As I began reading this book, my first thought was 'Man, this really sucks.' Not the book but the situation.
Maggie and Ross have been married for 16 years but they've drifted apart. Ross is a workaholic whose drive and ambition to show everyone who had written him off as someone who wouldn't amount to anything resulted in a need to amass wealth, power and status. So much so that his marriage becomes collateral damage.
Maggie subsumed herself in Ross, working so hard to help him realize his dreams that she lost a lot of herself. In the process she realizes that her marriage is nothing but an empty shell.
The two were...not exactly content... but apathetic enough about the state of their marriage to let matters continue on or at least limp to a somewhat inevitable divorce. Until Maggie discovers that Ross had an affair. While she could forgive the long hours, and overlook the lack of attention and the lost companionship, she could not forgive this. So she walks out on him during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve where she gets into a car accident and almost dies.
The story moves forward a year where Maggie is just being released from a long hospital stay after having been in a coma and undergoing a long and painful rehab process. She has also lost her memory of the months preceding the accident. So while she remembers well and vividly the horrible state of her marriage she has no memory of the proverbial straw that led to her accident.
Ross is eaten alive with guilt and remorse. While he and Maggie still intend to divorce, he refuses to do so until he is satisfied that she can live and function comfortably on her own.
During the months they are together the two are forced to confront the state of their marriage. Slowly they begin to reconnect and find what made them love each other in the first place. While Maggie begins to blossom under her husbands renewed attention, Ross is waiting for her memory to return and the other shoe to drop....
As i was reading this book I vacillated wildly. First I have to say that the author really pulled all the emotional strings here. Maggie's struggle and Ross' guilt and the warmth of the town and the people just melded together to create a very affecting read.
But I did waffle. Sometimes I just wanted to give both Maggie and Ross and hug. other times I wanted to kick Ross in his ever lovin' ass. What a jerk he was at times!
The other thing I waffled about was, honestly, I didn't know if I wanted them to get back together. I know this is a romance novel but really, the pain and fissures in their marriage seemed so deep and so indelible that I didn't think they could be repaired.
And actually, at the end, I don't know if I feel confident that they were repaired --- forever and ever amen. Yes, Ross and actually did redeem himself somewhat and did finally change some of the behaviors that led to the downfall of the marriage in the first place, but they seemed to happen kind of all at once. If I have a real criticism of the book, it would be that. The change didn't seem gradual enough to me. It seemed that the bitterness continued to really affect them well into the book. Only to be replaced by forgiveness and acceptance at the end-game.
And there was a Deus Ex Machina element that I could have done without. It didn't work for me because I would have liked the two to realize on their own, without prompting, what they needed to do for each other. I also thought the timing from the point where Maggie's memory returns to the time where she forgives Ross was too abbreviated. I don't think she had enough time to process and really work through what he did. I know the whole marriage, even before his infidelity, was broken, but that one event looms very large in the book as The Event. So you can't help but place a very big emphasis on it.
At any rate, I felt this book worked very, very well as a work of women's fiction. I don't necessarily think it worked really great as a romance novel. But it was a very good story with some really great writing. So even if i didn't love it-love it a romance novel I recommend it highly.