by Alice Wootson, contemporary (2006)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-807-8
Alice Wootson's Ready To Take A Chance is a simple story. Shana Garner ends her thirteen years of marriage to her husband Elliot when she catches him in bed with another woman and throws his things along with that man out of the house. However, a new love may be waiting for her in the form of Kyle Rayburn, the retired basketball player. That's it for the story, really. There are no subplots involving dead bodies, just two people slightly older than the usual characters in a romance novel trying to find love a second time around.
I've always liked Ms Wootson's storytelling style and it's no different in Ready To Take A Chance. She has a vivid way of describing a scene or her characters' emotions. However, this story relies too much on communication breakdown, wrong jumps to conclusions, and ridiculously cartoonish bad exes to make the story as long as it is. I generally sympathize with Shana and her turbulent emotions at the start of the story when she confronts the fact that her marriage is beyond repair are heartbreaking to follow.
But as the story progresses, she starts jumping to conclusions and refusing to listen to Kyle, causing the story to plunge in big misunderstanding territory. I am not saying that it is unrealistic for Shana to behave in this manner, especially so soon after the unpleasant ending of her marriage. However, Ms Wootson could have at least introduce such conflicts in a more reasonable and less contrived manner. Shana's refusal to listen and her continuous unwillingness to see the obvious make her come off like a silly and unreasonable mule. Kyle is underdeveloped as a character - I have no idea what makes him tick. He's just a rather wooden example of a typical hunk who's had a nasty ex-wife.
I am willing to give this book plenty of chances but ultimately, Ms Wootson relies on one too many tired and increasingly unreasonable communication breakdown issues between her characters to prolong the story. Shana especially becomes more and more of a very obvious plot device to keep the story going as I turn the pages. Ready To Take A Chance is too much of a contrived tale of prolonged suspicions and misunderstanding for its own good.
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