Mayday is a blast from the past – the good kind, not the kind that makes you regret ever parting a book’s covers. While it isn’t as strong as Dade’s more recent works, it’s a likable little novel that reminded me of Parks and Recreation.
Helen Murphy is a librarian with a solid friendship group, a good family and a career she loves. She loves Niceville, Virginia – which is located in Nice County, natch. She’s also something she doesn’t want to be at the age of thirty-six – a virgin who lives with her parents. Out with her two best friends Angie and Sarah, (heroines of books two and fout in the series), one night at a local bar, she decides to change at least part of that situation by approaching a handsome and well-known guy she’s had a crush on for ages.
Mayor Wes Ramierez knew Helen in high school, though during their only face-to-face encounter he threw up all over her backpack and called her by the wrong name. He manages to call her “Tiffani” again when Helen approaches him to (badly) flirt. But her red hair and winning ways work, and Wes soon agrees to take Helen home.
This should be the culmination of Helen’s fantasy, but Wes is a one-pump chump in bed, and the loss of her virginity is a far cry from her fantasies (she even muses to herself that she’s had better orgasms solo – ouch!). When Wes tells her that he can’t see her again due to his campaigning for more funding for the local library, she knows it’s BS and vows she’ll never go out with him again, having her friends pick her up from his house instead of staying the night.
Her edict sticks for a full year, but they’re reunited when Helen accepts a new role as the library’s Community Outreach Coordinator. That means she and Wes will be working together as part of a committee to get Wes’ plans for a town May Day celebration off the ground.
At this point, Wes feels nothing but guilt for the way he treated Helen during their one-hour stand. He knows he used her as a way to try to blot out the pain of his own failures, and that it wasn’t fair to Helen for him to be so selfish. Her friends tell him he’s got a lot of groveling to do right off the bat, so grovel Wes does, but Helen is not willing to listen to him after all this time. But the more they work together, the warmer she becomes toward him. Can they successfully mix business with pleasure?
I love Dade’s sense of humor (the essay about a newspaper columnist finding their proposed maypole disgustingly phallic is hilarious), her fearless nerdiness, and her plus-sized heroines are icing atop a gorgeous cake. Mayday isn’t a perfect book, but it’s got a lot of things that keep the reader entertained.
I loved Helen, her love of books and her yearning to be seen as a whole human being. I loved Wes’ awkwardness – when he tries to seduce Helen once again, he is completely unconfident about what he’s doing.
The problem is that he lets a whole year pass between that awkward first encounter and his attempt at approaching her again. If he’d let things cool for a few days or so and then come back to her, instead of letting fate work its way through their lives it would’ve made more sense. On the other hand, their relationship is charming, hot and sweet. I liked the complexity of their careers and how Wes’ pursuit of political progress often clashed with the needs and aims of the festival.
The book is achingly funny while being incredibly sexy. Dade is one of those authors who manages to strike a rare balance between hot and ridiculous, and she does it so even-handedly that it’s a treat.
That humor and all of that sexy fun are what make Mayday a great addition to the collection of any newfound Dade fan’s bookshelf. Pick it up and imagine what fun it would be to twirl around a maypole – no matter how phallic it looks.
NOTE: At time of writing, Mayday is not available in digital formats.