Tessa and Valerie seemingly have nothing in common. Tessa is a stay-at-home mother of two children and the wife of Nick Russo, a renowned pediatric surgeon. Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father.

The paths of these characters cross unexpectedly when a tragic accident brings Charlie to Dr. Russo’s care. And in the process of caring for the severely burned child, Nick finds himself drawn to the needs of this little boy and his mother.

Told in alternate chapters, the stories of Valerie and Tessa and the untenable triangle in which they become engaged, with Nick, brings up issues of love, loyalty, and betrayal and ultimately changes all their lives.

These characters could have been presented in the clichéd “other woman” scenario, but as we come to know each of the players, we soon learn that nobody is evil here and there is something each of them must learn in order to ultimately discover what is truly at the “heart of the matter.”

In many ways, the characters of Valerie and Tessa could almost be interchangeable, despite their surface differences. They each are seeking love and family, and hoping against hope for the happiness we all long for.

Nick could have been portrayed as a cad, but instead, we find him appealing as he struggles to do right by his family as well as Charlie and Valerie’s family.

In the end, choices and decisions have to be made and a learning process must happen. Learning to forgive, to trust, and to move forward will determine the outcome of each of their lives.

I must award Heart of the Matter five stars.


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