Prolific fiction author Danielle Steel has written another emotional read, the 56th novel of her career. While Steel is well known for creating characters who always seem to enjoy both wealth and beauty, she brings this duo into focus with their often deep-seated emotional scars. Such is the case with Faith, who endured sexual abuse as a child and mental abuse from her husband Alex. While initially, Faith and Brad's complaints about their respective spouses may seem somewhat repetitive, the pace of this read picks up when Alex's behavior toward Faith becomes increasingly abusive, and she tries to stand up for herself. What follows is a deeply emotional exchange between Faith and Brad, as their very believable and platonic friendship deepens and becomes intertwined with Faith's religious faith.

Married for 26 years, Faith Madison finds her husband becoming emotionally and physically distant toward her. With both her daughters gone from their New York City home, Faith decides she'd like to go back to college and finish the last two years of law school. But her dictatorial husband demands that she dedicate herself to just being his wife.

Fortunately for Faith, she recently became reacquainted with an old friend at her stepfather's funeral. Brad Patterson is her deceased older brother Jack's friend, who happened to be in New York and attended the funeral to support Faith. The two begin a coast-to-coast e-mail and phone correspondence when Brad returns to his San Francisco home and his position as an attorney for indigent youth.

As they compare their lonely marriages to their respective spouses and provide emotional support for each other, their friendship deepens.

(Oct., 326 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick