Life After Perfect
By Nancy Naigle
After making sure that her cheating husband knows that his sins have found him out, Katherine arranges a leave from her job, withdraws half of the money in their savings account, leaves word with a lawyer friend that she wants “the fastest divorce you can serve up,” and heads north. What she intended to be a brief stop in Boot Creek, a small North Carolina town, turns into an extended stay when Katherine falls for the town’s charms. First, she meets a local citizen who recommends the town’s blackberry festival which boasts the world’s largest patchwork blackberry cobbler. The cobbler is delicious, and so is the guy who recommended it, volunteer firefighter Derek Hansen whose flirtatious ways give Katherine a much needed ego boost. Then she finds the comforts of the local B & B, Lonesome Pines, surprising: “What a lucky day to land in a spot like this for just fifty dollars a night. Comfort equal to the Ritz-Carlton, and a therapist/ grandma here to comfort her. It was like a recovery clinic for the rich and famous.”
Finding peace and purpose in Book Creek, Katherine becomes Katy again, the curly-haired girl she used to be before she made herself into an “improved,” polished edition with sleek hair and a serious career to please her husband. She finds new friends in Naomi, the owner of the B & B; Naomi’s niece, Kelly Jo, who is dying of cancer; and Angie, single mother and waitress at the Blue Skies Café. And she may have found far more than a rebound romance in Derek, who is not only a volunteer firefighter but also a doctor. But Katy has to deal with all the baggage from her old life before she can commit to a new one, and Derek needs to come to terms with losses in his past if he is to be part of that new life.
Life After Perfect is a hybrid of women’s fiction and small-town romance. Katy’s journey is the center of the novel, and readers will find rewarding Katy’s growth as she redefines herself after the revelation of her husband’s unfaithfulness discloses the imperfections in her perfect life. Her developing relationship with Derek is also an important part of the story, and he is definitely a sigh-worthy hero—sensitive, intelligent, and wounded. The secondary characters, including the indomitable Naomi, the courageous Kelly Jo and her broken-hearted husband, and the spirited Angie, are vividly drawn and add dimension to the story.
Some readers may be bothered by Katy and Derek’s becoming lovers before she is divorced, and others may dislike the evidence that Katy is a believing Christian. I found that the contradictions and complications added to the novel’s credibility and interest. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Boot Creek and hope that it is the first of many. If you like women’s fiction tales with a strong romantic element or small-town romance with an emphasis on the heroine’s journey, I recommend this book.