In this touching debut novel, artist Kate Abernethy is trying to put her life back together after the death of her boyfriend. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life—instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination.
Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.
out of 5
I had mixed feelings about this novel. It stared off great. I really enjoyed the main character Kate. The challenges she faced were interesting, and I liked her outlook on things. As the novel begins, Kate is accepting a job to fill in for her mother as the art teacher of a Catholic school. Flanigan does a great job filling out the backstory slowly, adding more depth as the novel progresses.
But at about the halfway point, the novel takes a very strange turn and it feels like it simply ran out of steam. While Kate had been a sympathetic character up to this point, she does some things that are uncommonly childish and cruel, with no build up for understanding why. For example, the reader is supposed to believe that Kate is convinced her mother hates her and blamed her for her father leaving, to justify Kate's utterly abysmal treatment of her mother. But I just didn't feel that. The mother's reactions felt a lot more understandable than Kate's a lot of the time, and Kate just struck me as a melodramatic teenager rather than an adult with genuine past traumas.
The turn the novel takes apparently leads Kate to what she's always wanted to do with her life, but there wasn't enough build up that this was what she wanted to do. I would have also liked to see the opportunity she gets come more from having taken the job at the school, rather than it simply falling into her lap shortly after she leaves the school. By the end of the novel, it feels like the entire school plot existed only so Kate could meet the love interest Aiden, and stir up a bit of gossip that upsets her mother.
The romance was sweet and believable, and the sex scenes have a great mix of sensuality, and awkwardness that feels very realistic. But it felt like the romance was given a backseat to everything else going on. So when it was suddenly pushed to the forefront two thirds into the novel, it just didn't feel strong enough to hold it all up, and it seemed like every other subplots was forgotten or wrapped up a little too neatly.
The novel is well written, and I liked Kate and Aiden enough to follow them to the end. If you enjoy contemporary romance with complex characters I would recommend this.