Love in the Time of Corona by Elena Graf is the third book in the Hobbs universe and is topical, dealing as it does with the Coronavirus. It is full of warmth and heart and is not depressing. You could read this book as stand-alone although I wouldn’t recommend it because you’ll miss so much of the back story. It continues to follow the women and men that we’ve met in the previous volumes and adds the threat of a pandemic followed by the arrival of the virus. There is plenty of love, though, of friends and family and more than a little romance.
The romance focus is on a new pairing between the police chief and the physician’s assistant. Brenda Harrison is the chief of police in Hobbs and is confident and sure of herself on the outside. That is until she meets Cherie Bois, who looks at her with hatred and treats her with an icy disdain from the moment they meet. Cherie is relatively new to Hobbs and works at the surgery of Liz Stoltz. She has re-trained from being a psychiatric social worker and has a background that starts to explain why she acts the way she does. Can they manage to get together?
The book continues the lives of the six main characters in the Hobbsiverse, but I’ll only focus on one of them. Dr. Liz Stolz has been in all the books and is once again central character because she can see the pandemic coming. She is struggling to make people aware and has worked out exactly how devastating the virus can be. She is worried about how the illness will affect her family and friends and play out with her finances. I love her generosity of time, her love, and care for people in her world. Her internal journey keeps you wondering for the entire book, and the writing is exquisite.
Of the romance pairing, Cherie Bois is Liz’s physician assistant and has to seek counsel because she finds herself attracted to Brenda, the chief of police. She is frightened of both the police and guns. Although Cherie is white, she identifies as black, and the discussions she has both in counseling and with others starts to explain her issues as we take her journey with her. Brenda is a contrast to Cherie, a butch with a much more direct personality and a protective and gentlemanly attitude. Their initial meet-ups do not go well, but Brenda does not give up.
The Writing Style
Graf writes quite dryly with a straight-forward no-nonsense approach. Many layers in this story will undoubtedly ring bells to readers throughout the world with the pandemic and all its personal stories. It reflects the worries we have all have, in terms of finances and illnesses and of PPE and death. Also, echoes of the choices and the risks in this strange lockdown time and the fear that has invaded our lives.
Despite it all, Graf manages to ensure that you want to both read and continue to read the story, which has romance, love, and lust too.
There are also links to the music that appears in the book, which add a little atmosphere to an already emotional read.
Love in the time of Corona is a well written and warm story detailing how a community deals with Covid-19. There are times when I laughed, and yes, I did need a tissue once. But while giving me all the feels, the book is not maudling. The characters are starting to feel like friends, and the story ensures we realize just because women are over 50, they are still real people. They love and lust, they have practical and emotional skills and needs and fears and prejudices.
There were no triggers for me, and Graf deals with the pandemic beautifully, but I should mention that the book does deal with a death that may upset some readers.
Once again, Graf managed to leave me speechless. Her Hobbsiverse and the people in it managed to be so uplifting. The love between the women and their families sprinkled with warmth, lust, and love is priceless. The physical and emotional ties between them are beautifully described, and the problems that lockdown causes, and the risks and fears are a major feature of this story. The added depth provided by the racial issues of Cherie Bois made me wonder if Graf has a crystal ball in her writing arsenal.
Excerpt from Love in the Time of Corona by Elena Graf
“Not many people know I’m biracial.”
Lucy had to force herself not to show surprise. With her blond hair and stunning blue-green eyes, Cherie looked completely Caucasian. Yes, her skin was slightly darker than most white women, and she had beautifully shaped, full lips, but nothing else about her appearance even hinted at an Afro-American heritage.
“My grandmother was black,” explained Cherie. “She was quite a woman, the principal of the black elementary school. My white grandfather absolutely adored her. She was gorgeous. So was my mother, who could also pass for white. I’m only one-quarter black. Of course, in the South, they have the one drop rule. If you have even one drop of black blood, you’re black.”
“I never would have guessed,” Lucy honestly admitted.
“No one ever does. People ask if I’m Scandinavian because of my coloring. There are a lot of olive-complected Scandinavians. My blond hair and blue eyes make people think I must be white.”
“Is that a problem for you?”
“Yes, because I identify as a black woman. My mother never tried to deny her heritage. She cooked traditional black food as well as Creole dishes. The church we attended was a black church. My father felt a little strange at first, but he fit right in. There’s so much warmth in a black church. That’s why I love St. Margaret’s. It’s not a black church, but I feel the warmth.”
“That’s wonderful to hear,” said Lucy, smiling. “But back to police officers. What’s your issue with them?”
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The More the Merrier: A Hobbs Christmas Story
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781733449274
- Publisher: Purple Hand Press
- Elena Graf Online
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