In the most recent book by Cara McKenna I read, Ready and Willing, I gave it 2-stars because I felt it was too short and the sex seemed to overshadow what could have been a promising developing relationship.
This book is also short, the same length as R&W and there is lots of sex. But the relationships in this book are developed great. For some reason, what didn't work in that book worked excellently in this one. Not only that, I think this book was the exactly right length for the story being told. It really shouldn't have been longer than it was.
I think one reason for that is the structure of the book played a large part in the character and plot development. We are dropped in media res
, as it were. It reads like we are reading the last act of a story but the reader is never disoriented because the author pulls this very deft sleight of hand that makes you feel like you already know what has come before. Through some well done exposition and well placed dialogue we quickly get the lay of the land and feel invested in the story right away.
It is told in first person by Robin. She and her boyfriend Jay live together, are happy and have a great sex life. I loved Robin's voice. She was self deprecating, funny and a little neurotic. it was a very natural narration that didn't feel as self aware as some first POVs often do. One night Jay proposes but Robin hesitates. 'Is it because of that asshole Patrick?' Jay wonders. Patrick is a guy who, five years earlier, saved Robin's life. He rescued her from a knife wielding guy and went on to kick the guy senseless. He served several months in prison for aggravated assault. Robin has unresolved issues with Patrick because she has been wildly attracted to him since then.
Jay knows this because Robin has been very honest with him. Jay believes it is just some PTSD thing and they need to confront it so he gives Robin permission to get Patrick out of her system so they can go on with their lives.
I must say this first part of the story was quite delightful. It is written with a light, almost comedic touch with the three of them coming to terms with what Jay is proposing. Robin is tempted and thrilled. Jay has ground rules for how the whole thing is to proceed (he is very logical). And Patrick just doesn't want to be a homewrecker (although he is also very attracted to Robin). There are some great scenes that had me chuckling, believe it or not as the three of them negotiate how this is all going to go down.
At this point, I figured the author had several ways she could end this story: 1) Robin exorcises Patrick out of her system through sex and can go away and live happily ever after with Jay or 2) Robin realizes that her feeling for Patrick are much deeper than just wanting to get him out her system and she ends up falling for Patrick or 3) They are all so turned on by the situation they settle down into a happy threesome. What eventually happens is what I realized I really wanted to happen as I continued to read the book. I had a marked preference for one of the guys over the other.
The tone shifts a bit. The lightness dims as the three protagonists realize that logical plans can get turned upside down by feelings.
I must say I started out liking all three and didn't feel judgy by anyone for what was happening. I actually thought Jay was a little too pragmatic about it. As it turns out he wasn't being just pragmatic, logical Jay. And this is where I think the story gets a bit depth that I had not expected. I won't say more, but I must say the author packed a lot of story, character and sexual psychology into a small package.
I will also say that I really, really enjoy this author's voice. I would love to see her do a longer, romance (well maybe romantica because she can do some awesome sex scenes).