Petula Parker balances romance, quirkiness and wisdom in her romantic-comedic novel Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour.
Kate Billings is living in Scottsdale, Arizona, working as an attorney in a firm aptly named Krapp & Lipschitz, L.L.P. It’s time for her annual work review, as well as year-end bonus time. But the partners are not impressed with Kate, instead focusing on her “attitude problem,” her pro bono work that cost the firm money and her semi-freckled face.
Kate also has a tense relationship with her family, who can’t forget she was obese until going through law school, when the stress of school caused her to shed half her body weight. Adding insult to injury, her bonus is a smoked ham and bottle of makeup concealer to hide her freckles.
Kate’s sanity snaps, and she jumps on a plane to Barcelona, Spain, to reunite with Diego Salazar—a man she met and fell for when he was an exchange student staying in her house 10 years earlier. Once she’s settled in Barcelona and armed with Salazar’s address courtesy of Kate’s mother, who kept in contact with the family, Kate begins her dubious mission. Not too long after arriving, she and Diego accidentally connect at a grocery store and they rekindle their friendship. However, as Kate holds tight to her fantasy-Diego world, she also slowly comes to important life realizations.
Parker’s novel is a pleasant and humorous read. Kate (despite her desperate actions that include performing an outlandish magic spell to influence Diego) is a smart, quirky, witty heroine who has a satisfying arc. There are also several clever plot twists.
Parker’s dissatisfied-with-life-and-need-a-big-change storyline is nothing new, yet she manages to bring a fresh, funny voice to the genre. She has crafted a satisfying novel that will make readers cringe for Kate, at times, but also giggle, sigh and smile as the pages turn.