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REVIEW: Sasha’s Dad by Geri Krotow

Sasha's Dad by Geri KrotowDear Ms. Krotow:

Sometimes the stories about kids trying to get their single parents hooked up with another person can be cute (Parent Trap! Sleepless in Seattle!) and other times, it can be totally treacly.   This book was neither cute nor saccharine but instead made me want to scream and throw my ebook reader across the room.   Why?   Because the hero drove me insane and not in a good way.

Claire Renquist and Dutch Archer were high school sweethearts who found themselves drifting apart at the end of their high school days.   Claire wanted to go forth and conquer the world andDutch wanted to stay in their hometown, become a vet, get married and have kids.   One weekend while Claire   was on an academic trip, her best friend’s twin died. Dutch went over to comfort the sister, Natalie, and ended up having sex with her.   It’s unclear to me what exactly transpired after that night but Claire eventually moved away and Dutch and Natalie went to the local state college.   Claire maintained (or tried) to maintain a close relationship with Natalie and during her college years, Claire was able to keep up the pretense of being unaffected by Dutch and Natalie’ s relationship but when Dutch and Natalie announced their plans to get married followed closely by the birth of their daughter, Sasha, Claire could no longer bear the pain of seeing the happy family unit.   Even though Claire had found fulfillment in her job as a national news reporter, she had   never gotten over her love for Dutch.

Natalie fell ill and died but during her protacted illness, Claire   did not come back to visit.   Their relationship had been strained and Claire felt more comfortable in the battlefield of Iraq, reporting on wars and the fall of governments around the world until one day it became too much for her.   She packs everything up and returns to her hometown and begins a llama farm.

Natalie and Dutch’s daughter, Sasha, takes an interest in Claire and Claire sees this as a way to repay her deceased friend.   Sasha begins coming over to the llama farm and Claire shares stories of her and Sasha’s mom when they were kids.   Sasha absorbs each word like its a grain of gold.

This causes a great deal of concern for Dutch. His view of Claire has been negative ever since she decided she wanted something bigger than their hometown could offer.   He characterizes her as a “leaver” and doesn’t want her around Sasha. At this point, Claire has been living in the hometown for 2 years and owns a fricking llama farm but because she left him when they were teens, she was still a leaver.   She left him physically and she left him emotionally.   She was in the wrong and only until she acknowledged it would they ever be able to move beyond the past.

Plus, she is emotionally unavailable.   She wouldn’t come back and visit Natalie even when she was sick. Some kind of friend, he thinks.   Sasha, he, and Natalie all needed Claire but   she was never there.   Claire is selfish and self centered.

I wanted to reach into the book to choke him.   Never once did he acknowledge that his emotional and physical betrayal was simply too much for Claire.   That maybe, just maybe, Claire felt supremely uncomfortable around his perfect family unit that clearly excluded her in a very tangible way.  He expected her to come crawling back to him.   She was the bad person for not abasing herself enough.

I kept waiting for that moment wherein the hero would have a moment of self enlightenment and say “self, I’ve been a real asshole” and then go and grovel.   One moment where he would acknowledge that he felt physical and emotional need for this woman and maybe that was why he was was so angry.   Instead, the hero maintained his myopic self righteous view of the world to the very end.   He realizes that she is no longer a leaver and that she is good for him and his daughter because SHE HAS CHANGED.   That’s right.   Dutch’s storyline is flat.   He never changes because he doesn’t have to.   Claire comes to him.

What makes Dutch’s egoism even more unbearable is the careful introspection that Claire undertakes.   Older, wiser, Claire looks back and realizes that she left the door open for Dutch and Natalie to come together because Claire was pulling away.   She regrets the rift that she allowed to develop between herself and Natalie.   She wishes that she had been more honest with Natalie about the depths of Claire’s feeling for Dutch.   She treasures the moments with Sasha, a precious combination of the two people that she has loved most in this world.   Most of all, Claire finds contentment.   She has changed and has become, in her mind, a better, happier person.

The juxtaposition between Claire’s self actualization and Dutch’s shameless and selfish embrace of his  narcissism  made Dutch all the more unbearable. If I could have kicked him in the nuts, I would have.   It was one of those books where you wished that something bad would happen to one of the protagonists. Like I wished that you would have killed him off and Claire and Sasha would have found someone else to be part of their family unit.   C-

Best regards

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. AmyW
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 13:17:41

    I must say I don’t think I could get past cheating with the best friend. Ouch.

    ReplyReply

  2. lazaraspaste
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 13:36:35

    If I could have kicked him in the nuts, I would have. It was one of those books where you wished that something bad would happen to one of the protagonists. Like I wished that you would have killed him off and Claire and Sasha would have found someone else to be part of their family unit.

    This made me laugh so hard that people around me wanted to know what I was snorting at. I have had this exact reaction to characters. I wanted them to be real people so I could hunt them down and physically hurt them.

