In this romance novel, the protagonists struggle to find balance between their work commitments and their private lives.
Julia Haynes is an insurance policy analyst in the midst of a divorce; Tom Hartmann is a dermatologist, married with two children. The pair team up to write a book on over-the-counter medications for skin problems, and, in short order, begin having an affair. As Julia rises up the corporate chain of her company, she’s transferred to other cities, but she and Hartmann still meet for romantic trysts.
As readers might discern from the above summation, the novel suffers from a basic flaw: There is no suspense, no build-up to the abrupt “twist” ending. The author cleverly ties up the beginning and the ending with the repeated use of one line, but there are some 300-plus pages in the middle in which nothing significant happens. Julia and Tom explore cities together, take vacations, and have the same painful love chats over and over. The book is long on travelogue and short on character development, gliding along on the wings of love. No one seems troubled by Tom’s marital status. Julia is content because she’s busy with her career; her friends and family readily embrace Tom, even at holiday tables; and his wife remains a shadowy figure tangential to the plot. Years pass, although the author never spells out how many.
Stylistically, the author needs to tone down her propensity to overuse quotation marks around random words (“She ‘sniffed,’ then turned her head…”) as well as exclamation points (“Julia was busy at work!”). Even more distracting, she capitalizes words for no apparent reason, as in: “Are you still at the OFFICE?’”
The book is an easy read, and despite the story’s flaws, the author shows promise. Her future work will succeed if she can hone the basics of plot and character building, refine her technical standards — and perhaps write with a little less enthusiasm.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.