Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Digital Review: Tanya

I enjoy reading Rebecca Rogers Maher for a lot of reasons but the big two are: 1) she writes well "short" and 2) she slathers on the angst.  I'm an angst junkie and I like novellas.  This is a marriage made in heaven, truly.  Tanya is a follow-up to The Bridge, which was one of my favorite reads of 2013.  Tanya is what I've lovingly begun calling "the drunk sister's story."  The heroine from The Bridge?  Tanya would be her sister, who was largely missing in action in the previous story thanks to her alcohol problem.  Well now Tanya is back in Christa's life, just in time for her wedding, and wouldn't you know it?  Tanya makes a mess of it by having hot, sweaty, anonymous sex with Christa's future brother-in-law.  Oops.

Tanya is in recovery, having been off the booze for two years.  That doesn't mean she's living entirely sober however.  She's taken to anonymous pick-ups, and on the eve of her sister's wedding she finds herself in a bar sizing up a guy who cannot seem to sit still.  She propositions him, a good time is had by both, and it's not until the very next day at the ritzy mountain lodge where her sister is getting married that Tanya meets Jack, future brother-in-law, and giver of amazing orgasms.

Jack can hardly believe his luck.  Home from the Peace Corps, at loose ends, he's attending his brother's wedding when he meets a captivating woman.  He's floored by Tanya's boldness and wants more, but naturally she scurries off before he can coax a name out of her.  Finding out she's his future sister-in-law's sister?  He's not going to let the opportunity go to waste.  Now he just has to convince her to stop running scared.

Stories should stand on their own and I dislike critiquing one read based off a former one, but darn if that's not what I'm going to do here.  Tanya is good.  It's very good.  But I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed that it didn't give me that same emotional heft of The Bridge.  I think part of the problem is that this story is tied directly to the previous romantic couple.  I was so intrigued by Christa and Henry, was even happy to see them here, but having them on page did detract a bit, for me, from the new romance - Tanya and Jack.

Also, while I found The Bridge to be wonderfully self-contained and perfect for a novella, with Tanya I just wanted more.  I wanted more exploration of Tanya's self-destructive, sabotaging tendencies.  Great, she's not drinking anymore - but these random sex pick-ups she's doing smack of trading one addiction for another.  I "get" why she does it, but does she "get" why she does it?  That's the question.  I also wanted more of why Jack felt the need to avoid, running away to the Peace Corps, and his guilt over Henry's depression and suicide attempts.  More angst, more blood on the page, more, more, more.  As it is?  I felt like the surface gets scratched, we get some emotional sex scenes - but it never quite came together as a whole meal for me.

Which sounds like I'm not being fair to this story.  Maybe I'm not.  But hey, this is still a really strong read.  Maher as a way to writing highly damaged characters and somehow making me believe in the happy ending.  Tanya and Jack are far from perfect, but I think they'll be OK.  Likewise, while both Christa and Henry tried to kill themselves?  I totally bought into the idea they'd be getting married and would be able to build a life together. 

So really, the author has done her job.  Hey, that works for me.

Final Grade = B-

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