I knew of Linda Holmes from her debut novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over. I enjoyed it enough to eventually pick up her second novel, Flying Solo (2022). The story takes place in the same town of her first novel.
Laurie Sassalyn grew up in the small town of Calcasset, Maine. She finds herself back there after her Great Aunt Dot passes away. Laurie is volunteered by her family to go through Aunt Dot’s things, so she moves into Dot’s house while she begins to organize everything. Laurie has always had a special relationship with her great aunt and doesn’t mind this responsibility.
Now, there are two main parts to this story. The first is a bit of a mystery. Laurie finds a beautiful, carved, wooden duck wrapped up in a drawer. She doesn’t know where it came from, why it had been hidden away for so long, or why she’s never seen it before.
The second part of the novel is her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Nick Cooper, who still lives in town. They were high school sweethearts, but Laurie broke up with him in college because she knew that she wanted a life outside of Calcasset. And she also knew that Nick was someone who wanted nothing more than to settle down where he was. But now Nick is divorced and Laura is just off a broken engagement, so the two are both single for the first time in years.
I did enjoy reading this book, but there were some parts I enjoyed more than others. I liked Laurie and Nick, and I liked them together, but the drama of their romance was a little tiring. They were perfect for each other, and they always had been perfect for each other. The only question was whether Laurie was going to let herself be flexible enough to try to date him. I found it a little tiring by the end. However, I did enjoy the duck mystery–especially the part with the mini villain.
Some of this story was remarkably relatable. Laurie had a bunch of noisy brothers that she liked to take time away from. She also hated when they barged into her room, invading her space. I sometimes felt like she was talking about my own childhood. In fact, one of her brothers had struggled with mental illness as an adult, which was barely touched upon, but felt all too familiar.
Now, this next part would have resonated much more strongly with me if I’d read it before I’d met my husband and got married, but Laurie was committed to being single and not giving up her life for a man. She was happy and content with her life, and she decided she wanted to live her life like her great Aunt: full of adventure and travel. When she tries to be intimate and sleep over, she wakes up at two in the morning and can’t go back to sleep (just like me!). Laurie has realized that she enjoys being single and wants to stay that way. In the end, she doesn’t give up on Nick, but she also doesn’t give up on her dreams. I almost wish I had read this book when I was single because I felt exactly like Laurie at the time. But I felt like that because I was too scared to be vulnerable enough to be in that kind of a relationship. I feel like I’m in a better place now, so I wouldn’t want to go back there. But I still appreciate that Holmes called out the positive things about being single.
cbr15bingo: North America – because this book takes place in a beautiful, small town in Maine.