I love Patricia Gaffney. She is one of the few authors whose writing I not only adore, but I would love to befriend her if the opportunity ever presented itself. I read her women’s fiction before discovering the romance genre. And when I did start reading romance, I almost fainted when I found her earlier works. Just thinking about To Have and To Hold can cause me to drool like a lovelorn puppy. I needed to say this because, well… I didn’t like Mad Dash.
Dash and Andrew Bateman are experiencing a “blip” in their 20 year marriage. It is Dash who instigates a separation much to Andrew’s bafflement. When an abandoned puppy is found on the couple’s doorstep, Andrew wants to it to take to the pound and Dash wants to keep it. That is the catalyst which has Dash leaving their Washington DC home to hole up in a secluded Virginian cabin.
Andrew is an associate professor of history at a local college. He loves his job, doesn’t want it to change in the least, and is not prepared for his wife leaving him. He’s always been the Oxford shirt wearing, stuck in a rut, preppy kind of guy. Completely the opposite of free-spirited Dash. This is the ultimate story of opposites attracting and it’s intriguing to see exactly what attracted two very different people to each other.
Dash is a photographer specializing in children’s portraiture. She married Andrew when she was young and had her beloved daughter not long after. Any chance to discover a life outside of being a mother and wife has disappeared. The recent death of her mother and her only child going away to college has made her restless. She was looking for an excuse to make a big change when the abandoned puppy came along to aid her flight. Gaffney’s writing is technically flawless with its fully developed characters, plot that moves right along, and perfect descriptions of people and places (and a special note about Dash’s profession: I made my living for a number of years as a children’s photographer.. Her description of the photography process and working with children and parents was so spot on I had a brief déjà vu back to my old studio days. Kudos, Ms. Gaffney). My problem is, as intriguing as Dash and Andrew are, I didn’t like them. There were moments I felt sympathy for each, usually more for Andrew, but in the end I wouldn’t want either of them at my dinner table. Especially Dash.
I wanted to like her and I did like her past persona, which is shown through stories and flashbacks. Present day Dash? Nah. She just isn’t my cup of tea. Her treatment of Andrew disgusted me, her selfishness and her attitude, too. I think many readers will disagree with me – and essentially my grade – depending on how they find Dash. She’s isn’t a bad person, and some might think she’s a kindred spirit. I just couldn’t warm up to her and since so much of the novel is from her point of view, my reading experience wasn’t very pleasurable.
I looked forward to reading Mad Dash. Even though I didn’t like it, it won’t deter me from Pat Gaffney’s future works. Just to remind myself why I worship the ground she walks on, I’m grabbing my beloved copy of To Have and To Hold and try to erase Dash from my memory.