This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Montlake Romance
Released on July 23,2013
This was a book I chose strictly on a whim- no prior research into author, reviews or friends opinions (blurb is vague so good luck with that). It sat on my shelf for some time before I was in the proper frame of mind to be adventuresome. I wasn’t sure if it was Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance or Women’s Fiction. Based on what I’ve seen since, I don’t think others know either. I would put it as a cross between Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance with WF taking the lead on this one. I tend to shy away from WF as a genre not because I can’t handle the issues or the plots or even the focus. For me, it’s the emotions these dredge up. I find them depressing and at times hopeless. This one was no exception although added to that I had a true abhorrence for the heroine most of the time.
This story grabbed my emotions. Early on, I wanted to toss it down and never return to it when I learned what was causing her issues. I was just done- so done- with Sam (Samantha). There is a part of me that wonders if she’s more real than I think, but that doesn’t make me want to like her either. What do I mean by this? Let me give a summary and then I’ll get to that. Oh and I didn’t realize this was a second book in a series until later, but it wasn’t a big deal.
The story opens with Sam wandering around outside in the middle of the night while her husband and kids are inside sleeping. She’s trying to bolster herself up for her ‘big’ day. For the first time in years, she is going to attempt putting herself out amongst a crowd of people because she doesn’t want her oldest son, Cade, to have passed through grade school with his mom having never once volunteered in his school. It is obvious that she has some sort of mental health issues that keep her hidden away in her own home and leave her freaking out and running up to curl up into a ball on her bed if someone says, moves or touches her wrong. Her family for the last 12 years has been moving around her on tenderhooks and her issues are their issues. Her husband is exhausted trying to carry the family load, working long hours and being there for her too, her kids watch her like she is a ticking time bomb and she moves about lost in her own head and a shadow of her former self. She can’t help, in light of the fact that she’s entering an elementary school for a bake sale, but remember her traumatic memories of 9/11 when the school she worked at was right near the Towers and she have to get her students out of that part of Manhattan and help them deal with the fact that many of them had lost their parents that day. The world is a scary place to her now which is why she doesn’t engage, but this one day she will with tragic déjà vu consequences that ripple through their whole suburban small town.
Okay…so the big action takes place near the front of the book and the rest of the story is about how they go from there. The story focuses on Sam and her family, but it extends to their neighbors on Mimosa Lane and the rest of their small community. Exploring how a community tragedy affected lives, how child bullying and child abuse can lead to tragedy and even exploring PTSD from close-hand contact with this was good stuff. I loved it and thought the author was so strong with all that.
Remember when I said the heroine was a problem for me? This book is her story and I got to the point where there was just not even an ounce of pity left for what she put so many people through. I’m not cold-hearted. I get that she had unresolved issues coming off of 9/11. I get that and I definitely wouldn’t have come through unscathed on my own part, but what I don’t get is how she made it all about her to the detriment of her loving family and her supportive friends. There is a limit to ‘do what you gotta do’ and ‘take care of self first’. You see, this woman made a meal ticket out of those comfort words which caused her to stagnate instead of grow. I was so angry with her when it became her husbands fault. She walked out on her home and her family because her husband told her that things would be ‘okay’. It’s obvious to most of the planet that he’s struggling and he wants things to be okay- he needs things to be okay. He needs her badly because he’s falling apart too (she’s always been the stronger of the two and Madam Obtuseness doesn’t get this at all because she’s so buried in her own crap). She is the center of her family’s world. They love her and they want her back (which is something else she gets hung up on- ‘I’ll never be the same’. They’re not asking for the same per se, Sweety. They’d be happy just for mom to be present at this point). Brian and her kids can’t move forward without her- okay obvious to everyone, but her. Not only does she drag it out for 12 years, she drags out a separation for months after her husband turns himself inside out for her and her kids are imploding trying to deal with the recent tragedy alone. Selfish? Um no, it’s so much worse and I can’t think of a word strong enough. I kept reading hoping that she would snap out of it as she saw what was going on around her and that she would grow, but no, she just kept circling around the mental toilet drain there. She helps another little boy, she helps her friends, she helps herself, but her family…nah, they need to ‘get her’ first. She tries to justify her biz and she puts it all on her husband for enabling her. I get that her husband was in denial, but she’s not treating him like a man of human limitations, but some superhero/saint or something and she’s the only one with needs. She might have been right about his need to recover too, but dang she sure left him out to dry to find his own way.
Deep cleansing breaths…
So in a nutshell, I loved everything about the story except Sam and oh by the way she occupies the majority of it. Would I read this writer again? Sure. Not all her heroines can be Sam, right? And I did like her Mimosa Lane world, her writing style and the other characters.
Those who enjoy their Contemporary Romances more along the lines of Women’s Fiction filled with angst and drama might want to give this series a try.
This was a GoodReads Giveaway and my thanks to those who put it up for giveaway/review.
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