Do opposites really attract? And if they do, what makes the couple stay together if each person in the relationship is so totally different? Susan Fox provides the best answers I’ve ever read in a romance novel to explain how this happens and how this fragile glue binds the lovers.
Jenna Fallon is a true free spirit with the butterflies tattooed on her shoulder to prove it. She’s just been in Santa Cruz, counting peregrine falcons as part of the University of California project there. In Mellow Yellow, her 1974 MGB convertible, she’s now tooling up the California coast on the way to her parents’ house in Vancouver for her younger sister’s wedding when her car breaks down at a service station.
Jenna doesn’t know what job she will be doing or where she will be after the wedding since she relies on the universe to move her in the right direction. After a love affair at 17 with a 20-year old free spirit who broke her heart and gave her an STD that ruined her chances of ever having children, she’s been content not to plan for the future but to enjoy life to the fullest – which includes never staying with a man very long.
Marine biologist Dr. Mark Chambers is driving up the California coast in his VW Westfalia camper, on his way to Vancouver for a science conference and a visit with the Canadian grandparents who raised him. His mother had been a free spirit, living in a commune, using a variety of drugs, and indulging in free sex until her death. Mark never knew which of the men in the commune was his father, so his rigid professional grandparents took him after his mother’s death, setting him on a straight and narrow track to success.
Jenna and Mark collide in the coffee shop across the street from the service station where Jenna’s car stopped. She wheedles a ride from him, first surprising him by making him taste the strawberry pie at the café. Mark is usually oblivious to what he eats, so taking time to savor the pie the way Jenna shows him is a rare treat. Not only that, but they both recognize the potential for sex, which will make the trip much more interesting.
Fox masterfully recounts the little interactions between the two that make them appreciate the other’s point of view and their coming together over simple likes and dislikes. Mark’s hot on environmental issues as is Jenna. Jenna loves to learn new things and Mark is a fount of information about scientific discoveries. But as they travel, they begin to open up to more than superficial ideas and beliefs. Mark tells Jenna about life on the commune and his mother while Jenna talks about her brilliant family, each of whom has made a mark in the world. While Mark detests free spirits, he begins to see the wealth of possibilities in the world he is passing up because he is so rigid and planned. Jenna, on her part, begins to understand that being super organized and committed to a stand isn’t a bad way to be.
All in all, this is an excellent book with only one really disconcerting flaw, one that I think would annoy most readers: Each chapter begins in first person. Now unlike some readers, I’m okay with first person. But Fox abruptly changes to third person after a few pages of Jenna’s first person thoughts and ideas. The third person accounts are mostly from Mark’s viewpoint.
Having not read either of the previous two books in this series, I don’t know if this is Fox’s habitual way of writing. But it was enough to throw me right out of the story in what is essentially a very well written novel.