'Three Rivers': Love, Pittsburgh style, done right
September 7, 2014 12:00 AM
By Lorinda Hayes
Pittsburgh: the place of wild and kinky one-night-stands? Pittsburgh men: hot, sexy, worldwide adventurers and novelists? Football: midget, high school or otherwise? Lucky for us, we have new residents, including popular romance writer Chloe T. Barlow, who relocate here and find the sexy in our bridges, parks, neighborhoods and even the Cathedral of Learning.
Ms. Barlow’s debut novel, “Three Rivers (A Gateway to Love Novel, Vol. 1)” (CreateSpace, $13.99), is exactly that — not only was I able to see our city through new eyes, but also I was able to enjoy a geographically accurate and exciting story that made me content to be here rather than in LA, NYC or even the Seattle home of Christian Grey.
Althea is the young widow of a CMU Robotics Institute researcher who tragically drowned in the Allegheny River after a pre-Christmas skidding accident. Althea finds out that she is pregnant with a son, but she manages to complete law school with the support of her mother-in-law, a local Mt. Washington restaurateur.
Moving forward five years, Althea has also gained the support of her two best friends from college but still mourns the death of her husband. Finally, her friends encourage her to let loose on a night out.
At the Fairmont Hotel, Althea meets Griffen, a visiting novelist subbing short-term for a professor at Pitt. Of course, they fall in lust at the bar — one night, no strings — until Saturday, when Griffen arrives at the fifth birthday party celebration for her son. Griffen, it turns out, was her husband’s most trusted friend in high school, a teammate on the football team and the who knew all his secrets.
Unfortunately, Griffen regrets not returning to Pittsburgh for Jack’s funeral and has no idea that the sexy Althea is his best friend’s widow. Griffen and Althea decide to move their relationship beyond the one night if for no other reason than to help Althea move her life forward, but the complications of Althea and her overbearing and grief- stricken mother-in-law and the attentions of her husband’s work mentor, David, encourage empathy and concern for Althea. When will her mother-in-law back off? And what exactly is David really interested in?
Ms. Barlow’s story is not lightweight. Griffen’s past, Althea’s grief (and her mother-in-law’s interference), the mystery that surrounds the trustworthy and supportive David, all develop into a satisfying novel.
Tempered by Althea’s best friends and the wonder of a 5-year-old boy who adores the punk rock style of his mother’s friend, Aubrey, and the football past of both his dad and Griffen, the book maintains a humor that balances the dark subject matter of an unanticipated death or a difficult adolescence.
Ms. Barlow was influenced by a difficult health scare in her own life and the love and concern of her own husband. Fortunately for us, she is living an active life and loving Pittsburgh at the same time. For local readers, it can’t get much better than that. For national readers, the story is well worth the time, as her national fans attest.
“Three Rivers” is the winner of a Smut Book Club (over 16,000 Facebook followers and featured in September’s Elle magazine) award for Best Debut Novel for January-June 2014.
Chloe T. Barlow, a practicing full-time attorney, wrote a contemporary novel that is insightful and sexy, and one that pushes the emotional buttons that romance readers expect.
The story is not just about the new love of a grieving young widow, but it’s also a mystery that draws readers in for an exciting conclusion. Chloe’s fans, both local and nationally, are anticipating “City of Champions,” the second in this delightful Gateway to Love series. Pittsburgh, huh, who knew?
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