Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

Why I read it: I picked this one up from NetGalley.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads) 
The best thing between Oliver Barrett and Mackenzie Williams is a fence. Ever since Oliver's new-neighbor gestures were met with unfriendly responses, he's decided to keep his distance. After all, he's in this seaside town to get his life on track again. That doesn't include working hard to get on Mackenzie's good side—no matter how intriguing she may be.His intentions are put to the test, however, when his dog becomes infatuated with hers. The two crafty canines do their best to break down the barriers between the properties. And where the dogs go…well, the humans must follow! It doesn't take long for a powerful attraction to build between Oliver and Mackenzie. They soon discover that the worst of first impressions can lead to the best possible outcomes….

What worked for me (and what didn't): Oliver is a darling.  His soon-to-be ex-wife is madI mean, really.  Oliver is gorgeous, successful, kind, sexy, loving -  he can even sing and play guitar - why would any reasonable woman cheat on him with Mr. Toxic-Ex?  But that's what she does.  Lucky for Mackenzie that Oliver's on the market again.  

Mackenzie doesn't make a good first impression (or second or third for that matter), coming across as very rude and scary.  But she is actually not rude or scary and once she let's "nice Mackenzie" out, Oliver soon finds himself deeply in like and mentally lusting over his new friend.  I liked how it became clear over the course of the story that Mackenzie probably was a lot closer to "rude and scary" pre-accident than by the time she met Oliver - her old life doesn't fit her anymore.  Oliver, very astutely, encourages her to see that things have to be different now - fighting to get back to what was was not really possible - searching for a what-can-be was a better option.  And, I liked that very much about the book.  Trauma, any significant trauma changes you.  As you gather scars and bruises and pains (and joys for that matter), they leave indelible marks which become turning points in the journey - but there is no going back (however much we might wish it from time to time).  There is an implicit acknowledgement and understanding of that in the book and that, I think is its strength.  There is encouragement (without sappiness) that life goes on (but adjustments are necessary) and life can be good and joyful even after things have truly sucked - even if they're different than expected. (While everyone knows that sometimes life just continues to suck, this is a romance novel and there's no way you'd get a HEA out of that and who'd want to read it anyway?).   

I liked the main characters being somewhat older and I liked that children or the lack of them wasn't an issue in the book.  By the time the book ends, I suppose that Mackenzie and Oliver could still pursue that if they wanted to but it wasn't the focus of the book  and there is no baby epilogue here.  I guess readers are free to imagine whatever future they see as bright and happy but I thought the ending was pretty good just where it was.  I was glad of the epilogue though, because Oliver was only 5 months into what was going to be a messy divorce when he first meets Mackenzie and (as the book acknowledges) he is still pretty  messed up.  I needed to see a glimpse of them after they'd whethered those storms.

Also, truly cute dogs. 

What else? My difficulty with the book comes from my own background in the workers compensation industry. I had a whole thing about why but then I realised that it was REALLY BORING. For the purposes of the story, I could go with it, but my OCD did kick in a little.  However, for everyone else, who doesn't have my career background, it won't make any difference.

The author clearly knows about tv production though - that aspect of the book was interesting and felt very authentic. Also, she totally made me Google Mary De Garis (who is a real person).

Favourite Quote:   "I promise you that your heart will always be safe with me.  Always." 

Grade:  B  


Sonya Heaney said...

Whoops- I have an ARC of this and haven’t read it yet – and Sarah Mayberry is a favourite of mine!
I love that - *finally* - romances are moving away from compulsory breeding and, “We had insta-triplets with pretty ringlets” epilogues.

Kaetrin said...

@Sonya - babies just weren't an issue in this book. It was a refreshing change.

Marg said...

Hmm. This might be my Friday night read!

Kaetrin said...

@Marg - Sarah Mayberry is always a reliably good read IMO. :)