2008, Contemporary Romance
Berkley, $7.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425224856
Part of a series
Unravel Me is the second entry in Christie Ridgeway's Malibu and Ewe series. Although I haven't read the first, I found this to be an enjoyable, stand-alone read.
Juliet fell madly in love when she was 13 years old. The object of her attention was a grown man on the fast track to becoming a General and a political superstar. When she married him years later, the press labeled her the Deal Breaker because the retired General was dropped from consideration as a Presidential candidate as a result of the marriage.
Juliet's husband died eleven months earlier, after a lingering battle with cancer. During the last months of his life, Noah – an ex-soldier and recent law school graduate – served as her husband's assistant and still lives in her pool house assisting Juliet with remaining tasks while awaiting his bar exam results. It doesn't take long to figure out that Noah really stayed on because he is fascinated by Juliet. While he doesn't think he's good enough for her, he wants to help her and be close to her as long as possible.
While her husband was alive, Juliet only viewed Noah as her husband's assistant. She was completely loyal to, and in love with, her husband. It's taken eleven months for her to begin to develop any feelings for another man and those feelings catch her completely by surprise.
I like both Noah and Juliet. They are complex characters, whose personalities are revealed slowly over the course of the book. Neither is quite as simple as they initially appear. I enjoyed seeing their friendship change to a sexual attraction, and then eventually, to a genuine romance. Along the way, the couple faces numerous obstacles to a long-term relationship, including Noah's belief that he isn't good enough for Juliet, Juliet's feelings of guilt and continuing love for her dead husband, and the secrets Noah is keeping for the General.
During her eight-year marriage, Juliet socialized primarily with her husband's friends, living a life more appropriate to a 50-year old than a 30-year old. I enjoyed watching Juliet grow over the course of the book, to open herself up to a range of possibilities.
In addition to Juliet and Noah's romance, the book contains several minor subplots that I found to be less compelling. Juliet recently learned that her biological father is a sperm donor, and that she has two sisters. One of her sisters was the heroine of the first book in the series, while the second owns the Malibu & Ewe a knitting shop (and will be the heroine in the next book).
Late in the book a number of scenes are devoted to Juliet's 25-year old step-daughter Marlys. The woman still resents Juliet's marriage to her father, and is determined to cause problems for Juliet. While the stepdaughter is an interesting, flawed character, I felt that her scenes took away from the romance between Juliet and Noah, a romance that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Despite my feelings about the subplots, I can heartily recommend Unravel Me as a good, contemporary romance.
-- LinnieGayl Kimmel
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