And One Last Thing...by Molly Harper
~ Goodreads ~
Rating: 4.0 Stars
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this story. Contemporary Romance usually isn't my preferred genre and are typically fluff that (when written well) can give me little heartwarming nudges and smiles every so often. I read them mainly because I do like romances and I like them even more with a healthy dose of tasteful humor and a great set of characters to create those rare, less than mundane tellings--this is especially since a lot of Contemporaries that I've picked up tend to have the same formula.
And One Last Thing..., however, is probably more Chick Lit with emotional development focused solely on our main female character than it is a Romance. This was something I hadn't been expecting and something that made the story more inspiring than giddily heartwarming. Cute and breezy, oh so witty, and very well written, this book turned out quite entertaining--and caught me finishing it in one full sitting since I couldn't stop reading.
Lacey Terwilliger (soon to be Lacey Vernon) finds out that her husband is cheating on her because of a misdirected floral delivery that was supposed to go to her husband's receptionist, addressed to "Bumblebee" from "The Stinger" (insert your snortling euphemisms here). In fact, she drives out to her husbands accounting firm to confront, only to witness the two going at it in plain sight, for all the world to see.
And apparently, instead of lying down and taking it quietly like many of her community's First Estate wives seem to think she should be doing, she exacts revenge in the form of a very cleverly written newsletter sent via e-mail to all friends, family friends, and family members (which in turn gets shared with the whole world via YouTube, newspaper, and other forms of media).
And after that simple click of a button, Lacey's world begins to untangle in extremely public and ugly ways. Her husband and his mistress are suing her for slander and defamation of character, her mother-in-law is outraged that she is ruining their family and their reputation, news vans are parked outside her parents' home, people are either getting a nice snicker at her situation, or in disgust that she couldn't just take the adultery quietly, her mother (though supportive) is frustrated that she acted so rashly... her own father won't even speak to her anymore (very un-supportive).
It's like the messed up life of the Upper Echelons of society and according to Lacey's mother-in-law Wynnie, Lacey should have just let her husband Mike get away with the cheating so long as he came home each night (which is a moot point since he rarely came home, and when he was home, he was always on the phone). According to Wynnie, a cheating husband will typically feel so guilty that he'll readily spend money on his spouse to make up for cheating on her (which is also a moot point, we find out later on, because anything Mike bought for Lacey that could be construed as a sweet gift, he'd also bought something similar and better for his mistress). According to Wynnie, this is simply standard for men because they know which girls to bring home and marry and which girls they can only keep on the side to play around with... like her own husband who has his own string (not just one, but multiple) of girls.
But hey, at least he makes up for it by buying her splendid gifts out of guilt. Right?
(Imagine an eye-rolling gif here, because I saw one in my head every time Singletree's First Estate wives opened their mouths. But don't worry, there's more eye-rolling to come.)
The publicity begins to hamper at Lacey's chances of getting out of this divorce and settling the defamation suit. In some twisted, yet sadly realistic way, Lacey's meltdown has been interpreted by society as her becoming a vindictive bitch out to ruin her husband despite the fact that he was the one who couldn't keep his pants on around other women. Mike is turning out the sympathetic points in this mess. So her lawyer suggests that she goes away for a while and lay low. As long as she doesn't speak to anyone or make anymore noise than her newsletter already made, then she won't be the one who comes off as the insane, scorned woman out for vengeance; we want her to present the public with a hurt, angry wife who was blindsided from learning that her husband was unfaithful.
You know... because people are weird like that and need proof that the cheating husband is scum and didn't have plausible reasons to cheat on his wife... as if that makes sense.
So off to her old Gammy's cabin she goes to hide out... and in a way to also heal as she revels in how her marriage fell apart, how her life has been out of her control, and how she truly wants to live out the rest of her life.
Oh yes, then we have the romantic interest, Lefty Monroe, a.k.a. Francis Bernard Monroe. He's a crime novelist with a lot of titles under his name as well as an ex-police officer. He's renting the cabin next door to Lacey's grandmother's cabin for his own brand of peace and quiet while he writes his next big seller. He also doesn't give the best first impression when he automatically assumes that Lacey's appearance in the cabin next door is like every typical Romance novel story line. Basically, he's created a very imaginative scenario where she's a recent divorcee who (despite having done nothing to draw his attention) is caught in every possible cliched romantic plot to lure him into being the next Mr. Right in her life. Fortunately, she puts him in his place pretty quickly (even if she had to do it in her birthday suit after a skinny dip in wherein he thought she was trying to drown herself), and Monroe starts to grow on her (and the reader too, cause I stopped having problems with him after he became nicer).
And One Last Thing... was extremely enjoyable and very, very well written. There were a lot of incredibly humorous quips and random nonsensical dialogue that, in a round about way, managed to make sense and elicit a nice chuckle from me. Molly Harper gives Lacey a very relatable voice and a wide range of emotional and mental development that she gradually grows into as the story progresses. From a pampered modestly rich girl who was always coddled by her mother and her brother, to a naive housewife who learns that her husband is cheating on her... she concludes the book with style, learning to be more independent, less reliant on others, and finds her niche in life.
While her newsletter DID unnecessarily air out dirty family laundry to the public, she recognizes that it was a stupid move on her part caused by pent up anger. Of course, it was spontaneous and a clever form of revenge, if anything, so it's hard to be exasperated with her for it.
This book was very much a Lacey-centric novel that really touched lightly upon the romance. While it held a decently portrayed friendship-to-romance love story between Lacey and Monroe, it was more about Lacey's growth than anything. That's not to say that the relationship between her and Monroe wasn't sweet, adorable, and laden with hot chemistry--the development to love seemed a bit abrupt in light of what Lacey's going through, but we don't dwell on the romance long enough for it to matter. The two of them made a very good couple, if only because they truly seem naturally comfortable around each other. But romance wasn't the main basis of this story, and for that, I feel it worked out very well.
Character-wise, there were a lot of good side characters with colorful personalities, rich with potential: Emmett, Lacey's gay older brother who likes to get her drunk and then give her a makeover while she's too inebriated to notice anything; Sam Shackleton, Lacey's divorce attorney who looks like she's twelve, is a nicknamed "The Shark" for reasons, and slowly becomes a friend in Lacey's deteriorating world; Maya, CEO of a card company called "Season's Gratings" specializing in greeting cards that call out other people's undesired behavior in snarky, cleverly worded "Hallmark"-like quotes... and then some.
And one last thing...
I always seem to find little gems like these when I least expect to find them, so, once again, I'm extremely pleasantly, and giddily happy that I found this book so enjoyable. And very, very entertaining. While the story was written well and the characters great, there are, of course those few nagging things that fell slightly short. The conclusion, like the rest of the book, was quite inspiring, but it also felt like it fizzled into a conclusion rather than going out with a bang. Don't get me wrong, it was a good way to end the book, but it still felt like it was missing something.
Otherwise, And One Last Thing... is thus far one of the better Contemporaries I've read (probably because I read far less of these than I read other genres).
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):
This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in February 2015.