When her mother died, Carmen stepped into her shoes and became the woman of the family, shouldering much of the responsibility for raising her two youngest siblings and keeping the family running. Even though Joey and Rosa are now grown, she’s found it difficult to let that role go.
When Rosa graduates from college, Carmen takes her to Europe for the summer. She means the trip as not simply a gift, but a way to strengthen their bond as sisters and to help Rosa, the youngest sibling and the pampered family princess, become a more fully-realized adult. She has no intention of spending time with anyone but her sister.
Writer and widower Theo Wilde is living in Paris for several months, with the mission to write his next book. His grown sons, worried that he is too much alone, push him into the city to meet someone new. He’s not enthusiastic, but he makes a promise to try. It’s Carmen he meets.
What begins as a summer fling against the beautiful, romantic backdrop of Paris becomes something that neither of them expected, something Carmen is not prepared for. She has always placed her family first, but to be with Theo, she’ll need to stretch beyond her roots and grow.
NOTE: explicit sex, some violence.
Rooted was a different kind of story than what I’ve read so far in the Pagano family series. The mystery, suspense and general fast-moving pace is absent. Instead, this is the story about Carmen Pagano, the responsible, no-nonsense “maternal figure” of the Pagano clan.
Hoping to add some culture and influence an attitude change in her little sister Rosa, upon Rosa’s college graduation, Carmen takes her to France for the summer. While there, Carmen hopes that Rosa will grow up and become a less self-absorbed, spoiled “brat”. Realizing the family has babied Rosa her whole life, Carmen hopes getting her away from familiar surroundings will encourage growth in her sister. However, Carmen is about to realize she too can benefit from a little growth herself.
While her sister recovers from jet-lag, Carmen sets out to explore the town. While eating dinner one night, she is approached by a man with lame pick up lines, and a handsome face. Carmen, with a reputation for telling it like it is, quickly shuts him down.
“No. This is not our Woody Allen meet-cute. You are not charming. And you are not invited. Go away.”
Theo doesn’t back down so easily. He promised his son’s he wouldn’t come home until he has spoken to a beautiful girl, and Carmen was gorgeous. He is a widow and hasn’t been with anyone in years. Carmen recognizes his last name when the waiter acknowledges him. He is the author of a book she loves. A book about the death of is wife. They share stories about books and family. The longer they sit together, the more they drink. Carmen loosens up a bit and realizes she has only two things in her life that she focuses on; work and family. Relationships were not in the equation. But it had been so long since she had been with anyone, she begins to question if perhaps a no-expectations fling while in France is such a bad idea.
“What’s your name, beautiful girl?”
“Beautiful. Well, Carmen, you were wrong.”
This was our Woody Allen meet-cute.”
As the days pass, the two spend a lot of time together. As do Rosa and Theo’s son Eli. Where Rosa and Eli develop a relationship, Carmen spends the majority of the time with Theo holding back. Afraid to get involved.
“You’re so afraid, Carmen. You’re afraid of letting your family down. You’re afraid of living your life on your terms. You’re afraid to let yourself be happy. And you’re afraid to let yourself love. You’re afraid of all of it. I see it every day, in everything you do.”
Carmen pushes away from Theo and when a family emergency occurs, she and Rosa rush back home leaving Eli and Theo in France. Theo is heartbroken. Having fallen in love with Carmen, the only other person he’s loved besides his wife, he is devastated and begins drinking excessively. His writing suffers. He struggles with the sequel to his memoir.
The journey these two go through to become whole as individuals and in turn as a couple is a rough one. But necessary. And as usual, this author’s writing impeccably details each struggle, turn and triumph. Rooted is about overcoming grief, it’s about love and it’s about accepting fear for what it is, and challenging yourself to be more.
“She is rooted in my heart, and I am free and full.”
I didn’t get enough of the side characters. I ADORED Jordan! He was a character with such depth and emotion I wanted to read more about him and his journey. Eli and Rosa were intriguing. I hope to get more of them and their relationship together. And NICK! I am so excited to get to know him. We first met *wink* in Touch and I’m thrilled to get to read his story on December 20, in Deep! For cover reveal, blurb, prologue AND first chapter, click here. You can preorder now!