Civil engineer and romance writer Holly Brandon’s Life in the Chastity Zone is the first in a romance series starring protagonist Chastity “Chase” Morgan, a smart, funny, tightly-wound, 30-year-old doctoral student in structural engineering.
All her life, Chastity has dreamed of three things: being a top engineer, falling in love with the man perfectly meant for her, and having a fairytale wedding and marriage. She’s worked hard to achieve the first goal, and soon will fulfill the other two, having found her fiancé Grant.
But when Grant announces at the family Christmas party that he has just eloped and introduces his new husband, Chase spirals downward. Enter Roxie, Chase’s cousin and closest friend, who shares none of her cousin’s romantic illusions. Roxie challenges Chase with a set of resolutions, including: “Travel the world…; Meet a bunch of hot guys; Have a lot of sex; If you’re fortunate enough, fall in love.”
Thus begins a series of fast-paced twists and turns, with humor and insight at each bend. Along the way, readers meet Chase’s eccentric and loving parents; her martini-toddling grandmother; the clairvoyant ten-year old next door; the mean girls from high school who still plague her—and other eccentric characters.
The narrative has a zingy pace with witty, smart, and often humorous dialogue and dynamic action that keeps readers pleasingly on edge. Brandon’s own background in engineering shines through in Chastity’s penchant to compare men she meets with buildings. (“[He] reminds me of an old timber-framed building, lightweight but sturdy and durable.”)
The story’s first four chapters are problematic, featuring some jarring transitions and incomplete information. Combined with the whirl of activity, this hinders readers as they try to orient to the story’s characters and their motivations. Thereafter, however, the narrative smooths out and sends readers on a fun rollercoaster ride.
Lovers of chick lit and romance looking for a new character to follow will enjoy Chase’s humor, intelligence, and quirky take on life.
Also available as an ebook.