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Monday, March 28, 2016

3/5 Review: The Sweetheart Deal by Polly Dugan

Leo has long joked that, in the event of his death, he wants his best friend Garrett, a lifelong bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken night, he goes so far as to make Garrett promise to do so. Then, twelve years later, Leo, a veteran firefighter, dies in a skiing accident.

As Audrey navigates her new role as widow and single parent, Garrett quits his job in Boston and buys a one-way ticket out west. Before long, Audrey's feelings for Garrett become more than platonic, and Garrett finds himself falling for Audrey, her boys, and their life together in Portland. When Audrey finds out about the drunken pact from years ago, though, the harmless promise that brought Garrett into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.


I honestly didn't know what to rate this book. It was so beautifully rendered in places and had so much truth in parts that I feel like it deserved four or five stars. But in the end I felt Dugan kept us at a distance from the characters and I wasn't emotionally invested in any of them. They were each so miserable in their own way that it gave me no chance to learn to like them. Dugan’s depiction of grief was pretty powerful, especially from Audrey’s perspective and the heartbreaking scene with Audrey unable to even get dressed shows me what this book could have been and what the characters could have meant to me. But in the end, I didn't care if these characters lived or died, were miserable or happy. This book was like looking at a piece of black and white abstract art. I thought it was beautiful and can understand why people like it, perhaps even love it, but I wouldn't want it hanging in my house. I just couldn't make friends with this book. That being said, I would be willing to give Dugan another try in a heartbeat. So for me the book was just okay.

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