Sunday, June 8

Jane Heller - An Ex to Grind

Financial planner Melanie Banks fell for pro footballer Dan Swain as soon as they met - she was a student making ends meet as a waitress, he'd just signed for a major league team. It was a fairy tale romance and they wed within a year. But then Dan wrecked his knee, his contract was no-play-no-pay, and somehow - despite Melanie coaxing and pushing him to do anything - he became happy doing nothing more strenuous than going out drinking with the guys while Melanie funded his lifestyle. So it came as no surprise that she filed for divorce. It's just that Melanie didn't expect to be on the hook for alimony. And while she's living in a dump for the recently divorced, skimping to put something more appetising than Spam on the table, Dan's living it up with chartered flights to Vegas and designer suits. In desperation she turns to a match maker - if Dan cohabits for ninety days the alimony end, and Melanie's going to find the perfect someone if it kills her. She just didn't expect that Dan in love might just be the man she fell in love with, too.
A fun enough contribution to the genre, my only issue is the fundamental premise of the novel - not exactly a small problem. Maybe it's just that I haven't been in the situation, or maybe it's because I'm a feminist of the "equal means equal" school, where equal rights mean equal responsibilities. I agree with Melanie that a man who's perfectly capable of going out and working shouldn't be taking money from a former spouse - with the exception of a shared custody pug there're no dependents - but I'd feel the same way about an ex-wife who could work not doing so. However, given that it is what it is, I don't think I'd be incandescent with rage about it. If I have to pay the money, and there aren't any kids having their support frittered away, then what he spends it on is his business.
And this issue coloured my enjoyment of the whole, otherwise quite fun, book. If you can relate, think you'd barely be able to ungrit your teeth to say hello to your ex, and want an interesting twist on a romance novel, go for it. But if, like me, you think the idea's a little silly, maybe give it a miss. - Alex

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