In Kennedy’s (Surf Shop Sisters, 2016, etc.) romance, an unhappy housewife embarks on a charged affair with a younger man, with unexpected consequences.
Barbie Bentley seemingly has a pretty nice life, with two well-adjusted kids, a successful husband, and a lovely home in an exclusive Florida community. Yet, as is often the case, outward signs of happiness mask inner discontent. Barbie’s husband, Bud, is distant and insensitive; their sex life, which was never great, is now on life support. Then Barbie meets Nick, a “young Greek god,” on the campus of the local community college, where she’s taking classes. Sparks fly and soon she and Nick are sneaking off for a clandestine rendezvous. Cheating isn’t the only way Barbie betrays Bud. When her friend Frances gets an eviction notice, Barbie agrees to help fight developers intent on turning a trailer park into pricey condos. The only problem? Bud is the contractor for the redevelopment project. As her romance with Nick gets more complicated and the trailer park fight turns ugly, Barbie must make tough decisions about what she values most. Kennedy’s latest outing is a fun romance with a serious core, as she explores what makes a relationship work (or not) and why people choose to stay together. The put-upon Barbie will be a relatable heroine to anyone whose feelings are overlooked or ignored, and readers will enjoy watching her take charge of her own life, even if she makes some mistakes along the way. Meanwhile, breezy dialogue and dramatic twists keep the story humming along. Unfortunately, its handling of issues of race and sexual orientation is clumsy at best; a lesbian character and a Hispanic gardener, for example, are jumbles of stereotypes. In one particularly tone-deaf scene, a character declares of a biracial man, “I think it’s really fly Noah is an Oreo….that means our children will be light enough to pass if they want to.” Minor but easily avoidable errors, such as the repeated misspelling of poet T.S. Eliot’s name, also distract.
A pleasant enough tale of a middle-aged woman discovering herself, though some moments leave a sour taste.