Synopsis: Lawyer Emma Tupper goes on a dream vacation that turns into a nightmare. When an earthquake interrupts her trip, Emma is stranded in Africa… and presumed dead by her friends and coworkers. Finally able to get home, Emma realizes that she cannot pick up where she left off when she finds her apartment has been sublet, her clients reassigned, and her boyfriend had moved on. With everyone suggesting that she take this opportunity re-evaluate her life, Emma struggles to find her place.
Writing Style: The storyline starts just before Emma leaves Africa for her home, but in each chapter there is a memory of her time in Africa. Sometimes these recollections have a relatable theme as to what is currently happening in Emma’s life, while other times it just seems to be there as a means to satisfy the readers curiosity about the missing six months.
Pacing: The tale manages to keep things interesting through emotion rather than always something fascinating and/or drama-filled happening. Even when Emma is doing nothing more than going to work or making dinner, you’re still on the edge of your seat in expectation as you wonder what Emma will do about the dissatisfaction she is feeling.
Location: For the most part, the story appears to take place somewhere in the North America. I think. To be honest, I don’t recall any specific mention of the city where Emma lives, though some American locations of photographs are mentioned and a layover in England leave you to believe that it must be somewhere in either the States or possibly even Canada (as the author is Canadian).
Plot: At first it seems rather improbable that someone would be temporarily removed from their life and trying to regain their place in it but, when you think about it, the situation can actually be all too true. You realize it is rather reminiscent of what people in the military or undercover cops or others with similar careers must endure after returning from their mission… as well as those who have endured natural disasters that leave their homes ravaged and their lives taking unexpected turns.
Character: Sophie is Emma’s nemesis, a character whom you love to hate… until the end where she unexpected becomes rather human. While she now becomes a bit more of a sympathetic character, you don’t really want her to be likeable unless she’ll be the heroine of an upcoming book.
Character Development: The odd thing about this novel is that Emma doesn’t really grow as a character. She doesn’t seem to change in any way other than realizing that life doesn’t always happen the way you expect it to. She does learn a few lessons that could affect the way she has lived her life to this point, but she remains innately the same.
Romance: The relationship between Emma and Dominic begins in the expected way, and starts to follow the expected pattern until it reaches an unexpected obstacle. Instead of any huge blow-up or outside source attempting to rip them apart, it is actually just the knowledge that they both need time to adjust to their new circumstances in life before they are emotionally ready for another relationship. How utterly, and rather enjoyably, realistic of them.
Quote: “I feel kind of lost in the middle of my own life, if that makes sense.”
The Verdict: This is the third book by Catherine McKenzie that I have read, and my favourite to date. When I read the previous two I was surprised by liking the one I didn’t expect to like more than the one I did, which allowed me to be a little less pre-judgmental when I cracked the cover of this one. If you are going to read only a single book by Catherine McKenzie, make it this one.