Love Walked In
By Michele Rioli
Mar 8, 2007 - 10:22:00 PM

Clare, who is eleven years old, has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. Her mom, Vivianna, has a mental problem and can not take care of Clare anymore. No one knows about Vivianna's condition. One of Clare's plans is to keep silent about what is happening to her mom. Vivianna is losing her sanity, little by little, everyday. Clare is incredibly enraged over the whole situation. She distances herself from the madness that is happening to her mom.

Clare regretfully decides that she needs to make a list. She does not want to forget to do anything in order to make it appear that her home life is normal. She does not want people to think that her mom is unbalanced. Clare reminds herself that her appearance must be spotless, get to bed on time, do her homework, and make herself meals. Most importantly, Clare reminds herself to make sure she asks her friend, Josie, if her mom can drive her to school. Clare is increasingly getting angrier over the stress of taking care of herself and hiding the truth about her mom's condition. Clare wonders how long she can go on like this before she bursts.

Martin, Clare's estranged dad, impeccably handsome in his tailored business suits, does not have any notion on how to exhibit nurturing instincts towards his daughter. Clare realizes this. Clare is remarkably mature for an eleven-year-old. Her dad keeps his distance and Clare really resents him for that. She is extremely upset with him for his indifference to her situation and most importantly his lack of love.

Clare's dad, Martin, is on his way through town. Martin decides to stop in the little café on the corner. The minute he steps in the door he sees a lovely woman behind the cafés counter. Martin crosses the room to make her acquaintance before he loses the nerve. Cornelia, the manager of the café, looks up, entranced by the man who just walked in the door. She feels an immediate surge to be his girlfriend. He has on a fine tailored suit and has an incredibly, classic face. Cornelia is delighted when Martin strikes up a conversation. They have an easy banter as if they are old friends. Martin casually mentions that he has to go on a business trip. He asks Cornelia, if she would like to go with him but Cornelia sweetly declines the offer. Cornelia makes sure Martin has her telephone number before he leaves.

Martin is so enchanted with Cornelia that he has a big gorgeous bouquet of flowers delivered to the café. Cornelia thinks to herself, this is a nice gesture. Martin is interested in her. Next, Martin invites Cornelia out to dinner. Cornelia muses to herself that Martin really likes her! Cornelia reveals herself to Martin, her likes, family life, and sad times. She attempts to get Martin to divulge information about his personal feelings, like heartaches, but he will not say anything. Martin remains a closed book to Cornelia.

Then one day as Cornelia is working behind the counter at the café; Martin brings a young girl in to meet her. Martin regretfully introduces his daughter, Clare, to Cornelia. Cornelia is completely shocked that Martin has a daughter. Cornelia can see that Clare is shivering and trying hard to compose herself. She tentatively reaches out to Clare. Clare breaks into heart-wrenching sobs in the middle of the café and collapses to the floor. Cornelia wraps her arm around the sobbing young girl. She is utterly confused at Martin and the sudden appearance of his daughter. What is going on?

LOVE WALKED IN is an extraordinary, profound story, of sentimental romance, optimism, and unlikely relationships. Marisa De Los Santos has meticulously blended old-fashioned romance with modern day relationships. The plot is ingenuously clever with a masterful dialogue to match. LOVE WALKED IN is a rich tapestry of human relationships that translates love into many exquisite forms. The author brings a wonderful romantic leading man, Martin, into Cornelia's rather boring, lackluster life. The love between Martin and Cornelia is tender and enchanting, eliciting scenes from vintage movies. Cornelia instantly embraces a maternal affection towards eleven-year-old Clare after finding out her mom can not take care of her. Clare takes to Cornelia with fondness and appreciation. I wept with joy when Cornelia offers her unconditional love to Clare in her time of need. Marisa De Los Santos writes with such conviction that I felt so deeply for the characters and all their flaws. This is one of those rare books that will be treasured for years to come.

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