Wait For It
Jenn McKinlay’s Wait For It is a breezy contemporary romance with humor and heart, and a complex look at loss, courage, and happiness. What starts off as a mostly chick lit kind of book wraps up as a romance with a quick HEA. McKinlay spends so much time setting up Annabelle’s impulsive life and background that she misses the opportunity to enrich the developing romance between her two main characters.
Annabelle Martin is a graphic artist, whiling away the time in Boston with her friends-with-benefits ex-husband, until her best friend offers her a fresh start in Phoenix. She’s a free spirit with little regard to time management and, as the author reminds us often, is an artist. As though it explains away Annabelle’s casual disregard for rules and makes it okay for her to be perpetually late. But she’s the Creative Director now, so slipping in late with a fleeting apology doesn’t cut it, especially when the team assumes she got the job because she’s the boss’s BFF. Now she’s navigating a nemesis at work who regularly lobs passive aggressive compliments her way, and her grumpy landlord who issued a fifty-some page tome full of rules for living on his estate. It’s a lot for a rule-breaker with an immediate gratification streak.
“Why am I impulsive and reckless?” I asked.
“Because life is short,” I said.
Nick Daire is a self-starter with the Midas touch, forced to take every day calmly as it comes during the arduous recovery period following a stroke. Patience, hard work and determination have gotten his body stronger, but his overwhelming fear of relapse have kept him a prisoner in his home and in his mind. His live-in trainer and friend Jackson encourages Nick to seek treatment for PTSD, but Nick isn’t interested in another treatment regimen. He’s built a safe nest at home and is content to shelter in place and be grumpy … until he isn’t. I loved everything about Nick.
Annabelle collides with Nick’s world like a ton of bricks. She’s a technicolor cacophony of vibrance to Nick’s black and white lullaby, and a force that he can only resist for so long. The slow build up to their meeting takes forever, and it’s so satisfying when they do meet because they are textbook examples of not judging a book by its cover.
Wait For It is billed as a rom com, but I found the humor to be more sarcastic than I prefer. There’s a lot happening in the story, and at times the secondary characters have more page time than the leads (hello, Jackson!). Every sentence is packed with information, and when told in dual first person PoV, it was sometimes hard to keep up.
What McKinlay does best is develop her characters. Both Annabelle and Nick are sympathetic individuals working through huge changes that have altered their perspectives on life. But they’re coming from totally different situations, and they way they approach loss and achievement is vastly different. Annabelle, for the most part, has brought on much of her own grief. At twenty-eight, she’s been divorced twice, she’s late everywhere she goes, and she pushes the limits of everything and everybody around her all the time. She’s impulsive and hasn’t quite figured out yet that her decisions have a butterfly effect. The move to Phoenix is good for her because it’s a reset; a chance to start afresh and build up her reserves again. To maybe mature and learn about balance. Nick’s stroke at thirty-five wove in a sinister, paralyzing fear to his psyche that is nearly crippling to overcome. His body’s healed, but his confidence is damaged. When you don’t know what caused the stroke, how can you prevent it happening again in the future? That fear shadows everything else in his life, until he decides that loving Annabelle is worth facing his fears about his health and the future.
Wait For It is a reminder that we are often our own worst enemies, but when we can get out of our own heads and out of our comfort zones, the reward is worth the risk. McKinlay touches on a pretty universal idea, but the execution falls flat, with too many ancillary complications with secondary characters.
~ Dolly R. Sickles
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