Monday, April 23, 2012

A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber

Reviewed by Doris
Debbie Macomber is one of our most requested authors. Her  Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series along with her Christmas books are snapped up as soon as we get them from the publisher. The newest book in the Blossom Street series, A Turn in the Road, and it is very much one of Macomber’s signature novels. It showcases three women who have reached a point in their lives where they look at change and must decide which path they will follow. 
Bethanne Hamlin is in the middle years of her life like most of Macomber’s main characters. She was married for twenty years to Grant who one day walks out of their marriage to be with a much younger woman named Tiffany. Devastated by his desertion and the pain it brings to her and her two children, Bethanne must find a new way to live her life. Using skills she learned as the perfect corporate wife to Grant, she sets up her own company specializing in party planning. In five years she has five stores and is thinking about franchising across the country. In achieving her business success Bethanne has found a new confidence and sense of self that makes her much different than the woman Grant deserted.  When Grant and Tiffany divorce, Grant wants to reunite with Bethanne but she isn’t sure that’s what she needs to do.  She is still dealing with some anger and resentment from the way Grant destroyed her family. Her daughter Annie who always was a “Daddy’s girl” is pushing hard for the reconciliation, as is Grant’s mother Ruth. Her son Andrew has not forgiven his father and is in the middle of finishing law school and planning his wedding. He cautions his mother to remember how badly Grant behaved and to be very sure before she agrees to reconcile. That is just Bethanne’s problem: she is not sure she can really trust Grant again even though he is trying hard to win her back and he acknowledges his mistakes.
Ruth, Grant’s mother, has always been close to Bethanne. When Grant destroyed his family, she took him to task harshly. Now she is really hoping Bethanne will let Grant come home since he has taken responsibility for his mistakes and because he sincerely seems to love Bethanne and wants to rebuild their life together. Ruth too is facing a decision about her life. Her 50th high school class reunion in Florida is coming up in a few short weeks. Ruth makes plans to drive from Seattle to Vero Beach, Florida, on her own because she wants to see Royce, her high school sweetheart. Ruth hurt Royce very badly so she feels a great need to see him and make amends. Knowing her son and daughter will be fiercely opposed to her taking off cross-country by herself, Ruth tells Bethanne about the trip. Hoping the trip will give her some distance and time to make a decision about Grant, Bethanne tells Ruth she will go with her.
Annie, Bethanne and Grant’s daughter, was fifteen when her adored daddy walked out on his family. She began a cycle of acting out and doing everything she could to sabotage Grant’s new wife. Now she is Grant’s strongest advocate and she is pushing Bethanne as hard as she can to reunite with Grant. Annie has been in a long relationship with Vance, and she believes he is going to ask her to marry him one special night. Instead Vance delivers some news that sends Annie in a tailspin. When she hears about her mom’s and grandmother’s trip, Annie invites herself along. She too is facing a crossroads in her relationship, and she hopes she can push her mom right back into dear Daddy’s arms. Will this trip give Annie a better understanding of her mother’s fears and choices?
With two weeks to get to Vero Beach the travelers choose to add a few stops here and there (Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans). On one of these little side jaunts, they run into some car trouble. At an isolated lake where they stopped to cool off, the three women are rescued by, of all things, four bikers.  Bethanne goes with the biker named Max to find a tow truck. Annie calls her father. Ruth decides she will hide the clothes of three bikers swimming nude in the lake. Much to her embarrassment the bikers are not the least shy about coming out of the water to discuss the situation with her!
Bethanne and Max connect in a very visceral way. Bethanne realizes almost immediately that he is not what he seems, and she finds herself deeply drawn to him. Max seems to feel the same way about her, and that sets in motion new choices and concerns for Bethanne. With Annie and Ruth giving her a hard time about Max every minute of every day, Bethanne pushes Max away and then pulls him closer. Grant who receives a phone call from Annie every ten minutes tattling on her mother decides he needs to join the party in Florida. Ruth grows more nervous the closer they get to Royce. Annie meets a couple of new guys who give her a little different perspective on her relationship with Vance.
Macomber is quite good at dealing with crossroads and women whose lives are in a state of flux. Her Blossom Street series is all about women finding new paths for themselves. A Turn in the Road is much like her other books in the series—easily readable, funny at times, poignant at other times, and a surprise or two thrown in for good measure. In this book you know how the trip (and the plot) is going to end, but you can enjoy the ride to get there.  (Just a personal note here: I found Bethanne to be way more patient with Annie and Ruth than I would have been. I would have put both of them out on the side of the road and taken off with Max!)

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