Monday, May 30, 2011


I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.

Tess Dyer impulsively moves to a small Maine town after her difficult divorce in order to attempt to escape the fallout from her marriage, her troubled past and her damaged and difficult relationship with her mother. The day Tess moves into her apartment, she feels a connection with her younger hunky neighbor named Brian. Tess immediately falls into a passionate affair with Brian and despite her best efforts to keep their relationship on a sexual level only, she falls in love with him. Although she is happy in her new life, Tess constantly battles the demons from her past that involve her own feelings (or lack thereof) of self-worth. She must come to terms with her past in order to have any kind of a future.

There is much to like in this book. Tess is a truly conflicted person with a painful and tortured past. The effects of that past have far-reaching consequences.  She values herself very little and the way she approaches relationships and other people make it difficult to like her at first.  Her problems are real, however, and I appreciate how Keller brings such a complex person into the novel.  No one in this book has it easy. Everyone is dealing with their own demons and everyone has a story to tell.  Keller is at her best and most poignant when she is presents the consuming drug problem of one of the characters. It is one of the most tragic cautionary tales about drug addiction that I can remember in recent years.  However...

While there are nuggets of really great stuff in this book, it fails as a novel. Most of the characters aren't likeable or relatable. Tess' relationships with Brian seems a bit far-fetched and over the top. The sex scenes were written in a way that made them feel completely embarrassing.  Keller could have edited those scenes out completely and the book would have been much more effective.  The story takes way too long to develop and I often found the narrative extremely tedious. I had to push my way through to finish.  I appreciate what Keller was trying to do but it just didn't work.

BOTTOM LINE: NOT recommended.  While there are some great ideas here, the story and pacing are a bit of a mess.  With some better editing, it is possible this book could be saved but with so many of the plot points ranging from far-fetched to downright unbelievable, I'm not sure it is salvageable.

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