    This is such a common mistake in romance. Having one character do the bulk of the changing and growing while the other character does neither, seems such an odd mistake to make when the central focus of the story is on the relationship. But I see it all the time, if not always in such an extreme.

    ReplyReply

  3. Joanne
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 14:14:43

    I wouldn’t have gotten passed llama farm. Llama farm? From war correspondent to llama farmer?

    There was a review a million years ago on AAR part of which always stayed with me. I’m afraid I don’t remember the reviewer or even the book being reviewed but it had to do with one more hero being an asshat “because he stubbed his toe when he was a teen”.

    Your Dutch sounds like one of these Jane. Thanks anyway for the review and the picture of an ereader flying through the air that gave me a grin.

    ReplyReply

  4. Kelly L.
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 16:10:08

    And he never, ever apologized to her for screwing her best friend? Yuck.

    ReplyReply

  5. Anon76
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 00:21:24

    I am sooooo not into romance books where one partner is all right, and the other is all wrong.

    If both hero/heroine don’t have character arcs, then one becomes the doormat.

    Blada Blada Blada. Yuck.

    ReplyReply

  6. Karen Hammond
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 00:45:25

    Llama farming, huh? I dunno–it just sounds like a cliche waiting to happen. I mean, I realize people actually DO become llama farmers, but … I dunno.

    Eloquence has failed me.

    ReplyReply

  7. sao
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 07:47:43

    It seems to me that C- is grade inflation. You’ve given the grade to books with less serious flaws than having a cheating hero who never figures out that his cheating had any effect on his relationship with the woman he cheated on.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jane
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 08:26:49

    @sao No, I gave the grade a C because the prose was very competent. The characterization of the hero, Dutch, was very flat and didn’t portray what the author intended (IMO) but the writing, construction of the plot and characterizations of the other players were well done.

    ReplyReply

  9. Ridley
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 10:30:51

    @Karen Hammond:

    Llama farmer works for me. As a big fan of sheep and wool festivals and fairs around NE and NY, I have noticed that the llama and alpaca farmers tend to be yuppies on a second career. Sheep farmers tend to be a bit more, I don’t know, “lifey” about it, like that’s just what they’ve always done and there’s nothing too interesting about it.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with being a born-again farmer. It’s just something I’ve noticed.

    ReplyReply

  10. Kim in Hawaii
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 12:14:58

    Your review caught my eye because Geri is a Navy vet and Navy spouse. While some components may not have been your cup of tea, I’m glad you enjoyed the prose. I look forward to reading this book because I admire Geri for balancing a writing career while supporting her husband’s career at the American Embassy in Moscow.

    She recently blogged about three milestones – A Birthday, A Book, and A Mammogram:

    http://www.gerikrotow.com/geristake/2010/06/a-birthday-a-book-and-a-mammogram/

    God bless Geri for her service to her country, her support of her husband’s service, and having to get a mammogram overseas!

    ReplyReply

  11. sao
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 13:53:16

    I’ve had a mammogram in Moscow. It’s not a big deal. My bet is that Geri went to some place like the American Medical Center and got her mammogram read by an American doctor and explained to her in English. My bet is the technician was Russian, but spoke adequate, if not excellent, English.

    She might have gone to the European Medical Center or US Health and had a similar experience, although in the EMC, the doctor would be French and speak English with a French accent.

    ReplyReply

  12. Ridley
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 14:23:11

    @sao:

    But everyone knows that every place outside the US is scary and backwards in its otherness.

    ReplyReply

  13. EP
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 10:39:43

    She handed a copy of one of her early books to President Obama. It’s in her blog. I thought that was very cool.

    re: the review of Sasha’s Dad
    I laughed out loud too at post #2.

    Oh my, I just hope that when my books get reviewed here that the heroes pass muster. I don’t much like books with a jerk for a hero. There has to be something redeeming or the TSTL heroes and heroines will just go down with the ship!

    ReplyReply

  14. sam
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 03:21:29

    Thanks for the review. I was compelled to comment because it mirrored my feelings so well. I too kept waiting for Dutch to realise that just like him, Claire too was a kid. If he could justify having sex with her best friend, she was surely entitled to dream of a life beyond what she knew! He seemed entirely too parochial and narrow-minded to me and incredibly self centered – then I realised – isn’t that what a small town vet whose life revolves only around farm animals and who has never stepped outside his comfort zone would be like? Claire has seen the world and is able to put her life in perspective because she has seen much more than he has and has made peace with her shortcomings and realised what her priorities are, while Dutch has always lived a very narrow existence defined only by himself, his family and his community. So I thought the characters were well represented. Of course, I still can’t see what Claire saw in him after all this time…he doesn’t seem like someone for the long haul to me.

    ReplyReply

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