Once in a Blue Moon
Brynda Seymour, divorced mother of a college-age daughter, works as an obit writer and enjoys the company of her longtime boyfriend. But Bryn harbors a childhood secret that has been tearing at her heart since the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Painful memories wash over her like a tidal wave when she runs into a mysterious man at NASA and finds him on an old family movie film reel. Could he be the key to unveiling what really happened the day her mother died?
Bryn was nine years old the afternoon a strange man in a black suit came to the door and argued with her mother. After he left, her mother lay face down on the floor, an ugly red mark marring her cheek. Her mother downed drink after drink, then turned from drinking to sobbing. Desperate to help, Bryn found a variety of prescription pills in the medicine cabinet and gathered up a handful, knowing her mother would know which one to choose. She never expected her mother to take them all. As Bryn watched that “giant step for mankind” on television, she didn’t know that her mother was quietly slipping away. Everyone believed it was a suicide, and Bryn never said a word to the contrary. Not even when a priest said her mother would burn in hell for taking her own life.
Forty years have passed since the historic lunar landing coincided with Bryn’s horrific moment of truth, when she realized her mother was dead. If it weren’t for her daughter, Ginger, Bryn would have no incentive to live. After all, how does one enjoy life after killing her own mother? But now another incentive has come her way --- the possibility of unraveling the mystery that led to her mother’s demise. Calling Howard, the stranger from NASA, leads Bryn on what appears to be a wild goose chase. Clues lead her to one obscure location, then another, until she finds herself in a remote wooded area where an attractive man questions her motives. Blindfolded, she is led through the woods and secret passageways to an underground hideaway. There she again encounters Howard and discovers that the younger man who questioned her earlier is Howard’s son, Sam.
Howard is obsessed with a conspiracy theory, believing the U.S. government is covering up facts about buildings on the moon and life on other planets. He works night and day to prove his theory, and is certain “they” are out to get him the way “they” got Bryn’s mother. Sam is a pastor trying to get reacquainted with his estranged father and come to grips with his own divorce. Little by little, interesting information about Howard, Sam and Bryn’s mother come to light. As Bryn tries to sort through the truths and tales coming her way, she finds her heart pulled toward Sam, a man of faith. But faith is not a concept with which Bryn feels comfortable. Could God really forgive her for killing her mother? And is it possible that two people as different as she and Sam could end up together? It only happens ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.
Author Leanna Ellis blends mystery, faith and Men in Black to create a light, interesting story that keeps you entertained and guessing. It’s easy to empathize with Brynda, fall in love with Sam and imagine yourself in the middle of this unconventional plot. No matter what your beliefs about conspiracies and “little green men,” you’ll be sure to enjoy the twists and turns of this quirky story.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on March 1, 2010