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I have to admit, I'm baffled by all the 4- and 5-star reviews on this little novella. I was torn between 2- and 3-stars, but Amazon's definition for a 3-star rating is "It's OK". Rachel is, quite frankly, loud and obnoxious. She knows little about soccer and yet she gets in the coach's face when he pulls her son out of a game; when Jim, who's at the game with them, points out that the coach was right to pull the boy out, Rachel goes and sits by herself, lying on her stomach at times, like some pouting little kid. I'm a pretty free spirit, but I can honestly say I never stretched out on the bleachers at one of my children's athletic events.
Then we have Jim, who's just a snooty Mama's boy. He thinks Rachel is obsessed with money (she's not, she's just a single mother on a budget); in truth, Jim is the one who's an elitist with his own idea of the "perfect" woman, and the more he gets to know Rachel, the more he thinks she's not it.
Enter Donna, a model-gorgeous, professional divorcee, mother to one of the other players on the soccer team with Rachel's son. Jim, during the game in which Rachel is pouting, moves closer to lovely blonde Donna and the next thing you know, they're off on a little weekend jaunt to Vail, where -- naturally -- Donna is an amazing skier and can light the fire in seconds, blah, blah, blah.
More confusion, in the form of Ryan, the coach of the soccer team, ensues. Ryan and Rachel begin seeing each other. So now we have Rachel and Jim, Jim and Donna and Rachel and Ryan. I know, try to keep up. SPOILER ALERT: At Christmas, Rachel invites BOTH men to a little gathering at her apartment. She decides THAT's the time and place to talk to both men; she plans to tell Ryan she only sees him as a friend, and tell Jim she wants to see more of him. Ryan is okay with her announcement and tells her he feels the same way. Rachel later finds her sister and Ryan wrapped around each other; I saw this coming, but still found it seriously oogy.
If you're still interested in reading this book, I won't ruin the end for you. Suffice it to say, after finding nothing likable about any character in the story, I didn't really care about who ended up with whom. Another reviewer gushed about how wonderful and refreshing it was to read a romance in which the H/h were less than perfect, physically. While I agree with that, unfortunately, they had personalities to go with their imperfect appearances. Rachel, the immature, loud, obnoxious mess and Jim, the snobby, self-important, elitist attorney. Blah.
Jim has also felt an attraction for the strange woman he met at the grocery, although he can’t figure out why. She isn’t anything like the ideal woman he has logically selected in an itemized list of attributes. When they recognize each other, they begin to date.
But this isn’t a typical romance. Jim isn’t ready to commit, and starts dating another woman, Donna, on the side. Donna fits his list of attributes more than Rachel does, and he goes back and forth between the two. It isn’t a love triangle so much as a case of indecision, being torn between logic and emotion, and not knowing what it is that he really wants.
The book is only six chapters long, making it a pleasant four-hour read. The love scenes are limited to kisses, and the attraction is based more on friendship than physique. It doesn’t follow the usual plot development for a romance novel. Actually, it’s more in keeping with “Bridges Over Madison County”. It’s about making up your mind, exploring what is in your heart, and learning to accept people just the way they are, faults and all.
It may not be a long read, but it is a delightful one, penned in McCune's highly polished but gentle hand. The story concerns Rachel, not your average petite and pretty romantic heroine, but something of a klutz. An outspoken single mother, slightly plump and with mousey hair that has a mind of its own, Rachel meets struggling lawyer Jim considering the scandalous price of apples outside the local supermarket and cupid strikes at once.
But, of course, love at first sight only happens in fairy stories and when these two finally overcome the everyday obstacles fate puts in their way, it seems they have to fall out of love before they can fall in love and see each other - and their own hearts - with any clarity. And this makes it rather different to the traditional and predictable romances.
McCune's composed but witty style shines through as the protagonists move precariously through their journey of discovery. The misunderstandings arising from their communication by text had me LOL-ing in my chair while Jim's prevarications and misjudgements made me want to shout out and shake him at times. Rachel is delightfully drawn and her journey quite poignant; Jim less so in my eyes as he struggles between what his head thinks he needs and what his heart knows he wants. But then I suppose most men are dazzled by Barbie-doll-types at some point in their lives, so maybe I'm being harsh on Jim.
All in all, a quick and charming read and a delightful way to while away an hour or two.