It begins with a television show in 1996…
Lance Denton knows what he wants, and it isn’t his co-star Maggie Smiley. She’s too timid, too nice, too innocent—too everything. She sees past his exterior and into his heart. Maggie expects him to be good, and he only knows bad. He tells himself this, and yet he can’t stay away from her. Her eyes, her heart, her spirit. He falls for her, and then he keeps falling.
It ends with a knock on the door in 2010…
Maggie Smiley has spent the last decade pretending a piece of her childhood never happened, namely the part that involved Lance Denton. When she receives an invitation in the mail to a fundraiser, she decides to stop hiding—from her past, from herself, and ultimately, from Lance. He makes this easy when he shows up on her doorstep, his blue, blue eyes promising more than she wants to see.
3.5 stars — It’s official folks, I’m in a slump. The synopsis above is actually not the one I read (I read the one you’ll see on Goodreads), but I feel like this one (from Amazon) better represents the story. I had a completely different story in my head when I started this, and it totally affected my initial enjoyment of the story. I was expecting Lance to have been some bully from her past who’s back to make amends. And I guess in a way that is still true, but they had a romantic relationship in the past too (which you do get from this updated synopsis), and so it just threw me off. I mean, it’s like my favourite analogy — thinking you’re going to drink Coke, but you’re actually drinking root beer, and so it tastes bad, even though you like root beer. Expectations suck.
Getting the meh parts out of the way, sometimes I just felt a little lost in the prose. There were so many emotional things going on, and sometimes I had moments where I just honestly lost what the story was trying to tell me. It’s hard to explain. I think I’m just having massive brain farts and they’re destroying my reading experience. It takes away from the effectiveness of some scenes when you don’t know what they’re talking about.
OK, onto the good stuff! Even though both characters were royally screwed up to the yin yang, I still enjoyed both characters. I loved the depth that they showed, and Ms. Zart really gets you to feel the angst that they’re both experiencing, especially in the past parts from Lance’s POV. I also really felt their attraction in the past, and the love that developed there (along with a lot of unhealthy bits). I think in the end I was more affected by Lance’s story to be honest. I felt like we got to see what he was going through and what made him who he was. I felt all the depths of his emotions. Maybe b/c we were in Lance’s head for all the past segments. In the end only seeing in Maggie’s head in the present, I didn’t really get to connect with her and all the things she was struggling with. I know she was supposed to be reclusive and bad body image issues, but I just felt like it wasn’t really there (maybe it was more prominent in her past), and so it just kind of solved itself rather quickly. I didn’t get to see the growth and transition, and I missed that. So for me, Lance was the shining star of this story — which is funny, b/c he was a mega jerk for quite a bit of it. So I don’t usually find myself gravitating towards those characters, but I really believed in his growth and changes.
All in all it was a solid read, but as I seem to be lately, I was left wanting more. I guess I’ve just turned into a demanding reader or something.