Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-19796-4
Contemporary Romance, 2004
Chances Are is an actual sequel to Shore Lights. Which is to say, the same characters that starred in Shore Lights star also in Chances Are. If you haven’t read the previous book but intend to one of these days, it’s best to stop reading now because there may be some spoilers to that book present in this review.
Maddy Bainbridge and Aiden O’Malley fell in love in Shore Lights and now they are making plans to marry. But as family and friends descend onto Paradise Point for the big day, secrets are ripped open from the closets of the ensemble cast. Adultery (not involving either Maddy or Aiden, don’t worry), mother issues, daddy issues, runaway delinquents, and sister issues are some of the many reasons for the cast of the story to bicker and quarrel. The most shocking secret may very well come from Kelly, Aiden’s teenage daughter.
None of conflicts in this book will be a surprise to long-time readers of women’s fiction. Maybe I’m just jaded but I also wonder why the author feels that she has to write this book. I don’t really see any character growth here, just plenty of people being bitter and loudly quarrelsome, and I’m not keen on the previously well-adjusted Kelly turning into a troubled bratty teen here for the sake of drama. Claire, who is bitter because her late husband (Aiden’s brother) cheated on her with her future sister-in-law’s cousin while feeling jealous because Maddy is becoming closer to Aiden’s children (whom Claire has played mommy to previously), will most likely have her own book in the future as she has the strongest story arc in this book. However, Aiden and Gillian are still not married by the last page and too many characters in this book experience little to no growth.
Thus Chances Are delivers very little as a romance novel except as a reminder that life can still suck when we’re getting ready to marry our loved one. Maybe we should just banish the troublesome teens to some monastery in Ireland, the mothers to an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, and the sisters to Siberia before we tie the knot and have happy whoopees on the sheets of the bed in the five-star Marriott suite of our dreams. After all, take it from Ms Bretton – why take chances?