Making It Last

Grade : A-

I don’t read short stories or novellas and avoid marriage-in-trouble books. If I’d realized this was a novella about a 14-year marriage that’s in trouble I never would have picked it for review. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. While definitely not what I expected, this was a powerful, touching romance that I read in one sitting and that left me wanting more.

This features Amber and Tony, the couple that met and fell in love in How to Misbehave, the first in the author’s Camelot series. Amber and Tony aren’t having the rosy, picture-perfect future so often seen in romance epilogues. Yes, they’re still married after 14 years, with three young sons and a beautiful home. But Amber is completely and utterly lost.

Amber’s entire family has been in Montego Bay for her brother’s wedding (the hero of Along Came Trouble). This hasn’t been the dream getaway of Amber’s fantasies. While waiting for the shuttle to the airport to return home, Amber feels her life spiraling out of control; all she looks forward to is time alone to cry. Before Amber can get on the shuttle Tony surprises her and says that her aunt has arranged for her to stay at the resort alone for a few days while Tony takes the boys home. Amber knows grand gestures like this aren’t going to make things better, but she stays, almost incapable of deciding what to do at the resort.

In the opening pages, told completely from Amber’s point of view, I began to think that Tony must be a complete jerk. Then we’re introduced to a chapter from his POV and oh my. My heart broke for both of them. He loves her so much, knows something is horribly wrong with Amber, and doesn’t know how to fix things. They’re both lost. Once back in Ohio, Tony realizes leaving Amber was the wrong thing to do and at the urging of his mother-in-law heads back to Montego Bay to salvage his marriage.

The author does a wonderful job conveying the emotions Amber and Tony are feeling and the events that have led them to this point. Tony is in the construction business and the housing bubble, combined with his brother’s resignation from the family business, have left him financially strapped and working non-stop. Preoccupied with raising kids and paying the mortgage, they’ve lost each other. Now that all three boys are in school Amber feels lost and doesn’t know what she wants. Does this sound trivial? It’s not. Amber’s fear and desperation are palpable.

There are a few minor secondary characters, but the focus of the book is strictly on Tony and Amber. The presence and impact of their three children is felt, but they’re only on page in a few scenes. A lot of the book takes place in Tony and Amber’s minds as they try to figure out what to do. Normally I hate that in a book, but it completely worked for me here.

In a note to readers Ms. Knox comments that she wanted to write about one of the pausing points in a marriage, of how life happens to love, and how couples are forced to decide how to go forward. She did all that and succeeded in not only holding my interest, but making me truly care about Amber and Tony.

This is the second book I’ve read by the author and she’s now moved onto my rather limited auto-buy list; if she writes it, I’ll buy it and read it.

LinnieGayl Kimmel

My first memory is sitting with my mother on a blanket in our backyard surrounded by books and she is reading one of them to me. My love of reading was encouraged by my parents and it continues to today. I’ve gone through a lot of different genres over the years, but I currently primarily read mysteries (historical mysteries are my favorites) and romances (focusing on contemporaries, categories, and steampunk). When I’m not reading or working, I love to travel, knit, and work on various community projects.
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