Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cherime MacFarlane - Then They Were Six

It is 2001. He knows his business must grow or he has to give it up. But he just is not ready to quit so it's a last ditch stand to finish a vintage muscle car. If he can sell it for what it's worth he might make it. But the woman stranded on the side of the road is a distraction he cannot ignore. She needs help. She is desperate. Without the car she will lose her job. Running from an abusive ex husband, she and her daughter must have that paycheck. What is the mechanic going to ask of her? Are there strings attached to his offer of assistance?  

Comment: I came across this title when I was browsing some lists on goodreads. I don't remember exactly what was the subject that interested me but this book was there and by the blurb I got the idea it would be a good romance, even more so because it is set on Alaska and there aren't that many books set there or, at least, not that I have read so far. So I was interested enough to buy the book at Smashwords and now, a couple months later, I've started it.

This book tells us the story of Stu, a divorced man with three children, who works as a mechanic. Stu lives in one place and his ex wife and kids live in another city and Stu only gets to see his children on weekends but it's a lengthy trip and Stu feels tired all the time.
One day he rescues Margaret, a woman stranded on the road because her car broke down. He helps her and because she doesn't have much money, she offers to help at his shop with the books, something Stu spends too much time with and never that well.
While they get to know one another, Stu learns Margaret - Megs - has a daughter of her own, her ex is an alcoholic and there's something between the two of them. With time their feelings develop into a relationship and eventually they marry. But can happiness be that simple?

All readers know not to judge a book by its cover. But before commenting on the story, I just have to say the cover of this book is really bad. I can understand the need for a cheaper cover or something not as detailed like when it's published by bigger publishers that obviously have more access to designers and artists, but it's really sad to see the author didn't have much luck with the covers. If only they stuck to Alaskan scenery they would be mostly fine, but the photoshoped images of the couple and drawers is really too much unnecessary details. And ugly at that. Plus the couple has nothing to do with Stu and Meg...

Ok, so the story. I have to say that when I read that Stu and Meg both had children and the title sort of gave the idea they would all be a big family, I immediately thought about another book I loved, by Danielle Steel, that has the same concept. I really thought I'd get an amazing story, as emotional and focused on the changes in the family life like in mrs Steel book.
However, this book isn't like that and the talk and dealing with a new family situation happens more on Megs's daughter side. Stu's children have a role and we see them deal with the new way the family happens, but because they keep living with Stu's ex, the adaptation isn't as radical, the six of them don't actually live together permanently and I kind of expected that, I thought that would be the challenge and the interest. But no, the biggest issues were about how Margaret and Stu dealt with living together - 95% of the time pretty well - and how to solve daily life issues, like car related business.
Stu and Megs' relationship isn't bad, in fact I liked how slowly they started to look at one another, but then something happens, way before any real feelings were acknowledged and suddenly they are intimate and saying I do to marriage. I thought it was rather sudden. The passage from thinking the other is hot and special and someone they would like to know better to being married isn't much. I would have expected a bit more sexual tension, a bit more seduction moments if one can call it that so we could more easily accept their feelings were true and lasting. I just think the execution missed some key points to make it more romantic and realistic.
The author clearly loves Alaska and that part I liked. It was interesting to read about the region where the action was set, the type of living some people there have and how some things work. There is a lot of talk about cars as well, Stu is a mechanic after all, and although I didn't really feel interested in the details, it added some important background and veracity to his work and why he did certain things.
All in all, this had interesting elements that I enjoyed reading about, but I also confess I expected something a bit more romantic than this. Not that it is a bad romance, but it's very plain in development and a bit of fun and magic in the relationship would have added a bit more flavor to everything. Still, I respect the author's style and I'll try to read something else by her one day.
Grade: 6/10

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