Effie McIver is the protagonist at the heart of Nearest and Dearest, a romantic comedy rich in revelations and complex family dynamics.
Living alone after her divorce, Effie gets a wake-up call from her doctor and resolves to improve her cardiovascular health. Then an unsettling encounter—a bit of reciprocal flirting with her own son-in-law—leads her to dip back into the dating pool, with highly mixed results.
Humor typical of the rom-com genre ensues. Invited over to “dud” date Oliver’s home, for example, there’s a close call for Effie when his toilet won’t flush. One date uses acronyms incorrectly; instead of “LTR” standing for “long-term romance,” she learns too late that he’s hoping to “Learn To Rumba.” On the more serious side, good-looking contender Kenneth gives Effie an STD and later denies any responsibility for her wellbeing.
Author Caroline Jolly writes about Effie’s trials with snap and verve. Effie is a well-rounded character, prone to drinking too much and over-analytical to a fault. Her passion for “diabolical” Sudoku puzzles speaks to her desire for an ordered universe, but love tends to upend those ideals and scatter them where it will. Over drinks (and many coffee and pastry dates), she and best friend Susie talk through her life changes, and as the story unwinds, she faces some hard truths about herself and her family.
With its intimate look at sex and dating in midlife and the effects it has on a large family, the story is impressive in its scope. The cover design is understated but perfectly references the story, which is unique in its focus on a slightly older woman. In sum, this one’s a winner!
BlueInk Heads-Up: The author uses British style single quote marks for dialogue and spellings, which may be distracting to American readers. The Star designation is given with the acknowledgement that some spelling and punctuation errors (many missing commas, for example) remain in need of attention.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.