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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

The Parting Gift
by Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders

Tea, flowers and an open book on a table in the garden - Used to feature my book reviews


Cover image of the book 'The Parting Gift' by authors Rachel Van Dyken and Leah SandersBlaine Graham lost his mother at the tender age of eleven. Grief over the loss drove a wedge between him and his father, and soon proved too difficult for him to deal with.

At the age of sixteen, he falsified his papers and made the trip across the border into Canada with his best friend to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and enter the war in Europe as a pilot.

Ten years later Captain Graham finds himself flying commercial jets in Boston – his estranged father and his past life all but forgotten, until the day he receives a telegram from his dying father asking him to come home.

The persistent Mara Crawford, a live-in nurse, has experienced her fair share of loss as well. Her attachment to Blaine’s father drives her desire to bring reconciliation between the two men before time runs out for her patient. But her best laid plans didn’t include falling in love again.

Cover image of the book 'The Parting Gift' by authors Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders


Rachel Van Dyken hails originally from Washington State USA, grew up in a small town and now lives with her husband in Idaho.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and a Master’s degree in Business, before working for several years as a school counselor. Finding herself becoming increasingly emotionally involved and stressed amidst all the drama around her, she turned to writing romance, a passion and dream she had indulged in since childhood.

Since having her first book published, she has turned to writing full-time and her career and success has gone from strength to strength.

Rachel maintains that although all of her novels have a definite message, they should also be a delightful escape and never stressful for the reader.

There is a fantastic interview with Rachel, by Fiona over at Inspiration Forum, which makes for an entertaining, informative and enjoyable read.

Oh! and best of all, she is a fellow Disney addict, so all’s well!!!

Visit Rachel at her website

Follow Rachel on Twitter

Like Rachel’s Facebook page


Leah Sanders is the middle child of seven, attended high school in Alaska, moved to Florida to attend college and now also lives in Idaho with her husband and three children.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree  in Secondary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, before becoming a full-time English teacher in a local high school, a career which she still tries to juggle with her love of romance writing.

Like Leah’s Facebook page


Cover image of the book 'The Parting Gift' by authors Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders



“David Graham stood over his wife’s grave while the minister prayed. Her favorite spring lilies adorned her casket, and she would be laid to rest under the shade of a beautiful maple, just like the tree he had proposed under at that picnic over twenty years ago.”



“Logan Tower, flight one-seven-November-two-Bravo requesting permission to land.”

“This is Logan Tower, Captain. You are clear to land.”

Captain Blaine Graham banked to the left and brought the plane around into position to bring her safely onto the landing strip. The sun filtered over the eastern horizon, reflecting off the water surrounding  most of the Logan International Airport.”

Cover image of the book 'The Parting Gift' by authors Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders


The synergy and collaborative thinking between two independent authors, coming together to co-write something as difficult as the short novella, must be something very special.

Rachel and Leah have pulled this off spectacularly with ‘The Parting Gift’, to produce:- A compact novella which manages to incorporate a well-defined beginning, middle and end; an escapist and not too overly emotional read, which still manages to incorporate a serious message within its pages; a great story to curl up with of an evening and one which is comfortably readable in one or two sittings.

There are some great articles out there about the authors as individuals, however none of them discuss the complexities of writing as a couple, so if either Leah or Rachel happen to come across this post, I would invite them to leave a comment about this aspect of  ‘The Parting Gift’, as an extra discussion point to the article, although I have discovered that Leah is responsible for the evocative and emotional prologue, which sets the scene so beautifully.

Once the correlation between the prologue and the main storyline was established (although I was left to speculate on what had occurred in the intervening 15 year interval), the plot became obvious and transparent quite quickly, so that I knew exactly what the end-game was going to be. However the build-up and plot construction was well managed and orchestrated, and hung together well as a sequence of events that wasn’t too rushed or hurried, despite the book having such a modest number of pages.

The characters were complex yet strong, very well defined and all ‘grew’ into their individual roles nicely, as the story progressed. The changes that the characters brought to bear on one another, were wrought through determination, persistence and the underlying knowledge that through their individual grief and conflict, they were all starved of the ability to give and receive love. It would only be when they could all open their hearts and minds to the inner emotional conflicts of one another, that the healing process could begin and from there forgiveness and love would automatically follow.

Mara has suffered her share of loss and grief, although she deals with it in a much more controlled way than the two men seem able to, with her quiet faith and belief that love can bring about a change to the most broken heart and stubborn mind.

David acted with the best of intentions by trying to shield his son from the terrors of loss and bereavement at such a young age, but was so unable to come to terms with his own grief and devastation at being left alone, that he couldn’t see that Blaine was the lasting link to his deceased wife. Instead of nurturing and protecting this precious and lasting legacy, he only succeeds in pushing him away, to shield himself from both his own pain and the pleading he sees in his son’s eyes.

Blaine has never been able to forgive his father for what he sees as this complete and utter rejection, when all he ultimately sought was his father’s love and understanding. As a defence mechanism he then completely rejected his father, hardened his heart and built a tough and unbreakable shell around himself, which he allowed no-one to penetrate.

Three stubborn people, leading broken and damaged lives, who will ultimately only be reconciled by a life-changing set of circumstances, which they need to confront and deal with as individuals, before they are able to come together one last time. Fate will once again deal a blow that will re-shape their destiny, but their new found strength will be the bond that keeps them strong.

A character driven story, with a complex and difficult storyline, dealt with in a mature and sensitive narrative, that was touching and emotional, yet in no way left me feeling as though I had been preached to.


One of a series of books which was made available free of charge by its publisher, Astraea Press, as part of their first birthday celebrations.

This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog article I may post. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.


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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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Written by Yvonne