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As And a Time to Dance opens, Corey Banner and Judy Wagner meet at a softball tournament for the first time. Without hesitation, the two women begin a romantic dance punctuated by everyday life. The relationship lasts for six years, and Corey and Judy are still in love, although Corey is somewhat frustrated at the long hours Judy’s job demands. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Corey is devastated and set adrift on a tumultuous sea of loss and uncertainty. Even an attempt to return to normalcy by engaging in a new relationship two years later ends in disaster, when Corey is accused of living in the shadows of her past. The end of a relationship Corey was never sure she wanted in the first place leaves her jittery and forces her to take a long look at where her life is headed.
In an impulsive move, Corey decides to head off from her Michigan home to explore the Rocky Mountains, something she and Judy had talked about doing together when it seemed that life, and their relationship, would go on forever. She strikes out for a stay in Grand Lake, Colorado, hoping to find work as well as healing. At her destination, she meets Erin Flannery and her Aunt Tess, co-owners of the Rainbow Lodge, Corey’s initial destination. Tess quickly takes Corey’s measure and offers her a position at the lodge as head of the maintenance department using her expertise honed working for her dad’s construction business. Erin, however, is not as quick as her aunt to trust Corey’s abilities—or her friendship.
Erin has had her own hard knocks. Abandoned years before by someone she thought she’d be with for the rest of her life Erin now runs from any kind of commitment, playing the field in order to avoid heartbreak. She beds one short term resident at the Lodge after another and tries to think it’s enough. Her aunt is concerned. Her mother is appalled. Erin thinks she’s happy; but denial is a poor cover for the sadness and loss she feels.
As the two women are thrown together in their work and in their personal lives, walls start to crumble. But crumbling walls are difficult to clear away and the rubble makes joining in a romantic dance difficult. Miscommunications come across as unfeeling, even uncaring, as Corey and Erin battle their way toward making tentative advances trying to find a dance steps they are willing to take together. If they can’t find their way, they may be destined to dance alone—or not at all.
In And a Time to Dance, Paynter portrays the beauty of the Rocky Mountain scenery without taking us out of the story. She has given us a heart-wrenching story of love and loss and the journey of two women who long to find their way to the healing and romantic possibilities of their lives Corey and Erin are likeable and the story has a background melody that makes us long for them to reach out to one another before it’s too late. In a plot tinted with melancholy and longing, these two women try to over and over again to trust their hearts and reach out to one another toward wholeness, life, and the promise of love. However, they will only get there if they’re willing to take a risk, and sometimes even the promise doesn’t seem like it’s enough, especially when Erin’s so-called relationships keep getting in their way, trying to cut in on Corey and Erin’s dance. In the end, it is confronting and overcoming fear that may finally these two open their hearts and allow them to stop running. And a Time to Dance tells a story of two women working to get beyond confusion and tumult. It’s an achingly beautiful story set in the splendor of the Colorado Mountains. Who could ask for more?
And a Time to Dance
By Chris Paynter
Blue Feather Press
Paperback, 9781935627647, 202 pp.