I spent the first half of the novel, “Vacation” by Santa Rosa author J.C. (Jeanne) Miller, frustrated with the main characters. William Koval, the protagonist of the story, has a hard time speaking his mind and standing up for himself. Annie Logan, the woman he ends up falling for, has no trouble speaking her mind by either running away or putting up an angry front – even when doing so seems completely heartless and over the top.
However, as the layers of their wounds began to unpeel, I began to see that these were, in fact, two very fragile people who had been brought together by their shared understanding of tragedy.
The story of “Vacation” introduces Dr. William Koval as a workaholic physician who is still mourning the loss of his late wife, Kathleen, three years after she was murdered. William still can't find it in him to move much beyond his loss, though he manages by holding a stony front to the outside world.
It wasn't until his supervisor urges him to take a much needed vacation that he takes a break from work and the mundane day-to-day. However, instead of finding some nice beach to lay on or other relaxing type of holiday, he decides to take the vacation his late wife had always wanted to take, ensuring her memory would compound the duration of his getaway.
William's journey takes him across the ocean for a walking tour of England. He is accompanied by a group of other vacationing tourists, all with their wide breadth of quirks and tendencies. I found Miller's way of painting a scene with varying characters refreshing; giving a distinct voice to each persona so that you could actually envision the way they walked and talked.
Of note was Annie Logan, a woman that slowly captures William's attention. She's sweet and smart, modest and lovely; and soon William discovers he can't keep his mind off of her. It doesn't hurt that she also lives close by to where he does, though they both traveled all the way to England to discover this truth.