Trust in Me
Kathryn Shay’s publisher has labeled Trust in Me a romance, but I have a hard time describing it as such. If I had a gun to my head and had to come up with my own label I’d say this one is closer to what’s loosely called Women’s Fiction than anything else. That’s not to say there isn’t romance here. In point of fact Shay’s latest has three ongoing, slowly developed romances and each is given just about equal weight. Though the book is supposed to center on widowed Beth Donovan and her love interest Tucker Quaid, it is just as much about Beth’s brother Linc and his love Margo, and their friend Annie and her ex-husband Joe. Each of the six has relationship ups and downs, baggage from the past and present, and family difficulties to deal with. The dealing with all of these things is where the focus – if you could call it focus in this somewhat meandering work – lies.
Except for Tucker Quaid, all of the players mentioned grew up together in the small New York town of Glen Oaks. Because their home lives ranged from neglectful to downright abusive, the teens banded together and called themselves the Outlaws. The sixth member of their group was Danny, who later became Beth’s husband. After Danny was killed in an accident in the sport he loved, Winston Cup Racing, Beth was left to raise their son Ronny on her own. Ten years after the accident Tucker Quaid, the man who feels responsible for Danny’s death, returns to Glen Oaks to get the racetrack up and running again. His return sets Ronny on a destructive path and only with the help of her friends and family, and now Tucker, does Beth have a hope of saving him.
Beth and Tucker’s difficulties in getting together could more then fill a book and yet they’re only sporadically addressed as the book continues. Ronny hates Tucker, Beth is worried about Ronny, Tucker is attracted to Beth, and vice versa. Those facts are established early on and then periodically repeated as the book, advances (hmm, it doesn’t really advance, perhaps progresses – well no, not that either. Okay it continues. There, that’s the word). Every character continues to move in the book but any progression in their lives is exceedingly slow.
Of the other two couples, in fact of all three couples, I was most interested in Annie and her ex-husband, Joe. Five years ago Annie left Joe because he was physically abusing her and she had finally had enough. With his return to Glen Oaks, all her old fears have come up again. Joe has had years of therapy and would like to, at the very minimum, be a part of his kid’s life once more. Annie is wary but knows she would have a battle on her hands if she wanted to totally keep him away and that wouldn’t be fair to anyone at this point. Though Joe’s abuse was terrible and violent, his recovery is one of the most believable I’ve read. He not only got counseling, he spent a year in a rehab-type facility and makes himself work on the problem every day of his life. Seeing Annie struggle to accept him back into her life, even if it’s just to see his kids, was interesting. Reading as the two inch their way back into each other’s hearts was moving.
Ms. Shay’s attempts to draw the other emotional struggles in as moving a fashion as the one between Annie and Joe didn’t succeed as well. Part of the problem is that these people become pretty repetitive and frankly, boring, in their problems. They suffer so nobly and I know I should care more, but much of the time I wanted to yell at them to get over it already. They had rough childhoods but man, could someone just move on? Perhaps that’s why Joe and Annie were interesting when the others were not. Both had actually progressed. Hey, at least someone did. If Beth and Tucker and Linc and Margo could have done the same in a speedier fashion, Shay’s latest would have done a little better with this reader.