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#BookReview--> Stars Shine After Dark by Paula Knoderer Hrbacek

A promising football player, Tim and a well known actress, Mona fall in love after Mona decides to take a break from her acting to live normally and join school. Soon they make promises of love and get married.
There future after finishing school is planned with Tim confident of signing a big sports contract and Mona taking a semi retirement to give more time to her family with Tim being the primary bread earner but all their dreams of a happy and secure future are shattered when Tim meets an accident and is rendered incapable of playing football ever again! To support her family Mona takes up acting full time again and gets busy, so busy that Tim feels left out and frustrated. All his dreams are broken and he feels drifting aimlessly in life in the shadow of his star wife. Days turn to years and the people who had vowed never ending love slowly start drifting apart with Mona busy in shooting for films and never at home while Tim seeks refuge from loneliness in a gym with a massager, Tina. Tina is his agony uncle and hears all his problems and day to day activities patiently while Tim unburdens himself. He is still caught in his past with no help from Mona who is distant and somewhat uncaring towards him. She simply has her own life where he feels he has no place.

But is this empty life all that is in store for Tim?
Can he ever let go of his past and build a new future?
Will Mona and Tim drift apart or make more effort to rekindle their love?
Who is the spy in their circle of acquaintances who is feeding every intimate detail and conflict between them to the media?

A very promising plot and a very interesting start but I feel the story just didn't get developed to its full potential in Stars Shine After Dark. I had loved the initial attraction between Mona and Tim and rejoiced in their joy of getting married but the story started lagging after Tim's accident. Firstly, there is simply no role of either Mona's or Tim's family in the story. I was astonished that they didn't have any role after Tim's devastating accident and his problems in adapting since! Mona's father is mentioned once or twice but Tim's family has just vanished !!
This was so unbelievable after all the ranting about how both their families were so close and had supported their children but what happened when they needed them the most?
For Mona's family I just got the feel that they valued money and image over their daughter's problems and happiness. Even later its just implied that they talked only business with Mona with no effort to connect with their son-in-law.

Also I had no good points for Mona. She got totally irritating about halfway through the story with her "no explanations and no caring" attitude. I just couldn't understand her sudden change in nature with her totally out-of-character choice of big bungalows and showoff while no time and care towards her once loved-above-everything husband. I felt sorry for Tim and totally understood his plight. The importance of dialogue between husband and wife is expertly emphasized by the author here.

The story just didn't get developed properly. The part with Suzy was also unsatisfactorily closed. No dialogue is their between what Tim already knew about Suzy and what Mona realized later. Suzy is just flicked aside and although Tim doesn't know that Mona has taken care of this angle he doesn't even ask or for that matter tell Mona about her at the end when they finally talk. Also the infidelity angle is left undiscussed.

The ending is somewhat abrupt with a sudden change in Mona but no realization of her wrong attitude all these past years. The book ends with Tim elaborating his plans and Mona (oh I am not certain what to make of her) just saying yes to everything (I don't know if she meant it or not). I just didn't connect with the characters in the book. Only Tim looked real and that too in some parts of the book. I think the best character in the story is Tina, who is competent, a sympathetic listener and a strong woman who is trying to make her way even after all the setbacks she has had in her life.

This could have been a great book had it been more detailed and with more depth to it. I give Stars Shine After Darka 3 out of 5 because I was somewhat left unsatisfied at the end. The writing of Paula is crisp and engaging but more time and thought was needed while preparing the plot.

I received the book from the author as a gift and I am very thankful to her. The above review is my honest and unbiased opinion and in no way influenced.

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