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Rhapsody is a hope-filled tale of healing—the healing of a painful past, hidden behind a mask—and the hope of overcoming it. Ashley Giraud, well-established, popular TV4 anchor has worked her way to the top from the wrong side of the tracks via a Miss Missouri title. Through hard work and dedication, Ashley has been able to achieve a reputation as a trusted newscaster. However, Ashley Giraud is not the person she projects to the public. On-air and in the public eye, she is self-assured, content, and thoughtful in her presentation of the news. Off-air and alone, she is hesitant, withdrawn, and lonely. Overcoming adversity to become the beloved TV personality she is has done little for the woman with a long-held secret. Ashley has been working with her therapist to try to overcome her past but she has never divulged her secret to anyone except that therapist and to little avail. When the doctor encourages her to take risks by establishing friendships, Ashley balks.
Over the course of the story, the secret Ashley has carried for twenty years slowly comes to light. Because of it, Ashley has always been careful of everything she says and does among co-workers, acquaintances, and the public—and because of it, she’s not about to get mixed up with a group of people who regularly get together in an intimate setting for support and sharing. However, almost against her will, she finds herself caught up with the group—and liking it—especially because of Julia Whitethorn.
Julia owns Rhapsody, a hair styling salon with a high-quality reputation. When Ashley is forced to find a new hairdresser, the station sets up a contract with the salon. The agreement says: no changes to Ashley’s hair color, style, or general appearance without prior agreement. Turns out, that contract is a direct parallel to Ashley’s own life, where change is hard to imagine and the status quo, no matter how difficult for her to live with, is deeply ingrained. For her part, Julia Whitethorn is very intrigued with Miss Giraud, and quickly draws the TV personality out of her shell with her easy-going ways—and when she does, Ashley starts to see daylight through the crack in her protective shell. Trouble is, she doesn’t know if the light will illuminate the way to a new sense of freedom or if it will blind her.
Rhapsody is populated with characters that are funny, enchanting, and most of all, respectful of one another, in spite of their very different backgrounds. The group is made up of four friends. Teddie is flamboyant and flippant, and so much younger than the rest of the group; but she’s accepted as one of them, even with her biker persona. Elaine and Robyn, who are a couple, are steady and supportive; and Julia is so much more than she appears to be, as Ashley quickly discovers. The hidden gem of Julia’s personality makes her all the more attractive to Ashley in spite of her reserve and hesitation.
What Ashley needs to learn is that friends—real friends—are to be treasured and trusted. And love—true love—shouldn’t be thrown away just because there’s risk involved. Julia and Ashley must learn difficult lessons as they dance through the music of their lives. Ashley must find the courage to take off her mask and just be herself among friends, and particularly around Julia, who has the potential to be the love of her life. First, however, Ashley must face her past in order to let it go and let the healing begin. Trouble is, if she doesn’t let Julia in to help her, it might not be possible to overcome the deep, dark secret that she keeps carefully hidden from everyone.
MacGregor has given us a lovely “rhapsody” with characters swaying back and forth to the melody of their lives, as they join one another in the dance. The unfolding story allows us to see underneath the mask each character wears and to be carried away by a tale of love, acceptance, hope and healing. This story is told with true KG MacGregor heart and quickly gets under the skin.
By KG MacGregor
Paperback, 9781594932939, 242 pp.