What if the guy in the airplane seat next to you turned out to be the love of your life?
Juliana, happy in her career as a hair stylist, is on her way to visit her boyfriend of ten years who's working out of state. She's wondering why they're not engaged yet. Michael is going to his fiance's parents' home for an engagement party he doesn't want. A states' prosecutor, he's about to try the biggest case of his career, he hates the distraction, and he's having doubts about the relationship.
They sit together on the plane, and discover they're on the same flight coming back. When the weekend is a disaster for each of them, they bond on the plane ride home. But life is full of complications, including their exes, who don't want to let go, and when Michael's trial turns dangerous, the two must confront what they value most in life...
I must confess up front that I had serious issues with this book. It hit a personal hot button with me - completely unexpectedly. And as I write this review, I have no idea if it will turn out to be favorable or not. I can say that I picked up this book because I loved Force's first book, Line of Scrimmage. I read Barbara's wonderful review of this book, and having just finished a love triangle book (A Hint of Wicked), wasn't sure I wanted to read another. The love triangle isn't what tripped my switch, though. Completely personal issue - I'm sure it won't have this effect on anyone else. And a warning that this review may border on TMI.
Turns out that Juliana's live-in boyfriend of 10 years is wondering what it would be like to have sex with another woman. They've been together since they were 17, and have never been with anyone else. She, on the other hand, has never had thoughts like this (until she sees Michael on the plane, but she isn't really ready to admit this to herself yet). There in a nutshell was my problem with the book. As soon as I read that scene, I wondered all the way through the rest of the book... is my own husband having those kind of thoughts? Our situation is very similar. Together since 18, now in our 40s. Never with anyone else. And although we have a very happy, healthy sex life, what if he is wondering? So I read the entire book with this feeling of dread and trepidation. And 2 days later, still find myself looking at him with a speculative gleam in my eye. Crazy.
Having said that, Force handles a delicate, sad, and no-win situation with grace and style. Neither one of these men is a villain - they both serve a very important purpose to Juliana. All four characters are flawed. None of them is perfect, although Michael sure seems to come pretty close. And that in itself is a red flag, isn't it? Still, he shows his impatience with his fiancee and then relief when the relationship of four years simply ends. So maybe not perfect. Juliana is a bit wishy-washy. She "takes a break" from Jeremy, then pretty much hops into bed with Michael, and then is unwilling to fully commit to him - still keeping the possibility of Jeremy dangling in front of him.
Jeremy, aside from the cardinal sin of admitting he thought about what it might be like with another woman, is the perfect guy, and goes completely out of his way to show Juliana how much she means to him. The only one who appears to be completely able to be written off is Michael's fiancee Paige, and even she is saved from true villain status through Michael's flashbacks of their courtship and his memories of how much he loved her.
I thought that through the entire book, Michael was far too understanding of Juliana's need to keep Jeremy hanging on a string. SPOILER*** Even after she and Jeremy broke up, all he said was I'll wait for you forever. Then he waited an entire year for her without complaint. Srsly - too good to be true. But in its own way, sighworthy. ***/SPOILER I would have liked to have seen him at least once attempt to force her to make a decision.
So, I guess that even with my personal issues aside, there were still things with this book that gave me pause. However, what a tough topic to tackle without making Juliana seem like a ho, Jeremy seem like a jerk, or Michael seem like a pushover. Even Paige didn't seem like such a bitch at the end. Well done. So next time, Ms Force, can you do it without pushing my own personal buttons? Hmmm?