When I first began this book I kinda groaned in dismay. Between the speech patterns, the constant uses of the terms 'Babe' or 'My Woman' and loss of the letter 'g' at the end of gerunds, I was afraid it was going to be a cookie cutter of Mystery Man. Now, I ended up really enjoying that book, but I did not want to read it again.
Luckily, this book took a smart left turn away from MM and went in it's own direction. And I thought it was a much better book for it.
For one thing, the hero was excellent. I really liked Brock---wait scratch that -- I loved
Brock and Tess, the heroine together.
I have to give this author mad props. She does not let her characters bull-shit each other and I appreciate that no end. Tess and Brock have a great relationship that is full of communication and commitment almost from go. They didn't play head games, there were no misunderstandings that a simple conversation could clear up. As a matter of fact they both demanded that each other stop what they were doing and talk to each other whenever anything threatened to become stupid. The story and their characters never veered from that.
So if Brock and Tess were all about each other right from chapter two then where was the story? Well interestingly enough, KA created a completely crack-tastic story that was all about them and yet somewhat existed just around them. You know how people always said Seinfeld was a tv show about nothing and yet you watched it compulsively? Well that is kind of what this book was like.
There was no real plot really, Tess and Brock falling in love was really just it. But they do it amidst two really toxic exes and Brock's functional/dysfunctional family. Much of the drama of the book comes from them dealing with Brock's psycho ex-wife, Tess' criminal ex-husband and just the day-to-day happenings of their two lives as they begin to meld with each other. This could seem boring, But KA has a storytelling talent that manages to elevate day-to-day above the mundane.
I have to say of the two books I've read so far, I am loving how KA works with family dynamic. She creates really rich, full, nuanced families in all their sometimes broken-down glory. Since I am such a sucker for family drama this area of her writing and plotting really speaks to me and it is great that she pulls it off with such verve.
Gwen and her posse from Mystery Man (including the irrepressible Elvira) make cameo appearances. Elvira she is a hoot, but a little goes a long way. But I love how she simply inserts herself into people's lives like a long lost cousin.
Really good book, very much recommended.