Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: The Idea of Love

The Idea of Love
By Patti Callahan Henry
Published: June 23, 2015

As we like to say in the south,
"Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."
Ella's life has been completely upended. She's young, beautiful, and deeply in love--until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she'll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers' block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He's on the look-out for a love story. It doesn't matter who it belongs to.
When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It's the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It's an opportunity to live out a fantasy - the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what's a little white lie between strangers? 

But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right?

My review:

A number of years ago I read and loved Driftwood Summer (also by Patti Callahan Henry), a book about three estranged sisters trying to save a bookstore. Since then I've been meaning to read more of the author's work. When I saw this title, my interest was piqued by the premise. Unfortunately it did not quite live up to my high expectations.

I was under the impression that Ella's husband was dead but under different circumstances from her tragically romantic story she spins for Hunter. We learn at the beginning of the novel that he is actually alive, having dumped her for her best friend's sister. They also happens to live in the same town. I am mentioning these minor spoilers (really this is all revealed at the beginning) because I found it hard to believe that Ella thought she'd be able to get away with lying to Hunter about her husband's story. Still I felt really sorry for Ella. She loses everything and has to live in the same town with her cheating spouse and his new girlfriend and painful memories. She also hopes that somehow he will come to his senses and return to her. I can understand what led her to lie to Hunter and why she is drawn to him as someone who doesn't know the whole pathetic story of her life.

Hunter's real name is Blake (his last name is Hunter). He is struggling to come up with a good story and while he hunts for one, he lies and tells the people he meets that he is working on a book about coastal towns. This gives him a way to connect with Ella under the guise of her acting as his tour guide in the town. He is also hiding from his own personal issues-a messy divorce (he cheated) and a difficult relationship with his teenage daughter who is understandably angry with him. 

I found Hunter/Blake to be hard to like as a hero. I thought he wasn't good enough for Ella which kind of soured me on the romance aspect of the novel. While I felt sympathetic towards Ella and wanted her to find happiness and some peace (and let go of her delusions about her husband) I didn't want her to end up with Blake. I did like how Ella grew as a person through her friendship with her feisty elderly neighbor, Mimi and the way she learned to stand her ground. She even found a way to mend fences with her best friend who truly was sorry about the mess with her sister and Emma's husband. 

If the novel had given us a hero that was truly worthy of the heroine, I would have enjoyed it so much more. Instead I felt a little disappointed in the end. While this book didn't quite work for me, I wouldn't say it was bad. I may not have cared much for the hero but that doesn't mean that other readers would feel the same way. I did enjoy the setting and the characters of Ella and Mimi in particular. I think readers who like Nancy Thayer's novels might appreciate this one too. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

1 comment:

  1. Oy, I really don't like the sound of Blake! It's frustrating when the hero doesn't really have any redeeming qualities, and you don't have a reason to root for the romance.


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