Grin and Bear It
Stacy Kavanaugh is just trying to get on with her life. Hopefully just days, if not hours, away from negotiating the final property settlement with her soon-to-be-ex husband Daniel, she decides to give into his latest requests – the fondue set and pasta machine. Dealing with him or his bimbo girlfriend has become too much of an effort for such trivialities and just isn’t worth the fight.
But life keeps handing Stacy surprises, especially when she is informed by a rather good looking sheriff’s deputy that she is now a widow rather than a soon-to-be divorcee. It seems that Daniel is assumed dead after his single engine plane crashed into the side of a mountain. The authorities can find no body and their best guess is that a grizzly bear got to the scene first. Knowing she won’t really miss Daniel or even grieve all that much for him, Stacy can’t quite believe she, the despised almost-ex-wife, will be responsible for making his funeral arrangements and laying his affairs to rest.
Stacy’s life revolves around her business, Ancestors and Others, a firm that conducts background checks and genealogy research. Her closest friends are also her two employees and insist on providing Stacy with support whether it is needed or not. Attempting to throw herself into her work after putting to rest not only her husband but also six months of nasty divorce proceedings, Stacy finds peace is not yet within her reach. The police are now looking for a killer rather than the cause of an accidental plane crash and are wondering just what connection Stacy may have to it all. Meanwhile, similar frightening events are occurring in Stacy’s life on a regular basis and with each incident she thinks things cannot possibly get worse – only to be proven wrong again and again.
Stacy is a woman extraordinaire who has the ability to survive under crushing circumstances with nary a blink of an eye or loss of her sense of humor. In fun or mortal danger, Stacy’s mouth never stops throwing verbal zingers at anyone and everyone. Although her relentless barrage of witty comebacks was entertaining at first, the charm wore thin as the book progressed. This is a woman who runs a company, hunts killers, survives attempts on her life, and decorates her home with a questionable cash source, all while in the middle of an investigation, and she never seems to break a sweat. The message definitely is that this thirty-something, slightly overweight woman can handle it all without the help of any man in her life now or in the future. She is the ultimate definition of self sufficiency.
BYRON categorizes Grin and Bear It as romance – perhaps because it is published by Harlequin, albeit in their new, women’s fiction series line – but it read more as women’s fiction mystery and, in fact, LaFoy’s website refers to it as such. This is a tale of a woman, her cat, her two best friends, and a large assortment of secondary characters to round it all out. There are some laugh-out-loud moments and a substantial number of what I would normally refer to as TSTL behavior – but hey, I don’t know if that description could really apply since Stacy is a woman who can brave just about any situation and still come out on top and do it all with a cynical smile on her face.
The mounting suspense is effective as well as entertaining as a handsome insurance investigator joins Stacy in her quest to clear her name and find the bad guys. The book clips along at a good pace and doesn’t slow down until the suspense culmination, which proved to be a disappointment by comparison. Suddenly the action, the dialogue, and the tension became irritatingly formulistic and dull and caused my interest to dwindle rapidly.
Grin and Bear It is certainly a light book and, although its originality wanes towards the end, it retains a zany storyline with its smart mouthed heroine who talks too much and tackles life’s problems with gusto. And that bear on the cover with a bib at his neck? It’s Stacy’s vision of her husband’s death so be prepared for a bit irreverent humor as well.