“Clean escapist romance.” That would be the best description of Debbie Macomber’s genre. Escapist lit is not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t challenge the reader. It’s familiar, comfortable, and predictable.
I experienced A Girl’s Guide to Moving On as an audio-book checked out from our local online library. Over a period of two weeks I would listen to it through headphones while walking around the neighborhood on clear afternoons, plugged into my car’s audio system while running errands, or while making dinner and folding laundry. It is perfect for such mundane activities.
The two audio-book narrators take on the roles of middle-aged Leanne and her 30-something daughter-in-law, Nichole. The plot follows their stories back and forth with an easy-going fluidity. Both are on the brink of divorce from their two-timing husbands (keep in mind that Nichole’s ex is Leanne’s son,) both are adjusting to a newly simplified lifestyle, both are looking to redefine themselves as someone other than “so-and-so’s” wife.
Of course as a light romance, that last point is doomed to failure. Personally, I take issue with “moving on” being characterized as finding a new romance so quickly after a divorce, but, as with most escapist literature, we have to be forgiving and suspend reality a bit.
Enter Rocco for Nichole and Nikolai for Leanne. Both story-lines have their “will they or won’t they” hiccups, bumps, and obstacles. Both men are supposed to be the antithesis of the ex-husbands. While Rocco is a “rough around the edges” gentleman, I found Nikolai to be demanding, jealous, and something of a bully. Perhaps others would disagree, but I was not rooting for that particular relationship.
As the story progressed I found myself staying with the characters more out of curiosity than actual emotional investment. By the end, there were no real surprises, no real lessons learned by anyone, just the satisfaction of having everything end exactly as I had predicted. If anything, it was a “placeholder” type of book–one you read until you find something better, which wouldn’t be difficult.