Hopping on an airplane every other weekend to escape life’s everyday drudgery sounds like a grand time. You can visit exotic locales, meet interesting people, or just take some time for yourself. But the heroine of Flying doesn’t do so for any of those reasons. She does it to lose herself in anonymous sex with complete strangers.
As part of the divorce agreement with her ex-husband, the CEO of an airline, Stella may fly standby at no cost anytime she wishes. She uses this benefit for travel to hook up with men she doesn’t have to see again. Her reasons for doing so are complex. A personal tragedy has left her with a lot of emotional baggage and she enjoys the brief escape her flying provides. For a while she can pretend she is not herself.
She’s quite clear that she does not crave any sort of romantic involvement with these men. But things take a different turn when she meets Matthew in an airport bar in Chicago. In town on business, she isn’t wearing one of her customary disguises. She’s drawn to him, however she’s also leery when he invites her back to his apartment after her flight is canceled due to the weather. Not being in total control is a problem for Stella, but she acquiesces and takes him up on his offer. So begins an affair of a different sort for the heroine.
For me, Megan Hart generally excels not only at writing prose that is descriptive and lyrical, but also at creating characters about whom it is easy to care. Flying presents two complex main characters, both with their own secrets and past tragedies. They both have messy lives and messy emotions. When they do get together, they don’t fall into place like two puzzle pieces, perfectly in sync. They have issues that keep them apart not just physically, but that create emotional distance between them as well. I liked this for the most part as they mirror real life problems many readers can relate to.
But I didn’t like either character very much.
Stella irritated me to no end with her endless self-pity. She did have a horrible tragedy in her past. Throughout the story though I felt she was constantly playing the victim. This got old for me really quickly. Complex and well-drawn as she was, she just was not relatable for me. When I think about some of the extraordinary heroines the author has created, like Elle from Dirty or Anne from Tempted, I think Stella could have been so much more than what we are given.
Matthew was an okay guy, but like Stella he never wanted to deal with any unpleasantness. He has an ex-wife who runs roughshod over him. I wanted to tell him multiple times to grow a pair and set some boundaries, which eventually happens, but not so much by any decisive action on his part. He does have a fascinating backstory, but it is revealed late in the book. I would really have liked to have seen that explored further, however the revelation comes so late that the reader isn’t privy to any of his emotional struggles within that context.
The ending is really more of a Happy For Now than a Happily Ever After, which works well in context though I had a few issues with it. The story ends rather abruptly and there is no real resolution to the conflicts that have plagued their relationship. I did feel that both of them were more willing to address problems than they had been previously, so a Happy For Now is probably the only realistic outcome given the stage of their relationship.
Flying is not a bad book at all. In truth, it’s a multilayered novel with fully realized characters. The conflicts are realistic, propelling the plot along nicely. The writing is beautiful and emotional, but it just didn’t provoke the same emotional reaction in me that the author’s previous work has. Which is a shame, because what had the potential to be a great story somehow derailed into “meh” territory.
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