Booking it Across the US | Ohio and Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

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August 9, 2013 by Heidi

Booking it Across the US

Welcome to Ohio!  Did you know that Ohio is the only state whose name doesn’t share any letters with the word mackerel?  Bet you didn’t.  Bet your life feels more complete now.  It’s also the only state on this here little tour that I’d never read a book for before!  Which means I was really flying blind, but I came out okay in the end.

Ohio Reads

Personal favorite? Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie.
What’s your favorite Ohio book?

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Maybe This Time by Jennifer CrusieTitle: Maybe This Time [Goodreads]
Author: Jennifer Crusie [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Standing: Stand alone.
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Retelling
Published: August 31st, 2010 by Brilliance Audio
Format: Audiobook; 10 hrs, 58 min.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Andie Miller is ready to move on in life. She wants to marry her fiancé and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her before they go their separate ways forever. A very distant cousin of his has died and left North as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything.

When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiancé thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right. Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting.

What follows is a hilarious adventure in exorcism, including a self-doubting parapsychologist, an annoyed medium, her Tarot-card reading mother, an avenging ex-mother-in-law, and, of course, her jealous fiancé. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get more complicated, North shows up on the doorstep making her wonder if maybe this time things could be different between them.

If Andie can just get rid of all the guests and ghosts, she’s pretty sure she can save the kids, and herself, from the past. But fate might just have another thing in mind….

For a good long while now friends (and perfect strangers for that matter) have been pointing me toward Jennifer Crusie when I’ve bemoaned my inability to find a contemporary romance author I enjoy.  While readers resoundingly recommend Bet Me, which I very much still intend to read, I was happy to stumble across Crusie’s off-beat retelling of the classic Gothic, The Turn of the Screw, when searching for the perfect Ohio read to whet my appetite.  Admittedly, not having read the original I can’t much comment on Maybe This Time‘s success as a retelling, but from what I know of the tale, I’m going to say she did a bang up job!

Maybe This Time, like almost every romance, is a story you begin knowing the ending.  Obviously the previously married Andie and North will find a way back to each other despite ten years separation with no communication.  But as with almost every romance, it’s not about where it’s going, it’s about how much fun you have getting there.  Cue a more impertinent and ghostly version of The Parent Trap.  How else can you get that emotionally unavailable workaholic and that practical free-spirit together?

Andie sold me on herself not only because she was practical, caring, and a damn fine baker of banana bread (one of my favorites), but because she is really resistant to the whole ghost concept.  In fact, she’s more willing to admit that her current relationship is more about safety than love and that she never got over her ex-husband than she is that the house she’s living in is haunted.  As Maybe This Time moves forward, it becomes clear that the kids Andie has been sent to ‘fix’ have more going on in their lives than a serious case of angst.  Still, Andie’s resistance to the paranormal is so realistic–probably more so than any other book I can currently think of.  Sometimes seeing is not believing.  It takes seeing repeatedly, full conversations, research, and some serious evaluation to believe.

North was a fine hero, and though I don’t believe we get an overwhelming feel for him through his limited point of view, I did love the impression we received of him through Andie’s eyes.  I loved that he really got her for who she was, and never tried to adapt her to his own world.  Plus, I loved the rest of the cast.  Carter who always looked out for his little sister, Alice, Southy who really just wanted to get laid, the mediums, the scientists, the crazy ghosts, the mothers, heck, even the reporter was entertaining…

And then, Maybe This Time becomes an absolute farcical tale with clashing personalities, scandals, exploitation, a few good laughs, and a few good chills.  I loved that it was so much more than a romance.  More than anything, this story was about the kids and Andie bonding with them, bringing them out of their shells and giving them someone to lean on.  It was about hearts finding one another and fitting together in ways that make one whole–make you a family.

In one relatively quick listen, Jennifer Crusie managed to impart some serious chills, swoons, and laughs, and that adds up to a pretty impressive start to our author-reader relationship.  The narrator, Angela Dawe, took some getting used to for me, but she did win me over in the end and I would recommend this one on audio.  My one complaint is that the character of Alice seemed significantly younger than she was actually supposed to be (5-6 rather than around 9), but I suppose one could argue that her social development was lacking enough to explain away her actions.  While there wasn’t an overwhelming sense of ‘Ohio’ in the setting, I do think that those familiar with Columbus might find some familiarity, and Crusie did manage to breath some life into the Gothic house that became the setting for the crux of our tale.

Also, this book takes place in 1992, because…and that makes me happy.

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4 comments »

  1. I recently listened to this one on audio and loved it! I didn’t get an overwhelming sense of Ohio either – and this is the only book I’ve read that is set in Ohio – but I adored the characters, the plot, and the romance. North totally won me over and the tension in the beginning of the novel was heart-breaking, but so perfect for the book as well. Fantastic review, Heidi!(:

  2. Okay, first of all, I’m sorry I’ve been absent from your blog lately. I’m TRYING SO HARD to keep up with the summer. But I’m here now! A little list about this one:

    1. I have yet to read a Crusie but I have Bet Me on my shelves because I found it at Goodwill. I’ll get around to it but I’m open to other Crusie’s.

    2. Angela Dawe as reader – she read for the Chaos Walking series and I agree, she does take a little bit of getting used to, but after a little while I got used to her enough that I was okay (although I will admit to speeding up her part since it was on audible and I could do that, and slowing down Nick Podehl and MacLeod Andrews because, well, obviously).

    3. From your line of books up above, I’ve read Flat Out Love and I loved it! And I’ve read the first Night Huntress book, although I never went any further – not that I didn’t like it, I just haven’t gotten around to it.

    This is fun. (:

  3. Angie says:

    Harooyah!

    I love this book and nobody’s read it. So I’m thrilled you did.

    And okay, I will just go ahead and admit that “Somebody’s Baby” has become one of my favorite songs as a result of reading this book.

  4. JENNIFER CRUSIE IS THE BEST. Bet Me is pretty great, but I also love Fast Women and Welcome to Temptation. Almost all of them are a lot of fun, though I’ll admit I’m not as big of a fan of her newer stuff.

    It’s definitely her silliness that makes her romances so great. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is fantastic, because, hello, it’s romance…it doesn’t need to be dramatic.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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