THE SWEETHEART DEAL by Polly Dugan

THE SWEETHEART DEAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Dugan's second book (So Much a Part of You, 2014), a deal made by two drunk friends leads unexpectedly to true romance.

On New Year's Eve 1999, Portland firefighter Leo McGeary gets his best friend, Garrett Reese, to sign a scribbled agreement. The agreement states that in the event of Leo's death, Garrett will marry his widow. To Garrett, the agreement is a joke. He saves it as a keepsake, "an unlikely souvenir," and goes on with his life on the other side of the country in Boston. Garrett, who has never committed to a long-term relationship, isn't exactly husband material, but in 2012,when Leo is killed in a skiing accident, he quits his job, leaves his girlfriend, and rushes to Portland to help Audrey finish building an addition to the house that Leo started before his death. Against his own better judgment, Garrett moves into the house with Leo’s grieving wife and three sons, Brian, Christopher, and Andrew. It's almost inevitable that he and Audrey become lovers, but in their complicated situation, they both have trouble figuring out their true feelings. Audrey, who knows nothing about the deal, can’t separate her desire for Garrett from her feelings of loss and loneliness. Garrett, on the other hand, doesn’t know if he's keeping a promise he didn’t intend to make or if Audrey’s been the woman for him all along. Dugan doesn’t rush Garrett and Audrey into a relationship. Each character, including the three boys, gets to tell his or her own story of grief, loss, and hope. Although the adult voices are a little too similar, the reader gets a real sense of how awkward, tentative, and confusing these deepening relationships can be.

There is tender romance here, but it’s more richly a story of an old family falling away and a new one beginning.

Pub Date: May 19th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-316-32035-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2015




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