REVIEW: King & Queen of the Bowling Alley (King & Queen series Book 3) by Diane Michaels
Dependable. Predictable. Funny. These traits topped the list of charms Lila had found in her bowling partner, Bruce. Like a ball on a well-oiled lane, their romance rolled toward its happily-ever-after. Too bad Bruce’s best qualities ripened like a pair of overused bowling shoes.
Bruce will go to any length to save their marriage. And Lila is eager to go along with his plan. Through a series of odd, silly, and sometimes terrifying dates, they’re on track to rekindle their missing spark.
Until everything goes wrong. Re-examining the reasons they fell in love may not be enough to fix this mess. Is there one unpredictable grand gesture left that can help them find the reset button?
Dear Ms. Michaels,
When I read who the main characters were to be and what the novella would focus on, frankly I was a bit shocked. But also intrigued. Bruce and Lila had been portrayed in “King and Queen of the Bouncy Castle” as devoted parents and happily married. Now here they were, experiencing a separation. What happened?
As they watched a brother and best friend fall in love, Lila and Bruce seem to be a happily married couple living the dream with a nice house, money, and a set of adorable and not plot moppet twins. But there are shoals here and rocks hidden under the water. We join their story again when Lila has asked Bruce to leave their house and he’s been back living at his parent’s house for about three months. The custody and family dinner times have been worked out but they haven’t taken the step of contacting lawyers yet.
Lila was the person who was instrumental in starting this and Bruce is still bewildered at the reason she gave; he didn’t help out enough around the house and left her to deal with the tough stuff? Why didn’t she tell him earlier so he could work on it? Honestly I wondered this, too. He’s tried not to push or argue but made it plain to Lila that he wants their marriage and their family back.
When he talks to their new babysitter Tess, she gives him some advice and the “go-to” device she uses: plan a bizarre first date that puts both people out of their comfort zone and see what happens. The losers quickly bail but if someone sticks it out and comes back for a second date – they might be a winner. The first effort fizzles due to weather – neither Bruce nor Lila seem too upset about missing going skydiving and plummeting towards earth screaming – but the second date opens things up and reminds them how much they care for each other.
But will this be enough when Lila’s attempt to see if what sets her off about her marriage is still there? Is living with Bruce, faults and all, better than living without him?
This series is making me pay attention. Though the stories are novella length, some tough issues are tackled and ultimately dealt with in each. Here is a seemingly happy marriage that has some rough edges that have never been acknowledged and smoothed down. Over the years, actions have become habits and lessons learned aren’t questioned. Bruce is a by-the-numbers, if-it-works-don’t-change kind of guy. He comes by it honestly given his family is that way but it’s letting him down now.
However, Lila isn’t scot-free from blame either. She thinks she’s got things figured out and has zeroed in on what is tearing her marriage apart. It isn’t until Bruce utters a fateful sentence that she begins to examine her role in what’s driven them apart. A few days of close soul searching and rerunning clashes of the past horrifies her.
As with the other stories, I like that these characters aren’t perfect. They make mistakes; they sometimes don’t communicate even if they think they are. They’re real and the pain, anger, and confusion they experience only makes them more so to me. The ending has me believing that Bruce and Lila are on the road to recovery but a HEA isn’t forced on them at the last minute. They realize they want to get together and I think they will. And there’s also the unfinished bit of Bruce’s job to see worked out. I can’t wait for the next installment when it looks as if Tess’s broken leg will be healed and she’ll be planning another of her infamous first dates. B