walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Status Update_, Mari Carr, Second Chances, spoilers

Altho I will say, if you are reading a contemporary romance of this sort and worried about spoilers, I feel like you have comprehensively _missed the fucking point_ of a good contemporary romance. You _know the destination_ (they are going to get together); the point is the journey. A really good contemporary romance is actually better around the 7th or 8th reread.

Regardless. Spoilers.

A group of women in their late 30s/early 40s, some who have been married and/or had kids and some who have not, make New Year's Resolutions and it is one book per woman, but there are bits and pieces about the others scattered throughout thus rewarding reading the series but in no way mandating it. Good series construction. I Approve.

In this outing, Laura's twin kids are grown, graduated from college and launched on their respective careers. Speaking of which, Katie is said to be a kindergarten teacher at one point and yet begs off on seeing her mum on account of having papers to grade. Her mum thinks Katie is just being mean to her and that the excuse is sketchy, but I think that excuse is so far past sketchy that I suspect an editing lapse. Whatevs. She is a year or few out from being divorced from their dad, who was mean and unpleasant and depressed, altho he doesn't sound like he was outright abusive. Laura got pregnant with the twins at 19, so she didn't have the college experience and went straight from parents' house to living with the father and thus no solid grounding in her own developed adult self to return to when she is living on her own. Her resolution is to re-connect with her own self. Georgie (one of the other women) has a plan: makeover, dancing, go to a concert, maybe some weed. Laura is happy to play along, and runs across a junior high school/early high school friend, Bryan. Bryan married a little older and has a slightly younger daughter (still in college), Trina. His wife died a few years ago as a result of complications of poorly managed type 1 diabetes.

The main spanner in the works is Katie. Kevin is least in sight; when he does reappear (here would be a spoiler), he is very supportive of Laura's new life and wants her to be happy. Katie, however, is busy blaming Laura for how awful and miserable her father is, having apparently really never noticed that he was pretty awful and miserable and absent all along. Laura _had_ buffered that painful truth and with the buffer gone, denial springs in its place. Katie is kind of awful, but Laura goes way past Don't Diss the Ex to the Kids and is a complete doormat, allowing Katie's hurt and fears to almost derail her Laura's new life.

Obvs, Laura needs to tell Katie to either get over herself or go spend more time with Dear Old Dad until she grasps reality. In practice, by the time she is ready to do that, Katie (with some kicking from Kevin) has figured it out on her own. So that's all nicely wrapped up in a bow.

There are some really nice set pieces in this book. Tailgating at the Jimmy Buffet concert is probably the best, but trying to teach Laura how to dance is fairly hilarious also. The Rocky Horror Picture Show outing is so-so. I liked that they went; the details of how it worked were not that inspired, altho the missed phone calls, finding out Katie was at the ER because (hey, I did mention spoilers) dear old dad had heartburn was also kinda humorous.

In some ways, I liked Laura and Bryan a lot less than many other characters I've read in Mari Carr novels. I felt like both of them were ... pervasively unwise. They were by no means stupid, or risk taking, or mean spirited or of low morals or bad character or anything like that. I just felt like given their age, and their histories, they had had a lot of opportunity to be making better decisions than they were making and having better relationships than they had. OTOH, better late than never.

I wonder how the FB references will age? Right now, they are utterly perfect. But so many things wind up making contemporaries read like historicals, ten years later.

It is well written and enjoyable (despite that hiccup with the kindergarten teacher grading papers thing). There is explicit sex used to develop the relationship. Bryan's perspective on bondage is unique in my experience -- a little heavy handed (NOT literally, okay, maybe a little) but works well for his character and the nature of the relationship.
Tags: book review, contemporary erotica
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