Maggie Moves On
Maggie Moves On is part Hallmark movie, part sassy comedy. It’s fun, breezy, easy on the heart and a pleasant diversion, but the pushy and sometimes aggressive hero knocked it down a couple of grade points.
House flipper Maggie Nichols has invested in a falling-down pile in Idaho, much to the consternation of her friend and co-worker, Dean, but that’s just par for the course. She has a successful YouTube series about rebuilds like this one, and the Campbell House feels like a prime opportunity for high hits. And she’s going to do it all in four months or less, then she’ll be gone with the breeze once again.
The structure was built years ago as a gesture of love from its owner to his wife, but in the hundreds odd years since, it’s seen some better days. So has Maggie’s heart. When she meets the handsome local landscaper Silas Wright, it seems that her luck is finally starting to turn around. Especially because Silas likes to work shirtless sometimes. And, when she’s lucky, pantsless.
Silas is easy-breezy with his life – he shares it with his pitbull, Kevin, a chubby failed service school dropout who has a propensity for getting himself into mischief. But the second he sees Maggie, Silas wants to marry her and settle down. Maggie is much harder to convince than anticipated; she travels for her series and has never stayed in one place for very long. She agrees to a sexual affair with no promise of the future. But a mystery related to the house, a local legend, a series of accidents, some complicated relationships with their developing found families and some pesky feelings intervene. But when the summer ends, who will be forced to pull up stakes and move on?
Maggie Moves On is just plain fun – at least when Silas isn’t pushing his agenda with Maggie way too hard. Lighthearted, nigh on goofy, it has a mostly sweet hero who displays some annoyingly pushy and over-the-top protective moments, a very prickly and driven heroine, and a dog that was probably Sam Kinison in a past life. It’s a fine romance, and it’s fun to have a hero be the one charming the heroine into falling in love.
Silas is difficult to get a bead on, though, sometimes sweet and sunshiney, sometimes making presumptive and possessive moves toward Maggie that left me uncomfortable (what was he thinking in regard to that kayak incident?). Maggie has her rough edges for a major reason, and the author peels back those edges to make her reluctance and eventually joy make a lot of sense.
The supporting cast is great. There’s Cody, a local teenage punk with distant parents and a heart of gold who straightens up and flies right thanks to the intervention of Maggie and Silas. There’s Dean’s relationship with his boyfriend, Michael, which might be finally getting serious. Silas and Maggie have other friends who are all well-drawn, smart, and contribute well to the story at large, and all of them are going through different things in their own lives. All of these characters help form an imperfect found family which turns out to be a great source of warmth and support for both characters. And if you like Score’s other novels, keep your eyes peeled for some of the cameos.
There’s a lot going on in the narrative, from Maggie and Silas’ career situations to their found families Kevin, and everything connected to the house, but the novel doesn’t fell poorly paced or overstuffed, and their romance feels reasonable and tender.
This is also a wonderfully funny book. I laughed at the occasional narrative interjections from Maggie’s YouTube subscribers, who try to do everything from sell her a special poultice to take care of a bruised toe to insulting her home repair choices. There’s no shortage of antics across the board from the supporting cast.
But I had to subtract even more points for Silas’ insta-lust. I wish he hadn’t fallen in love at first sight with Maggie and instead, had taken a little more time to get to know her before immediately declaring that they were going to be married. And his overreactions sometimes really grated on me.
Then again, maybe that would’ve damaged the magic brew that makes up Maggie Moves On, which is enchanting and delightful enough just as it is.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier