I have no idea how this book came into my orbit, but I was not clicking with a couple of other books I started and picked this one up. I clicked to it right away.
The basic story is very interesting. Juliana Gregorio has been in a relationship with her high school boyfriend for more than 10 years. But he has never made the move to ask her to marry him, much to the scorn of her friends and family. Making matters worse, he has taken a job in Florida (they live in Baltimor), the long distance adding more strain to their relationship.
On a flight to visit him, Juliana strikes up a conversation with her seat mate. Michael Maguire is a prosecutor in Baltimore who himself is in a long distance relationship. He is on his way to visit his fiancee and her family in Florida and to be the guest of honor in an over-the-top engagement party. During the flight, the two are so comfortable with each other (and a little attracted) that they find themselves easily discussing their significant others with a frankness that is rare in strangers.
On the flight back, the two are in a very different state of mind. The weekend has seen Michael break off his engagement in disgust with the manipulative nature of his fiancee and her family. And Juliana has just has her heart broken by her boyfriend and has issued a 3 month time out in their relationship. Miserably the two unlucky in love travelers commiserate.
Once back in Baltimore (through a series of somewhat contrived circumstances) Juliana becomes Michael's roommate. Amidst a high profile criminal case and two ex-es who aren't quite done with them yet, the two fall in love.
As I was reading this book, I was totally digging it. The writing is really quite good and the characters are also excellently drawn. The author did a great job of drawing a complete picture, not just of the current relationship with Juliana and Michael but of their relationships with their exes. She makes the exes unsympathetic up to a point but doesn't go overboard completely vilifying them. She makes them surprisingly human.
And if anything thing stands out in this book is how not text-book romancey it is. The author makes a few narrative decisions that struck me as unconventional for a romance novel. At the end of the book Juliana does something that made me completely scratch my head and go WTF?. But then I thought about it for a minute and realize I had been taken off my stride because it wasn't a 'romance novel' thing to do. Instead it was, strangely, something I could see someone doing in a very un-tidy, not everything is wrapped in a bow, real-life kind of way. It aggravated the heck out of me at the time and made me at first want to give this a 3-star rating, but after some thought I actually liked the decision. It made the character grow, in a much needed way. imo.
The other thing that almost made me give this a 3-star was the suspense sub-plot. I detest it when a perfectly good contemporary romance get a suspense subplot shoehorned in. You could have easily removed the high-profile case with the witness protection, murderers and police details and the story would not have suffered a bit.
Good writing and good characters prevailed though and I do recommend.