3 out of 4 stars
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Callie and Chase have been married for twenty-five years. They live in an affluent town in Virginia near Washington, D.C. Chase is a successful political campaign advisor, and his job requires a lot of travel. Meanwhile, Callie has been busy raising their three children, the youngest of whom just left for college. Callie is becoming increasingly frustrated with Chase. Her world is transforming as she defines her life without the constant demands of their children, whereas Chase’s life remains unaffected. Callie’s days are suddenly empty, and Chase doesn’t seem to realize how this transition is affecting her.
They have a huge argument when Chase comes home on Friday of a holiday weekend and leaves hours later for a three-day golf getaway with the guys. This disagreement takes place at a precarious time: Callie’s friend Sandy calls shortly thereafter with news that Jason, Callie’s ex-fiancé, the one who left her explaining to would-be guests why their wedding was abruptly canceled six weeks before the date, is now single. Callie quickly denies any interest in seeing her old flame even if, according to his latest Facebook post, his newly renovated beach house is “Ready for Visitors. Anytime.”
Callie is unhappy with the current state of her marriage, and Jason is newly divorced. Callie has often thought about Jason since they broke up twenty-seven years ago. Is he happy? Has he changed over the years? What is she thinking! She is married (a vow she does not take lightly) and has three lovely children. Maybe she will ride by his beach house and spy from afar. Or perhaps she will just go to her mother’s house for the weekend and collect her thoughts. Such is the dilemma that the protagonist faces in Two Once Removed by Jeffrey Curry.
At 238 pages, this is a quick-paced character-based novel. It is classified as a romance, but if you are looking for a read with steamy erotic scenes, this is not the book for you. What attracted me to this novel was the life stage of the main characters. They are in their fifties and adjusting to life with children who are becoming adults.
Curry is wise to focus on only a few characters, and he develops them well. While I can relate to the fiftysomethings, my favorite character is Maya, Jason’s youngest daughter, who is a college sophomore. She has the exuberance of a twenty-year-old but the maturity that comes from living in a household with two parents that love you more than they love each other.
The author develops the characters from the inside out. The reader sees their values, hurts, pains, and fears. The reader also has space to create a mental image of the characters, as Curry provides minimal physical descriptions but focuses on their personalities and motives.
There was nothing I disliked about the story itself; unfortunately, there were many punctuation issues, particularly around hyphenation. Another round of editing will make this very good book even better.
I rate Two Once Removed 3 out of 4 stars. If not for the grammatical errors, I would have gladly rated it 4 stars. There is occasional swearing, but I did not find it offensive. On the contrary, it seems appropriate—or at least admissible—in most cases. I recommend this book to any adult who has ever wondered about a missed opportunity with “the one.” This read will especially appeal to empty nesters. There is one very mild erotic scene, but this book focuses more on emotional rather than physical intimacy.
Two Once Removed
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