Shopping for yogurt can change your life, especially when it brings together two strikingly attractive twenty-somethings. Chris immediately responds to Rebecca, setting up a first date. Could this be the result of the alignment of the stars, an inborn response to hormones and pheromones, or God’s using biology to call two people to the vocation of marriage?
Confident and heroically virtuous about ninety percent of the time, Chris asks Rebecca to trust him. Rebecca, a prime candidate for the Extreme Makeover TV show, believes in Chris and grows emotionally, despite her major hang-ups. Their casual meeting leads to love, as in: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Unfortunately, Rebecca cannot love or forgive herself. How can she believe Chris’ “I love you?” Does she suspect deceit, seeing herself as unlovable?
Magnificently appealing, but blemished humans, Chris and Rebecca come alive with all their emotions as they ride the rocky road of romance. Their “Joyride” winds through some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic vistas and historical sites with the musical accompaniment of Dave Matthews Band, or something that sounds just like it.
Astfalk’s supporting characters include Abby, the public breast-feeding sister of Rebecca. Snarky Abby has all the best lines in “Stay with Me,” revealing the most intimate “female” secrets: the things girls never discuss in front of their boyfriends, never, never, ever! An equal opportunity dealer in irritation, she finds ways to embarrass Chris. Abby has something to offend everybody. To her credit, she can wax philosophical and offer comfort. While Rebecca cowers under the influence of their puritanical father, Abby flaunts her independence, perking up every scene in which she appears.
Fr. John Cavanaugh, contemporary and friend to both Chris and Rebecca serves as their spiritual advisor and confessor, especially as the couple’s attraction seems to overwhelm them. Fr. John proves as human as anyone else, coping with his own temptations and seeming failures. His liturgies serve as models with their warmth and their intimacy, a true love affair with his congregation.
As Carolyn Astfalk’s first published novel, “Stay with Me” bursts with realistic characters, scenic background, humor, heartache and jubilee. Stay with Rebecca and Chris as they complete each other.
Carolyn is a valued member of the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group who has helped me with my own writing. She supplied me with an advance copy of “Stay with Me.”