College public-relations officer Grace Savage finds herself at the center of a love triangle in Martin’s (Don Juan in Hankey, PA, 2011) zany romantic comedy.
While visiting a historic Shaker community, Grace is taken aback to learn of the group’s celibate lifestyle; she doesn’t believe that women need to give up their sexuality to be taken seriously. The tour guide warns visitors not to anger any Shaker ghosts, but Grace soon finds herself in front of a creepy portrait of a Shaker woman who appears to be sneering at her. “Go ahead and rattle whatever it is you rattle, I dare you,” Grace taunts. She arrives home to celebrate her 35th birthday with her boyfriend; she expects him to propose marriage, but instead he breaks up with her. Later that night, when the toilet won’t stop running, Grace becomes convinced that she’s incurred the wrath of Shaker ghosts. As a result, she decides to embrace celibacy and focus her energy on her career. Her plan is soon tested when she attracts the attention of a young new reporter in town and an older college professor. As Grace and a colleague compete for a promotion, Grace contends with the complications of adhering to her pledge. Although the novel is rife with standard characters of the chick-lit genre (intelligent single woman, gay assistant, overbearing mother, difficult boss), Martin delivers an engaging plot, with witty banter, comedic elements that border on farce and cleverly titled chapters. Although some of the novel’s plot developments may seem unsurprising or a bit forced, its ending contains a welcome twist.
An entertaining light read.