In the latest from de los Santos (Belong to Me, 2008, etc.), a single mother’s effort to reunite with her two best friends from college after a six-year silence doesn’t pan out exactly as she expected.
After Pen met Cat (their cute, sexually ambiguous names a telling coincidence) and Will at the start of their freshman year at an unnamed Southern college, the three quickly recognized they were soul mates and became inseparable. Other friends and even lovers had to play second fiddle to their platonic threesome. After college, the three lived together until petite, half-Filipino Cat, who suffered from occasional epileptic seizures and was the most vivacious and quirky member of the group, decided she wanted to get married and moved out. The friendship was so intense that it could not survive alteration, and soon Will moved out too. In the ensuing six years, Pen has heard nothing from her friends. She is living with her brother while raising her 5-year-old daughter Augusta, the result of an affair with a likable jerk who has returned to his former wife, when she receives an e-mail from Cat begging her to meet at their college reunion. Will, now an author of children’s books, receives the same e-mail and shows up too. But instead of Cat, Cat’s husband Jason appears. He sent the e-mails and now begs them to help him find Cat, who disappeared shortly after her father’s death (Pen is still mourning the death of her own father two years earlier while Will’s father is alive but out of his life). Soon the three, plus Augusta, head to the Philippines. Pen and Will grapple with their confused, perhaps not so platonic feelings for each other as well as their ambivalence toward crude but oddly sympathetic Jason, a dead ringer for the actor Jason Segel.
Adept at creating romantic fiction for women who want to think they are above romantic fiction, de los Santos offers ever-so-sensitive protagonists who are surprisingly dense about their actual feelings.