Friday, October 14, 2011

Anything, by Michael Baron


The Story Plant, ISBN 9781611880212, October 2011

Would you do anything for the person you love? Truly anything?

Ken Timian gets a chance to find out.

He's living with, and engaged to, Melissa Argent, daughter of a Marine Colonel, environmental activist, and the love of his life. They've been together two years, and in that time, she's made him not only happier than he's ever been, but a better person. She's brought him both a greater moral awareness, and a greater ability to relax, have fun, and be spontaneous. Melissa herself, though, doesn't have the same ability to be light and spontaneous, and is oddly sensitive about pictures from her high school years. It's a surprise to Ken when Melissa's mother mentions that she was a very talented and dedicated pianist--until high school.

Then their very peculiar favorite jeweler, Stephon, asks Ken what his dearest fantasy about Melissa is, and Ken, after some thought, that he'd love to know what Melissa was like during the thirty years of her life before they met. Stephon, it turns out, has a way to make this possible--to let Ken be a spectator at key moments in Melissa's earlier life.
Ken embarks on a wild, unimaginable experience, learning about a terrible experience when Melissa was in high school, that cost her both the music she loved, and her spontaneity--even much of her ability to trust. Ken is determined to change this, to find a way to go into her past for real and prevent what happened. But can he do it? Is it possible, and can he live with the consequences if he does?

I'm stunned by how good this book is. Ken's love for Melissa, his commitment to do what is best for her regardless of the cost to himself, is portrayed in understated and convincing terms. Stephon could easily be unbelievable, but delicately painted atmospherics give him and his magic a sense of low-key reality.

I can't really say more without venturing into spoiler territory, but Ken copes courageously with a situation that, at first, he can't even believe has really happened. This is an excellent romance and a darned good fantasy.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.