REVIEW: Right Before Your Eyes by Ellen Shanman
Dear Ms. Shanman,
You seem to enjoy writing tough, smart mouthed heroines who don’t seem to know when the right man is just under their noses. I actually read your next book, “Everything Nice” first and backtracked to this one. Liza is not as masculine acting as Mike but she also has her moments of pushing away The One and nearly losing him. She’s also got life lessons to learn as well as lessons about herself.
Outspoken playwright Liza Weiler left Yale with everything she thought she needed to make her mark on the New York stage. So why, nearly a decade later, is she still waiting for her “real” life to finally begin? But like any great drama, Liza’s life only needs one good twist. And that’s what happens when she turns her ankle on the way out of a downtown nightspot and falls into the arms of a suspiciously gallant Wall Street prince and a practically perfect ER doc. Suddenly Liza not only has a couple of men in her life, but her play has fallen into the hands of a uber-hip theater director. Now Liza’s about to discover how much mess she can make of a seemingly good thing … and how terrifying, slightly tragic, and utterly hilarious a little success can be.
As I read the story, I got an image in my mind of a smart, acerbic young woman in NYC with a deadpan sense of humor. Liza can’t help but let her frustration at being a Yalie who’s forced to temp for rent money while her playrighting career goes nowhere. I like the foils you’ve created for her in the characters of her college friends Jeremy, thank God *not* the Gay best friend, and Parrot, the daughter of a man who might be a Mafioso but who is fiercely devoted to Liza.
And then there’re are the men in Liza’s life. Dr. Tim who honestly seems like he came straight from a box at Walmart marked, “The Perfect Man” and George, whose box would say, “The Asshole.” All through Liza and Tim’s dating sequence, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it did, I was happy that you hadn’t turned Tim into some kind of monster in order to move him off of center stage and make room for the man who is obviously meant to partner Liza through life.
Because it’s also pretty obvious, as in any good RomCom, who the main couple is meant to be. And just as obvious that after blissfully getting together for a while, they’ll have to hit the act during which they break up and suffer before finally getting their HEA and fade to credits. Now, would the driving force behind the breakup and makeup make sense or would it ruin the book for me?
The breakup actually worked for me. You’d laid the groundwork and the dividing factor seemed to flow from the characters you’d created. Everyone has their vulnerable spots and people in love have even more of them. So far, so good. The misery each feels afterwards also seems realistic and heartfelt. The makeup, hmmm. It just seemed a little sudden and too conveniently timed for me. The epilogue wraps things up nicely but I just never quite felt I caught onto what brought George back into Liza’s life.
After all is said and written, I enjoyed the humor, I enjoyed Liza and George’s Meet Cutes, I liked the secondary characters but the resolution of the romance didn’t give me the emotional payoff and Feel Good feeling I was looking and hoping to get. B-