Having read a number of books by Barbara Delinsky, this reviewer comes to expect a certain level of quality from her books. What I’ve also discovered is that her earlier novels, at least the ones I have read, are a lot more simplistic in structure and style than her more recent novels. Books such as The Woman Next Door and Coast Road are novels with complex relationships and personalities that are three-dimensional. However, her earlier books which were often pure romance, are just that: romance, with not much else going.
With that said, Moment to Moment is a reissue of one of Delinsky’s earlier romances. Although this reviewer did not feel it stood the test of time, the book has everything a romance calls for: A man and a woman that meet under certain circumstances; find an attraction to each other; encounters an obstacle that keeps them apart in one way or another; and finally they resolve their problem and make their relationship work.
In this case, the man and woman are Russ Ettinger and Dana Madison. Russ was once an Olympic-geared skier, but because of an injury to his knee he is no longer able to ski, but has since been running a sports equipment store and teaches others how to ski. His dream to become an Olympic-level athlete is gone, but he tries to forget the past and has moved on. Dana is a young woman who had been plagued by asthma for most of her life, thus shaping the person she has become today. She had been over-protected by her family to the point where she believed that she had to live a limited sort of life because of her recurring asthma attacks. As an adult, she spends her days at the library, where she works every day in a quiet atmosphere where her asthma attacks do not exist. But she has a yearning to do more than just work in the library and read books.
So, Dana takes up running. Her family feels that this is endangering her life, but she knows that this is the only thing that makes her feel alive. And the fact that her asthma attacks are becoming less frequent tells her that this was the right decision for her to make, despite the warnings she got from doctors and family members.
One evening, after a stressful day with her family, Dana is out running near her house, when she has an asthma attack. Russ is also running along the side of the road and sees Dana and knows she needs help. He doesn't know she’s having an asthma attack, but as he approaches her he offers to get his car so he can drive her home. Dana, being too proud to ask for help, lies to him and says she’ll wait until he comes to get her in his vehicle, but when he returns with the car, she has disappeared. Russ’s curiosity about Dana is aroused, and he is desperate to find her again.
Russ does eventually locate her and pursues her romantically. Dana is afraid to start a relationship due to a disastrous relationship years ago. Things get complicated as Dana refuses to tell Russ about her asthma, ashamed of her “handicap” and not wanting any pity from him. On the other hand, Russ omits telling Dana about his past as an athlete, not wanting to have any pity from her as well. It’s a typical scenario that is incorporated into romances, with misunderstandings between two potential lovers threatening to keep the couple apart.
While I am a big fan of Barbara Delinsky, I find that her earlier romances are not at the same level of writing as her more recent novels. This could be attributed to Delinsky’s skills as a writer, improving with time and experience. On the other hand, while some romances written years ago still “feel right” when read today, Moment to Moment is not a bad read but it lacks some of the qualities this reviewer looks for in a romance. There is no connection with any of the characters, nor any feeling of empathy for them. This reviewer does acknowledge that comparing Delinsky’s more recent novels to her older ones is a bit unfair, but if given a preference, her more recent books win by a long shot. This was certainly not one of her best novels, but for someone looking for a quick read to pass the time, Moment to Moment could be it. It’s not poorly written, but it is not one that will be remembered years from now.