Each and every one of us has the ability to effect change—to make our world a better place. The dedicated women selected as this year's recipients of Harlequin's More Than Words award have changed lives, one good deed at a time. To celebrate their accomplishments, some of our bestselling authors have honored the winners by writing stories inspired by these real-life heroines.
We hope More Than Words inspires you to get in touch with the real-life heroine living inside of you.
In Carly Phillips's Compassion Can't Wait, two high school sweet hearts are reunited years later, as if by fate, and discover that if you believe in yourself and each other, anything is possible.
Donna Hill's Someplace Like Home tells the story of how one woman's dream becomes reality, as three special people learn that it's never too late to form a loving family.
In Jill Shalvis's What the Heart Wants, an honorable man must learn to forgive himself to regain the trust of the dedicated teacher who is the love of his life.
This was a great anthology made all the better because of the women who were behind the stories.
**The first story, Compassion Can’t Wait by Carly Phillips, is based on the work done by Valerie Sobel and her Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation. The foundation helps single mothers, who have children who are dying, pay bills and take care of financial issues so that the parent can be with their child in their time of need rather than having to work and be away from them.
The story itself is about Julia who is a social worker and decides to help a boy whose single mother is trying to deal with her other son who has leukemia. Julia knows that Michael has severe hero worship for Kyle Hansen, the start pitcher for the Miami Suns. Julia and Kyle were once high school sweethearts but due to many circumstances they took different paths and never talked to each other again. Knowing that Julia can put a little sunshine into Michael’s life she bites the bullet and seeks out Kyle’s assistance with Michael. When Kyle and Julia see each other again though, they each know that there are still deep feelings hidden within them for the other – but can they get past the hurt that they feel from the past and move on?
This was a great little story that I very much enjoyed reading. Phillips did a great job showing us the rekindling of Julia and Kyle’s romance but also the emotional aspect of Kyle dealing with Michael and what Michael was going through during this difficult time. A very heartwarming story.
**The second story, Someplace Like Home by Donna Hill, is based on the work that Nancy Abrams does with the Family Reconnect Program. The program helps try and reconnect runaways with their parents so that they can get back home or establish themselves with their family support.
The story was about a social worker, Verna, who had had enough of the system and decided to open Someplace Like Home – taking care of teens who have had problems in the system or cannot find a home. During a seminar Verna gives she connects with Ronald who is interested in volunteering at SLH. Eventually he begins to work at the home and Verna and Ronald begin to date. Only Ronald actually believes, after seeing one of the girls at the home, that she may actually be his daughter – one he had no clue he had. But Verna has mixed feelings about reuniting the daughter and father which puts a strain on Ronald and Verna’s relationship. Can they work through it.
This story was good as well but it didn’t click with me as much as the other two in the book. I loved what Someplace Like Home was doing with the kids and it really seemed to be working. Verna and Ronald’s relationship was good too although we were more told about it than shown. I really had an issue with Verna’s lack of trust in Ronald when it came to “claiming” his daughter. I understood that she had been hurt tremendously in the past by the mother that abandoned her and that it colored Verna’s thoughts – but I think that was my problem. Verna should have been more than happy to get even one child out of the system where they could find a loving parent. Knowing Ronald as she did she should have trusted him. It all worked out in the end but I can’t say I ended the book with a full smile on my face…just half a one. lol
**The third story ,What The Heart Wants by Jill Shalvis, is based on the work done by Victoria Pettibone and Sasha Eden with the WET Risk Takers program. The program is designed to bolster girls’ self–esteem, providing them with leadership tools, and valuable information on their health and well being.
The story tells us of a math teacher, Ellie, who starts a program called PIC (Powerful and in Charge). She helps teens try to see that they are powerful and they don’t have to be punching bags either verbally or emotionally and they can do anything they put their mind to. A fluke meeting puts Ellie and Jack – high school friends – back in touch. Ellie and Jack circle around each other and Ellie finds herself asking Jack for his assistance with PIC and having him teach the girls how to protect themselves through self-defense (that’s his business). The couple seem to be hitting it off but Jack is feeling mega guilt for something that happened back in high school with Ellie – nothing that was his fault at all. He’s also afraid of taking that major step toward the serious relationship.
This was probably my favorite story of the bunch. It was simple and straightforward – not too much angst and a lot of honesty which I love to read about in my romances. Jack was more than aware of Ellie – even when he hadn’t been in contact with her. Ellie, once she met up with Jack again, couldn’t seem to keep herself away from him. I really loved how Ellie just called Jack on things and never let him get away from the hard issues. This was a great story with romance as well as the help that both Jack and Ellie – and Ellie’s program – played in teens lives.
Rating: 4 out of 5
There are also 2 free stories on Harlequin.com by Meryl Sawyer and Pamela Morsi that are based on More Than Words recipients as well that you can read here.