Keegs met Mae on a train ride through a wild animal park when they were barely teenagers. Sparks flew, and the two hours they spent together altered their lives. Their first kiss kept their hearts connected for more than two decades.
Dr. Keegan Wade is the Chief of Trauma Surgery at NYC General Hospital. At 40, her life revolves around her job, keeping her on her toes 24/7. There’s never been anyone waiting at home for her, and the pressure she’s under is beginning to take its toll. She can’t sleep, and when she manages to catch an hour or two, it’s due in large part to the scotch she’s had before bed. She’s afraid she’s lost her surgical mojo, and on the suggestion of a friend, she decides to take a long overdue vacation. Keegan settles on a cross-country train ride on a perfectly restored steam train.
Willow Lord (Mae) is a social worker just out of college at the age of 39. She’s desperately trying to find a job before her first student loan payment is due. She’s living in poverty after divorcing her husband of nine years, and she hasn’t the means nor time for a vacation. When her best friend, Nicole, insists on taking her on a trip, Willow sends off her resumes and packs her bags. The two women board The Frisco Express – New York City to California for its last excursion before retiring to a locomotive museum.
It doesn’t take long for Willow to figure out that Dr. Wade is her one-and-only Keegs. Keegan can’t help but wonder if it’s fate. Twenty-six years have passed since their first train ride together, and their lives couldn’t be more different.
Can the first stirrings of love they felt as teenagers be enough to bridge the vast differences between their present-day worlds?
There’s a very classic feel to the main characters in Twice Upon a Train. Keegan is the dashing hero—tall, dark, and handsome. Willow is the girl next door—charming and feminine. Like a magnet and metal, they exist in a field where they are naturally pulled toward each other.
Dr. Keegan Wade exudes confidence. She is an exceptional and gifted surgeon, and she leads a lifestyle her position affords her. Yet beneath her dapper exterior, she is troubled and plagued with anxiety. She seems to be waiting for everything to come crashing down around her, and she’s at a loss as to how she can help herself. Her journey on The Frisco Express is metaphorical. It’s an opportunity for her to escape the tension and malaise of her current life and find a way back to the self-possessed doctor she was at the beginning of her career. As the train crosses the country on its final trek, Keegan discovers that her journey is just beginning.
There’s a degree of innocence to Willow Lord that I found refreshing in a 39-year-old woman. She’s reinventing herself after divorcing a man she didn’t really love, and she’s pursuing a career that’s focused on service rather than salary. At first, I thought she was going to be a bit meek for my liking, watching her best friend boss her around. However, there’s a quiet strength in Willow that persists, and it seems to grow as she spends more time with Keegan. It doesn’t take long for her to accept she has feelings for a woman, and it makes perfect sense when she looks at her track record with men. Kind and warm-hearted, Willow is able to penetrate Keegan’s bold façade. She brings Keegan peace and a comforting shoulder to cry on. It’s Willow’s steady presence that allows Keegan to reclaim her passion for practicing medicine. I think everyone deserves a Willow in her life.
The Writing Style
Twice Upon a Train was so easy to get comfortable in, and it took me on a relaxing excursion as if I were another passenger on the train. Moll does an exceptional job creating the specific environments the reader gets to inhabit throughout the book. The attention to detail while Keegan and Willow are on The Frisco Express is amazing. I loved reading every luxurious detail down to the colors of the window shades and the finish on the dining room tables. When the excursion is over, Moll does a nice job noting the difference between Keegan’s and Willow’s lives. The juxtaposition between Willow’s barely inhabitable apartment and the opulence of Keegan’s high-rise condo reflects just one of the challenges to their happily ever after.
I’ve always dreamed of taking a cross-country train trip. I love the idea of a leisurely vacation through beautiful countrysides, small towns, and sprawling urban hubs. It was easy to imagine myself on The Frisco Express, dressing for meals in the dining car and reading a good book in the observation car.
Nothing from me.
Twice Upon a Train is a delightful romance. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The book had some lovely surprises for me. I thought I knew where the plot was taking me, and Moll took the storyline in a different direction. I’m thrilled when an author proves I’m not the smarty pants I think I am. I loved spending half the book on the rain with Keegan and Willow. Each of them is so sympathetic, I think I could have spent another 100 pages with them. Keegan stole my heart with her generous nature and when a main character does something particularly gallant it always gets me all choked up. This is the first novel I’ve read by Moll, and it won’t be my last.
Excerpt from Twice Upon a Train by KA Moll
Willow opened her eyes, remembering a girl on another train. Almost the same age, thirteen and fourteen, they’d come to know one another in the span of two hours. Funny, how with some people—the knowing—took no time at all. Her stomach fluttered, realizing that the distinctive coloring of her eyes had connected the dots. She’d wondered about her, worried about her, but hadn’t had a way to contact her because she hadn’t known where she was. She’d prayed for her, that night, and the nights that followed. But as the years passed, she’d moved on—getting pregnant, marrying, losing a baby, and divorcing—with only fleeting thoughts of her. And in all that time, she’d told no one, not one single person, about the girl who’d left her mark—not her grandparents on the drive home; not her mom, although they did sometimes talk; not her husband, though he’d had the right to know; and not Nicole, definitely not Nicole. Her eyes prickled with tears, realizing that the girl on the train had become a woman, a handsome woman, a woman to whom she found herself attracted. And with that, she got up, slipping on her robe.
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