by Linda Winfree, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-598-5
In His Ordinary Life, Barbara and Delbert Calvert are still in love with each other but they are this close to signing the dotted lines on the divorce papers due to all kinds of reasons, most of them related to Del's lifelong ambition to be the new martyr for who knows what reason. It is when their sixteen-year old son Blake start running wild and going out of control that Barbara is finally forced to swallow her pride and call Del, thus forcing him to reluctantly leave his pity party for one to come over and help her deal with their kid. Perhaps it is time for some much needed family counseling for this unhappy family, no?
It takes two to cause a marriage to fall apart in situations such as this one when the two people involved are deeply in love, but Del was already hankering to be a martyr even before the cracks started to show. He beats himself up for "ruining" Barbara's life by knocking her up and marrying her at a young age, thus causing her to drop her plans to attend college. He also feels guilty over his brother's death that occurred in his teens so he has plenty of issues to go around. So during a misunderstanding that escalated into an argument, he decided that he shouldn't have married her and walked out on her and their three children. And he doesn't write or call, instead wallowing in self-pity and telling himself how much he loves her.
As for Barbara, she lacks the dramatic traumatic events in her life but she is actually a more complicated character than Del. It's hard to define her character in broad strokes. She has been drummed in her early years to rely on other people, for example, and she is still trying to find her way into becoming her own person. She loves Del but she is very hurt by Del's abandonment of her and her family so he has to work considerably to earn back her trust.
His Ordinary Life has plenty of realistic emotional upheavals and poignant character development, which is what a good romantic drama should have in spades. This one isn't always easy to read due to Ms Winfree exposing her characters' most vulnerable moments to the reader in a pretty realistic manner. There is a suspense subplot late in the story that provides the obligatory dramatic denouement, although I personally feel that this subplot doesn't add much to the story. There is already plenty of drama to go around.
All in all, this is a pretty well-written romantic drama with some suspense but mostly plenty of internal turmoil and emotional upheavals. Fans of such stories may enjoy this one. I know I did.
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