Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
I had this book for a couple of months and really held off on reading it. Every time I read the blurb something about it somewhat repelled me. I wondered if the author, whose works has demonstrated a willingness to color outside the lines when it comes to writing romance, had tried something a little too outre? Did I really want to read this romance/self-help hybrid?
I should have known better. Pepper Pace so far has not let me down. And this book was no exception.
Hayden's boyfriend of six years baldly announces he has met someone else. Having been left with her life and self-esteem in tatters, Hayden takes a little psychological and physiological survey of herself. While she is really astute as she critically analyzes how she's let life careen out of control while she was with Mykell, she also labors under a mountain of self loathing that blinds her to some of her better qualities.
While she is in this wallow, she decides to do a radical make over of her life. She gives herself a year. A year to throw away on just concentrating on making herself right. She joins a gym and gets a personal trainer. In one of the more disturbing aspects of Hayden's askew psyche, much of her self-loathing manifests itself in a bit of body dysmorphism. She simply can't see herself as she really is. She believes everything about her physically is simply repulsive. Along with the gym membership she decides to give herself daily positive affirmations and keep her home and personal space clean and well ordered. All of this, she believes -- done over her throwaway year -- will get her right with herself.
In addition to this, she takes on a second job. Another aspect of her life with Mykell was her allowing herself to rack up huge credit card debt and teeter in the edge of insolvency. She has no savings despite the fact that she makes pretty good money in her regular job. So she takes an evening job at a telemarketing firm.
Here she meets a cast of characters who all have their own issues. The one who stands out the most is Brian, a man who himself is battling some pretty serious demons and working his way back to himself.
In some ways this book stands on the blurry line between a romance and women's fiction. The first part really is about Hayden and her journey. Despite my initial reservations I found myself immediately enmeshed in Hayden's life. Just totally sucked in. I was rooting for her even as I was a little disturbed by her inability to recognize her own strengths. And yet, I nodded approvingly each step she took up her personal improvement ladder.
By the time Hayden and Brian meet, the book seamlessly moves from quasi women's fiction to a good satisfying romance.
With Brian, Pace does something she does a lot. She gives us a non-traditional hero. Yes he is handsome and authoritative, yet he is troubled in a way you won't find in typical romance novels. I like how he and Hayden sense in each other a kindred spirit and even as they work together to support each other, they fall in love.
There are few bumps along the way of course but the romance is very satisfying.
My biggest criticism is that while the romance between them hits a very authentic note of emotion and growth, the sex scenes are curiously remote and written rather abruptly or clinically. I didn't feel any of the connection I think I should have.
And she falls into the lathe vs. lave trap!
But this was a really good read and I closed the book very pleased at Hayden's journey and the romance between her and Brian.