Wait for It
Fans of gritty, blue-collar romance will enjoy Wait For It, a dark and sexy look at a woman emerging from an abusive relationship.
Tiffany married Blake’s abusive brother Phil, whose messes Blake has been cleaning up for decades. Blake is wealthy, thanks to managing the racecar inventions of his friend, and the first time he meets Tiffany he cuts her a check and considers his obligations discharged. They cross paths again a few years later, as Tiffany, now the mother of three small children, tries to leave Phil, and Blake realizes things are going to be more complicated than he wants them to be.
These are two people with a lot of problems, and the author doesn’t gloss over them or how difficult they are to resolve. Sometimes this means that Blake is a complete asshole, because that’s who he’s been for years. But I liked that Tiffany stands up to him, and Blake starts to like and respect her for it. More importantly, Tiffany starts to like and respect herself. Their chemistry is well-written.
At the same time, neither of these characters is terribly memorable. I’ve read a lot of Blakes – working-class guys who hit it rich through some sort of manual skill – usually involving vehicles – but keep it real with their street connections and tough attitudes. While I’ve read fewer Tiffanys, nothing tremendously original or detailed is done with her emerging-from-domestic violence storyline. The author is sensitive in dealing with some of the sexual scars and strategies that Tiffany has acquired, and what it means to her to, for instance, associate oral sex with rewarding her husband for not drinking his entire paycheck. Beyond coming out of her life with Phil, Tiffany’s major defining characteristic is her motherhood, and I did like her in that role. I liked her practicality in accepting money from Blake. I also liked that she doesn’t have angelic children, and that her oldest child shows realistic scars from the violence to which he’s been exposed.
In other areas, the domestic violence plot wasn’t what it could – or should – have been. All characters place faith in restraining orders, which are not magical force fields but legal punishments that often kick in after it’s too late. Custody isn’t presented as a major issue. I know Phil didn’t like his kids, but going after them to hurt the mother is a typical abuser move. Worst, the book ignores guns completely. Blake and Tiffany act as if teaching Tiffany some fighting, which will allow her to hit Phil back, is going to be satisfying and safe. Nobody asks about what could happen if Phil is carrying a gun when Tiffany hits back, or if he’d use it before getting close enough to be hit, or if he’d come back with one to escalate revenge. For a book that is so meticulously thoughtful about examining the mental and emotional impact of domestic violence, omitting this horrible reality on top of legal generalities is a major oversight and letdown.
O’Keefe is a very good writer, making her point with simple, straightforward prose that suits her regular-person characters. At one point, as Tiffany starts to come into her own, she says “My life had a new center. My kids yes. And maybe… me. Maybe I could be in the center of my own life.” That’s not only great for a recovering abuse survivor, but also for any story about a mom of three on her own. There is a lot of profanity, but I would have seen a character like Blake as unrealistic without it.
There is a “type” of darker, borderline erotic romance, and this book is a perfect example of it. If you like that type, then definitely give Wait for It a try.