Face the Music
by Kerri Malloy

Bedside Books, An Imprint of American Book Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, 2002. ISBN 1589820703.
Reviewed by Lisa Shirah-Hiers
Posted on 12/28/2003

Fiction: Romance

Love hurts, but ultimately, it's worth it. That's the message behind Kerri Malloy's moving first novel, Face the Music. The well-constructed plot rises above the usual romance novel with life-like twists and turns that keep you guessing until the last page. It centers on two characters: Lana, a nurse and hospital administrator who lost her husband and daughter in an automobile accident, and Trevor, a famous rock musician whose best friend has just died in a plane crash. The two are brought together by Judy, Lana's best friend and former therapist, and Trevor's aunt. Judy hopes Lana's medical expertise will help them evaluate Trevor's difficult daughter, Lily, whom they suspect has fetal alcohol syndrome. Judy also hopes that sharing their experiences of grief will help both Lana and Trevor move on in their lives.

Ms. Malloy does an excellent job of developing the complicated relationship between Trevor and Lana. Their reactions to each other are refreshingly real and often funny. In one typical scene, Lana is trying to convince Trevor to let Lily be evaluated by a doctor so that a program of study can be created for her at a nearby preschool.

"Will you at least meet with Dr. Lake and talk about the program?"

"Christ, Lana, you don't give up, do you?"

"Not when I think something's this important."

He noticed her bottom lip had protruded just a little in what he guessed was a pout. "You're not going to pull that on me."

"Pull what?" she asked innocently.

"That pouting routine."

"I'm not pouting."

"You certainly are. Here, let me show you." He moved closer and gently rubbed the pad of his index finger over her bottom lip. "See, this here is a pout."

Though Face the Music is essentially a romance novel, the secret of Lily's parentage that drives the plot, the rich use of detail, and the equal attention given to the relationships between Lana and Judy, and Trevor and Judy keep it interesting. The main characters feel real, with complex psyches, histories that move their actions, reactions and dialogue. The minor characters, by contrast, are shallow, and the dialect of the maternal housekeeper, Irma, really gets in the way. Still, Malloy's masterly crafting of the healing both Lana and Trevor experience, her poignant portrayal of grief, friendship, forgiveness and love make Face the Music a compelling read. Hope we can look forward to more from Ms. Malloy as she perfects her craft.

Born and raised in Connecticut and mother of two boys, Kerri Malloy left a 20 year career in corporate America to pursue her true passion: writing. Face the Music is her first novel.

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