I adored Time Off For Good Behavior, and had been really excited about reading Maybe Baby (formerly known as "Flipping the Bird," except Wal-Mart would never allow such a title) ever since I heard about it being written.
I am really sorry to say that I don't have so much love for this one. I'm giving it a three stars because I like the author, but if I hadn't read any of her writing before, I don't think it would get as high. It's quite different (less deep, if you will) than TOFGB, which was surprising to me somehow. I don't know why.
There's two main elements to this book:
(a) a couple that split up six years ago because the girl was afraid of getting married, but they still love each other,
The second aspect of the plot is more fun, and I couldn't help but think through the whole thing, "Dude, this so should be a movie, because it's totally movie caper plot." To make an attempt at explaining it, the heroine's mother does "favors" for rich people, and one woman's asked her to steal and get rid of her dead father-in-law's parrot. Only (a) someone else steals it first, and (b) the dead father-in-law turns out to have left his entire fortune to the parrot. And thus, a whole lot of bird-snatching goes on! Whee!
And you have to give Lani props for picking out such a great character of a bird. Honestly, it even SOUNDS like it's fictional, but it's not! Reading this is a real hoot:
"A closer encounter will reveal another surprise - the thick, musty kakapo smell. The smell is so strong and distinctive that it betrays the presence of the bird to dogs, cats and other predators from a great distance, and was a primary cause of its rapid decline.
Once you get used to the smell, most people become captivated by the un-birdlike behaviour of the bird. Its waddling gait, its curiosity, wide range of calls, and its comic antics meant that, in historic times, the kakapo was occasionally kept as a pet by early settlers."
Yes, she certainly worked with those traits very well! And as for the others, the mother and the friendly bird thief are lots of fun.
Alas, it's the love story that lowers the point value on this one. Because, well... when you hit the point where you just want to SMACK the hero, who you are supposed to be rooting for and wanting to get together with the heroine, it's a "you had me and you lost me." I know, I know, I'm supposed to forgive him for making stupid mistakes and whatnot, but about 3/4 of the way through the book, he did a few things that made me want to well...smack him. (Discussion of what that was will be below the cut.) I didn't even want him to get back together with her any more after that, even though it was very obvious they would, and frankly, it was a stretch that they'd even been split up for six years. It wasn't even that he was a permajerk or anything, but...okay, that's something to get into in the spoiler section. But unfortunately, when you hit the point of wanting to smack someone in the book that you're not supposed to want to smack, it just plain lowers your enjoyment of the thing.
I'm sorry. I wanted to give this a higher review, by far.
Spoiler section commences.
Okay. So, let's say that your girl is afraid of marriage. So afraid that she runs out on your wedding day. Let's say that she tried to tell you this stuff when she woke up afraid in the middle of the night, but you blew it off/didn't take it very seriously/whatever. Let's say that for SIX LONG YEARS you've wished you'd paid more attention to relieving her fears.
So, six years later, you get the chance to be with her again. What would you do?
If you answered, "Why, pressure her into getting engaged to me again, and whine at her that she doesn't trust me, and give her an ultimatum to say that she has to agree to marry me NOW or else lose me, even though she just admitted she still loves me and trusts me, it's just the fear of marriage thing," you deserve a smacking.
Sure, he regrets it afterwards, but still! STOOPID! JERKY! STOP THAT! If he was a nice man, he'd let her get used to the idea first. Not insist on marriage Right Freaking Now, but try to calm her fears. Maybe have a long engagement, or get "engaged to be engaged", or just plain oh, START DATING EACH OTHER AGAIN AFTER SIX YEARS, 'CAUSE THAT'S A LONG FREAKING TIME AND YOU REALLY SHOULD GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AGAIN. That would be by far more practical and less assy.
(And might I just say that six years? Does not seem right for this story. Maybe a year split up, yes, I'd buy that, but wouldn't you be a totally different person after six years? Nobody sane is gonna get engaged to someone they haven't spoken to for six years, assuming it's the same person and nothing's changed.)
Even more fun, the heroine (Dana) makes it very clear that a dealbreaker for her is Nick (the hero) hanging around with Melanie (Dana's worst enemy, who's been trying to take Dana's man and winery for ages). Which is rather understandable. Especially since Dana is under the impression that Nick slept with Melanie on the night of their failed wedding, and Nick (as far as I can recall having just read it) never bothers to let her know otherwise. Plus Dana knows he's been associating with her, as he had previously agreed to take a job with her in California.
So a short while later, when Melanie's offered a deal that she'll give Dana the money for her winery if Nick comes to work for her, and Nick says yes, Nick seems to think Dana won't get upset by it. And he's all "What, do you not trust me?" and she's all, "Excuse me, aren't you going to make a deal with my worst enemy RIGHT NOW? Um, NO, I don't!" and he gets all pouty bitch about it.
Buddy, I repeat: (a) Dealing with her worst enemy is a dealbreaker for her, and (b) what are you doing right now, and (c) should she trust you? Um, no, 'cause you're giving her good reason NOT TO.
Gah. Nick needs a smacking.