History professor Anna Alessi is shocked when she has to work with James Fraser, her high school tormentor; stymied when he doesn’t recognize her; and stunned when she finds herself falling for him.
Formerly fat and friendless, Anna is meeting her 30s with the same planning and determination that helped her earn her advanced degree, land her dream teaching position and slim down, though she has never quite come to think of herself as any kind of beauty or social contender. Still, it's time to meet a man, and as she signs up for a variety of online dating sites, she has the opportunity to work on a fabulous history exhibit at a local museum, where she meets James, the tech expert who will be creating computer-interactive features for the project and who was also the merciless instigator of the cruelest prank of her school days. Anna trusts him about as far as she could throw her high school self, but as they work together and get to know each other, she begins to lower her defenses. As their friendship grows against the backdrop of Anna’s disastrous dates, her sister’s problematic upcoming wedding, James’ disintegrating marriage and his womanizing friend Laurence, Anna finds herself considering something more, until the disturbing moment James discovers who Anna used to be, forcing him to face who he was—and is. From the beginning, we are drawn to Anna’s pain as a bullied student, and we can see James, the idol of their school and her painful crush, turning on her with the stinging malevolence of teen cruelty. Smoothly written and nicely constructed, with an interesting and powerful look at the past and the hold it can have on us, yet with a keen eye toward how empowering struggle can be.
Fun and engaging but with thought-provoking twists that deepen the emotional impact beyond light romantic comedy.