Megan Hart fangirl. I love how she takes the concept of "women's fiction," blends in romance and erotica, and spits out a product that is distinctly her own. I have loved many of her books. I have squee'd from the mountaintops about many of her books. So reading a new Hart story is always something I look forward to, something to savor. Her latest novel, Flying is, sadly, the first of her books that really hasn't worked well for me.
Stella's ex-husband is the CEO of an airline and as part of the divorce settlement she flies for free. Her son now a teenager, she spends some of her weekends "flying" - code for hopping on a short commuter flight to a nearby city and picking up a stranger to have anonymous sex with. Sometimes she meets these guys on the plane, sometimes in an airport bar.
That's pretty much the entire gist of the plot. Things move slowly, with Hart giving readers a good long look at Stella's character, although her motivations behind her "flying" remain too shadowy for me to get a real grasp on her psyche. Eventually what happens is that Stella meets "the one" and they begin a complicated relationship - complicated because he has baggage and lives in a city hundreds of miles away.
Hart has that ability to create wounded characters and make you bleed for them. I did get that with Stella, most of it revolving around her relationship with her son, but she remains too distant for me to care deeply for her one way or another. The other big issue is the ending. While I have a hard time slapping a traditional "romance" label on Hart, she does write "happy" ending - albeit not always in the traditional sense. They're "happy endings" in the respect that I always feel like her characters are in a better place at the end of the story than they were at the beginning.
That's the sticking point here: I don't think Stella is in a "better place" at the end of this story. I think she's settling. I think she's spending time with someone who will never be able to, for a variety of reasons, put her first in anything. I think Stella, while putting up a bit of a fuss, will ultimately find herself having to compromise over and over again without her "partner" meeting her halfway. There's not enough in the final chapters to convince me otherwise. Yeah, he makes somewhat of a gesture towards halfway, but there's not enough of his blood on the page to make me feel good about the direction Stella's personal life is headed. I just see a lot of hassle in her future, and certainly while hassle is a part of "real life?" She should have a partner who will carry his own weight, and this guy? Not seeing it. Sorry. I'm just not.
If you've never read Hart before and have been curious to try her, this is not the book I would recommend you start with. If you're already a Hart fangirl, I do think this story is worth reading on some levels, certainly for the mother/son dynamic alone. The trademark gut-punching angst is still there, just not the payoff I've come to expect.
Final Grade = C