Simon & Schuster
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster AUS
Kira Danner has hit a flat spot in her job as an attorney in Florida. Not willing to pad her hours out in order to bill as many as she possibly can plus a moment of indiscretion in front of a client means that she knows she’ll be overlooked for partner for the foreseeable future. She finds herself less enthused each day about getting up and going to work. She had a plan and was well on track until she realised that in order to achieve it, she’d have to charge people for time that she wasn’t actually working.
Then her husband Pete informs her that his brother Rand and Rand’s wife have bought a B&B in snowy Vermont and they want Pete and Kira to go in with them in a one third share. Eventually Rand and Alyssa hope to increase the takings to employ a manager which would allow them to go off travelling again. Rand and Alyssa have always lived their lives on a whim and a shoestring. Kira, tired and burned out, agrees and they head to Vermont.
Once they get there, it seems that a serene future catering to happy guests is a pipedream. Instead the sisters-in-law find themselves catering their very first wedding and it becomes bigger and bigger with each passing day. The bride to be is very keen on her winter wedding being absolutely perfect and she’s determined to have everything that she wants. An unusual discovery renders Alyssa out of action and Kira finds herself doing most of the work along with Dawn Zukoski, a woman on the run who is working for food and board. But they don’t know what Dawn is running from…and that it may be very close to tracking her down!
I really enjoyed the last Sarah Pekkanen novel I read (The Best Of Us – my review is here) so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel, Catching Air. In The Best Of Us I really liked the way she tackled friendships and relationships, although I was glad not to be either friends with or married to, any of those people! This novel presents us with two brothers who are somewhat estranged and haven’t spoken much since the death of their mother some years ago. Nevertheless Rand offers up a chance for them to not only go into business together but to also obviously spend some time together and become close. Rand and his wife Alyssa have used a payout they received to purchase a bed & breakfast in Vermont and they want Rand’s brother Pete and his lawyer wife Kira to go in with them and help them run it. Kira is quite an accomplished cook and she also has a lot of vision – within minutes of them making the decision and arriving in Vermont, she’s full of ideas about services they can offer, meals and snacks they can serve. Rand and Alyssa are much more laid back it seems, less organised. Kira almost immediately steps into the role of semi-manager, a role that is only strengthened when they agree to take on their first large booking, a winter wedding. Alyssa is rendered out of action not long after that and the bulk of the organising and running around catering to the bride-to-be’s whims falls to Kira.
There’s just the right sort of awkwardness at times between the characters. Although Rand and Pete are brothers and both have been married or in the relationships for a while, Alyssa and Kira barely know each other. Pete and Kira are also at odds over whether to have a child and Rand and Alyssa’s situation puts even more strain on Pete and Kira because of this. At one stage it looks like all of the relationships are imploding spectacularly, coinciding with the arrival of the wedding day. Luckily there has been Dawn to help out. Dawn did something terrible for someone that she loved desperately, believing that she was helping him prove herself. Then it all backfired on her and she fled New York City and somehow ended up in Vermont and was befriended and brought to the B&B. She made herself useful and stayed on for her meals and board, helping out in any which way she can. But Dawn was always looking over her shoulder, always wondering whether or not the past would catch up with her.
I felt sorry for Dawn. She was definitely not the first woman to be taken in by a conman who professed to love her. The thing with Dawn is that she realised quickly after she did the terrible thing that she was being scammed and she fled and did her best to right things. She was utterly devastated by what had happened and she had just blindly fled the city, knowing that she was probably in danger if she stayed and that the only way to put things right would be to get away and find herself an anonymous way to repair the damage. She becomes kind of entangled in the lives of Rand, Alyssa, Pete and Kira and provides not only an outsiders point of view looking in but also a contrast to their lives when you consider her own.
Catching Air was another engrossing story that tackled complex family relationships, love and betrayal among a beautiful snowy Vermont setting. It doesn’t snow where I live but at the moment it feels almost cold enough for it to happen! I really enjoyed the B&B setting and how it was incorporated into the story and Kira’s energy and ideas. Rand and Alyssa were likable and fun and their story steered them both towards a new life of sorts, a growing up and settling down. I did think the book was heading to a much more dramatic conclusion than it did but I think the lower key resolution worked much better.
Book #127 of 2014