Dear Ms. Ford,
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a nice, gentle story to cuddle up with. A story that features good people who act sensibly without throwing snits over Big Misunderstandings. A story about families who get along. A story set in small town America but one which doesn’t denigrate big cities. Or have characters who all have double first names. “Her Best Bet” fits all them all.
Izzy Gordon faces the fact that in the ten years since she graduated from high school, she’s let go of her major dream. But is it too late for her to break from the perfect life her parents have mapped out for her and reclaim her goal to direct movies? With the help of her room mate, she decides to shoot a documentary for a contest and what better place then at a lake resort in Wisconsin which her parents own. Well, they don’t own the buildings, just the land, and the 100 year lease is ending soon.
Gib Murphy’s family has run the White Bear Lodge for almost 100 years but changes are coming fast. The place has gotten run down and his grandparents look a little frayed at the edges too. 10 years ago, Gib followed his dream to a career in photojournalism and, even after the tragedy that struck friends in Iraq, has no interest in staying on to manage the place. When Izzy and her friend arrive, he sees the place in a new light while she helps him cope with the nightmares that steal his sleep. But what will happen when her true identity is revealed? And is this the end of the Murphy family at the resort?
The main theme of the book seems to be discovering what our dreams really are versus what we think or imagine they are. And then how to deal with them when they collide head on with reality. Izzy thinks she wants to be a film maker but discovers there are other ways to do that than in Hollywood. Gib thought he always wanted to get away from the quiet of the Wisconsin backwoods only to find that peace and quiet take on new meanings after the road side bomb explosions of Iraq. I like that both are open to their dreams changing without putting up angsty fusses.
Izzy’s room mate, Shelly, stands in for Izzy’s non-present family. Their good natured teasing and mutual support are a relief after so many books with bitchy female relationships. Shelly’s Nature Bonding Ritual is a hoot. The Murphy family make the perfect hosts for the resort. Cheerful, helpful, ready to work around a crisis and forgiving of each other. I just wish they’d come right out and tell each other what they really want to do about the resort. The goal here kept changing so much I honestly didn’t want to hazard a guess as to how it would be resolved.
I like that you worked in the current real estate financial situation into the plot but didn’t make it a total downer. As well, no giant corporation is hauled in to be the villain of the story. And when the truth about Izzy comes to light, Gib is hurt but willing to listen to and understanding of why she did what she did. I was fully expecting pouting and stomping of feet from him and relieved when it doesn’t happen.
Oh and before I forget, the fishing scene with Izzy and Gib when they do nothing but laze in silence and contented company is a winner. No forced slick moves, no attempts at being witty just comfortable, warm hours spent relaxing. I also enjoyed when Izzy helps Gib relax and sleep during the storm. I kept waiting and expecting tons of sex but you did something better. Yeah, there is eventual sex but the early scenes are Izzy and Gib getting comfortable with each other so when the sex arrives, I feel these two are ready for emotional as well as physical intimacy.
Gib doesn’t drown in angst though he probably deserves to. Again I could feel the connection between him and Izzy as she gently questions him about what happened then helps him realize he can and should move forward and do what it is he wants to. And oh the bliss of not being drowned in mental lusting. Shelly and Izzy delight in secretly calling Gib “Beautiful Boy,” but no one stands like a statue drooling over the thought of the other.
“Her Best Bet” is like slowly swinging in a hammock, lazing away the afternoon. The neat way you wrap up the story that takes into account what Gib and Izzy both want is a treat. No one loses and everyone seems to get what they want. Win-win. B