  Two hours later, an old friend from high school, whom I hadn’t heard from in six years, called me stammering, shocked, and depressed.  Then my father had called, using cold, sharp words.  “They were trash.  Didn’t you date that girl a couple of times?  What was her name… Rita?”

It had briefly hit the national news, I was told, although I didn’t see it because I was in Barbados on vacation when it happened.  Of course it upset me.  It would upset anyone, but I had never been particularly fond of Mrs. Fitzgerald when I was a kid.  And when I was a kid living in Hartsfield, she’d never been particularly fond of me.  But then, with few exceptions, nobody was.  Except Rita.  Rita, at least for a fleeting miraculous time, had been fond of me.  Perhaps, she had even loved me.  And I, without a doubt—any doubt—had loved her.

In the last two years of high school, Rita had blazed with a beauty and magnetism that burned through a crowd like wildfire.  She possessed a kind of languid rapture and soft exotic glow that I compared to the starlets of the 1940’s and 50’s; that mysterious mixture of fire and ice that arrested the eyes and heart in a breathless expectation.  She was art, with her refined aristocratic nose, long chiseled neck, and voice like pure unraveling silk.  Her lips were red, full, and often parted, as if in want of a kiss, though there was no pretension in this.  At least, I never thought so.

She was full-figured and statuesque, with honey blond hair that fell in waves over thin ivory shoulders, in a longing, really—in a natural invitation to touch and caress.  And she moved in an easy rhythm, as if hearing distant pagan music, with a gentle sway of her hips that sent ripples of fervent pleasure through any gathering of guys, and a humid jealousy through any crowd of gals.

Rita had been the town treasure.  The prom queen.  The beauty queen.  The trophy.  Men with cigars on the Courthouse steps jerked nods of agreement that Hartsfield could produce more than just thermal underwear.  They produced Rita Fitzgerald: beauty, talent and personality.  She’d go somewhere, New York, LA, and become somebody, and they’d be the proud town fathers who had supported her, nurtured her and helped her along.  She could sing and dance, and she wrote poems and short stories that were published in the local paper.  She was even going to write a novel about Hartsfield.  For weeks after this fact was published in the Sunday paper, I observed that teachers, neighbors and town folk all had broader smiles, softer dispositions and kind words, where few had been offered before.

Whenever she had shined her large sea-blue eyes on me, I saw tenderness, wonder and intelligence; and when she took me into them, fully, and held me for a time, I felt primitive and exalted.  During those rare moments when Rita and I had been close and I felt her soft breath on my cheek or in my ear, and whenever she leaned into me and I smelled the spring scent of her and looked into her blue eyes, wide with magic, I saw them break into prisms of fire so magnificent that I often went dumb and silent with desire for her.

As I stared vacantly ahead at the garish neon lights of Jack’s Diner, I felt the rise of apprehension and dread.  Surely Rita had changed.  Had the tragedy blunted her beauty and zest for life?  Did I really want to see her defeated and small, working as a waitress at Jack’s Diner?  Did she really want to see me?
* * * * *

Book Review:

            Everybody knows or has seen one of those couples, you know the ones I mean, the beautiful woman with the totally geeky guy and you think, “How the h%$@ did he get her?”  Well maybe this story can help you figure it out.  Small town beauty falls for nerdy, square rich boy, but of course it can’t work out because then it would be a shorter story.  As with any romance, they must have a problem to overcome.

            The true genius of this story is that the problems are true to life.  This is a story that could happen to anyone.  It tugs at the heart-strings because it is unfailingly honest and brutal in its honesty.  You will laugh, cry, swear, yell, and still keep reading because the story will have you in its grip

            I give this story 5 out of 5 clouds.

This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.




  1. Wow, thank you for the wonderful review today, Mindy!

  2. Yes, I feel that they could fall in love and live happily ever after. But first, I think they will have all kinds of ups and downs before their relationship is complete. Would love to read this book. It is going on my to read list. Thank you for this giveaway.
    :)Jeanne Bates Tennant

  3. I do believe they would be meant to be and find happiness together. I know people this scenario has happened to and they are incredibly happy. Love takes work and it looks like Rita and Alan have some work ahead of them :) Thank you for this awesome giveaway opportunity.

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  5. WANTING RITA was based on two girls Douglas had dated: one in high school and one in college: the high school prom queen was quiet and intelligent and came from a difficult family background. He met the other girl during his freshman year in college. She was volatile, smart and talented. Both girls struggled to overcome many emotional demons. Douglas did not keep in touch with them but learned, recently, that one now owns a restaurant in a rather large city and has three kids. Brava!