What makes a wife a lover?
For Kate, the spark went out of her marriage long ago but her husband doesn't seem to notice. Their role as parents consumes their lives so they need to rekindle the romance they once shared.
What makes a woman a mother?
For Jo, a high-powered career has led her to believe that she doesn't have a single maternal instinct. When an orphan unexpectedly enters her life, she is forced to confront her own unhappy childhood and the walls it has built around her heart.
What makes a man the love of your life?
For Sarah, home is the steamy jungles of Africa while the man of her dreams waits in the air-conditioned confines of Los Angeles. Her longing for this man from the past is blinding her to a new love standing right in front of her.
What these women all have in common is a friend with a generous soul, an irrepressible spirit- and a serious illness. In her final letters, Rachel raises one last question: What makes a friend live in our hearts forever?
Higgins's (Heaven in His Arms) life-affirming novel reduces a fearless foursome to three when the adventurous Rachel Braun dies of cancer at 38. Though Rachel kept her diagnosis a secret from her friends, she wrote each a challenge to be read after her death. Kate Jansen, a married homemaker with three children, is told to skydive ("you're overwhelmed by your life," Rachel writes). In Rachel's view, globe-trotting Doctors Without Borders nurse Sarah Pollard is blinded to love in her grief over her ex: "You need to win him back, or finally say good-bye." But it's Bobbie "Jo" Marcum, a single, commitment-phobic businesswoman, of whom Rachel makes the greatest request, by leaving her custody of her seven-year-old daughter: "Take Grace." Large and small, their decisions affect them all in transformative ways, as when Kate accompanies Sarah to find her ex, now a doctor living in India. Higgins's romantic tendencies (she's penned several romance novels) inform the proceedings; with her mainstream debut, she creates a happy reminder that life is all about taking risks.