Monday, 15 July 2013

Making it Last by Ruthie Knox

Making it Last (2013) (novella)
Ruthie Knox
Grade: A-
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Camelot series: (1) How to Misbehave, (2) Along Came Trouble, (3) Flirting with Disaster, (4) Making it Last

Amber Mazzara has been married for ten years, loves her three kids to pieces, but has had enough. After ten years of constantly having to look after at least one child, all her boys are now in school, leaving her bereft as she waits at home for them to finish school; her husband Tony is forced to travel to where the work is as the housing market has yet to pick up, and Amber feels like she’s losing herself.

A family trip to Jamaica is the last straw. They were barely able to afford this first family holiday in years, but they weren’t about to miss Amber’s brother’s wedding. Amber didn’t get that tan, massage or drinks with little floating umbrellas. Instead, she had to keep an eye on her hyperactive kids who deemed themselves too old for the activities run by the resort while Tony took endless calls, managing a build despite while being on holiday.

When Amber and Tony find themselves in Jamaica without the kids in tow, they have the opportunity to reconnect and save their marriage in order to make it last …

This was heart-wrenching, gritty and painfully honest. I can’t relate to Amber’s situation at all, but it felt so personal and almost too intrusive in its intimacy. Along Came Trouble and Flirting with Disaster had alluded to Amber and Tony’s troubles, but there had never been enough to suggest that their marriage was on the brink of disaster. All protagonists have their problems, but I’ve never seen them exposed to this extent, for the world to see. After watching two couples find their happy ever after in quick succession, this is a huge change in direction and really very clever. It’s not pretty, but Ms Knox has dared to show us the reality: that happy ever after doesn’t come with no strings attached, and you need to work hard to keep it. I admire her for that.

Not that I’m not glad that the characters all have their happy ending, but this does seem to be the end of the Camelot series. I’ve still yet to read Amber and Tony’s first story, which I’ll get onto soon, and I think I’m going to like the comparisons and contrasts between the people that they were and the people that they’ve become. I always enjoy epilogues because when I find a good story, I never want it to end, but rarely do you get to revisit characters and discover this much about what has happened since you last saw them.

This was a thoughtful book. I imagine very difficult to write, since so much of it is so deeply personal, and not quite the champagne-and-roses you expect of a romance novel. It takes guts to write and that’s one of the things that I admire most about this book, besides the story itself. Not quite what I expected after two very mainstream (yet fantastic) romance novels, and for that I only respect Ms Knox even more.

Image courtesy of Ruthie Knox

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