2008 TBR Challenge #5
Quinn Mackenzie has an unexciting life, teaching high school art classes then going home to school sports coach Bill Hilliard, who’s a lovely man even if he is fond of beige. Her chance at a change arrives in the form of a skinny stray dog that she wants to keep. For Bill, however, it’s loathing at first sight, and when he gives her an ultimatum Quinn chooses the dog. Her desire for something new proves to be catching. Her best friend Darla decides she wants more excitement in her life, but can’t convince her husband Max that things aren’t fine as they are. Max’s brother Nick’s quiet lifestyle is being disrupted by the need to get between Quinn and an increasingly divorced-from-reality Bill; not that he minds too much, as he wants to help his best friend. Actually, he wants his best friend, even if she is his ex-wife’s sister. Bill’s coaching performance has taken a nosedive, so the sports-obsessed principal isn’t happy; nor is he pleased when one of his teachers comes out of the closet - along with Quinn’s mother. Sanity has to return sooner or later - doesn’t it?
Second time around this is just as funny as the first. Ordinary people living ordinary lives can seem hugely entertaining in the right hands. The characters are just quirky enough, and Bill and the Boy Principal make a suitably unpleasant combination. Bill is all the more unnerving because he seems like such a nice guy, loved by the whole town, and the situation Quinn finds herself in is just so possible for anyone. I really wanted to see Quinn and dog get a happy ending - and for Quinn to realise that the real Mr Right had been under her nose all along - but it has to be said that she could almost be the poster girl for what not to do when faced with a stalker. I couldn’t help thinking, Sure, he was a nice guy - emphasis on was, as in past tense, but just CALL THE COPS! But it was still a great read. The chemistry between Quinn and Nick practically crackles off the page (though stylistically a few more full stops wouldn’t have hurt); and after their years of friendship it’s easy to see them settling happily down complete with neurotic dog.