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Samantha “Sam” Murphy’s business is leading people up the challenging Himalayan peak of Annapurna I. She’s proud of the fact that in all the years she’s been at it, she’s not lost one hiker during the dangerous journey. Murphy’s Law as Sam knows it is that everyone returns from the mountain alive, no exceptions. Even though Sam keeps on her toes ensuring everyone else’s well-being, she’s constantly battling against being overcome by the memories of her own bitter loss of years ago—the past that she’s still grieving, and the past with which she’s still uncomfortable. Because of her own emotional turmoil, she’s determined to keep her distance from the charming Dr. Olivia Bradshaw, especially when the doctor offers her a chance for a little recreational diversion on the trip. It’s not that Sam isn’t up for such things. It’s just that there’s something about Olivia that makes Sam realize an affair with her might lead to more than she bargained for. Olivia has some demons of her own to conquer. Never one to actually invest in a relationship, she’s drawn to Sam with feelings that are new to her—and she battles to figure out what she wants to do with them, because if she yields to them, she’s afraid her walls will come tumbling down around her.
As we join the troupe Dr. Bradshaw has assembled for a fund raising trip up the mountain, we meet a diverse group of people. Some are unlikely candidates for the trek; some are perfect for the team. Not all will make it up the mountain. Who does and who doesn’t makes for some interesting surprises. Sam’s team of Nepalese natives are delightful minor characters moving in the shadows to help make the trip successful. It quickly becomes clear that they are experienced climbers and devoted to Sam and her mountainous endeavors. As the adventure progresses, we see that, without Sam and her team, Olivia and friends would be in deep trouble. There are perilous obstacles to be overcome as the remaining group makes the final attack on the mountain. As they continue the grueling trip upward, more and more of what each person is made is exposed to the reader. The trip has taken weeks, more to acclimate to the breath-robbing high altitude than from shear distance. The barriers and hindrances are larger than life as they become symbols for the issues that Sam and Olivia must deal with if there is to be any chance that they will be able to have a real relationship.
In Murphy’s Law, Wallace has given us well drawn descriptions of both the beauty and the treachery of the mountain. The main characters quickly seem like familiar friends and we long for them to overcome adversity and fill the crevasses they carry in their hearts. The complexity of their personalities makes us willing to follow them up the mountain to see if they will succeed in reaching the top and conquering their personal issues and their loneliness and longing.
The mountain’s metaphor for love becomes clear during the reading. It’s a demanding trek up the mountain with obstacles to be conquered and adversity to be surmounted. Two women are forced to face their fear of intimacy and if they succeed, triumphant love is in their future. However, before that can happen, they have a great deal of work to do. It would be easier just to sit on the side of the hiking path and let all the other climbers pass them by, but with two people the likes of Sam Murphy and Olivia Bradshaw, that’s not likely to happen. Prepare to be thrilled by a love story filled with high adventure as they move toward an ending as turbulent as the weather on a Himalayan peak.
By Yolanda Wallace
Paperback, 9781602827738, 184 pp.
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