After his third DUI, Mark Madison is overjoyed when his older, more responsible brother Blaine pulls some strings and offers him a Get-out-of-Jail-Free card by sending him to a minute Mexican village to oversee a building project for orphans. Mark, a 32-year-old single man who is permanently enjoying a life of fiesta, plans to make the most of this respite. But even the best-laid schemes can be and often are hijacked by circumstances, people, and most importantly, God. Even before arriving in Mexicalli, Mark has another car accident, and thus he enters this smallish town aback a truck of pigs smelling of swine and trying to shake off one that had become attached to his very person.
Corinne Diaz, a 27-year-old with a heart for people --- especially those without family, since she was once orphaned and then adopted --- looks upon the newcomer with the pig in both confusion and amusement. Then, as the swine runs wild, such commotion and near disaster ensues that Corinne is momentarily distracted as she races to the rescue of an elderly woman on a runaway burro-bound cart. Mark, seeing impending catastrophe, rushes forward and brings the cart to a halt. It is after this heroic act that Corinne gets her first up close and personal look at him --- and her response is one of contempt. "We danced at your brother's wedding...just before you became sick on my shoes." With a sigh, Mark asks himself if his day could get any worse.
Seemingly, Mark's reputation for living the high life cannot escape him. And yet, as the days pass --- those long, hot, never-getting-much-accomplished-South-of-the-border days --- Corinne and Mark find common ground in the oddities of the Mexican village. Their living conditions, the food, the help, even the social customs and the superstitions combine to make their conversations and humiliations more conducive to geniality and humor. While Mark attempts (often futilely) to get the orphanage into sound working order, Corinne's business savvy in working with the villagers helps the couple find further common ground --- but not without some injurious, cutting remarks, wounded emotions, and lots of inner reflecting. It seems that both are on a mission to erect a building and to tear down whatever ails the soul.
Author Linda Windsor offers a humorous yet lightly romantic tale that gratefully is profuse in its subtle comedic style. Windsor's characters are likable because they're so real, and as their foibles are so honestly portrayed, readers will smile when they commiserate with their frequently self-inflicted emotional pain. With easy conversation, the author provides not simply a story to amuse and entertain, but also slips in some biblical principles on offering forgiveness, not judgment; grace instead of condemnation. Above all, female fans will embrace Windsor's message not to become wallowed in yesterday's failures, whether they be poor choices, wrong attitudes, or faulty preconceptions. Today is a new day to embrace hope and life and start again.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011