Before Harvey and I went on our annual summer getaway to Victoria and Salt Spring I had to decide which book to take. Never an easy task for a librarian. So I figured I’d try someone that’s new to me – Jennifer Crusie. She’s a staple in the romance genre, but Maybe This Time goes way beyond mere romance. It’s populated with ghosts, troubled children, a housekeeper from hell, a sexy ex husband, a prickly medium and a pushy journalist. And those are just the main characters!
This lighthearted romp opens with Andie (Andromeda) Miller going to her ex-husband North Archer’s office so she can give him back 10 years worth of uncashed alimony cheques, in an effort to gain some closure. North, silver tongued devil that he is, convinces Andie to do him one last favour. Knowing she’s capable and level-headed, he asks her to take care of two orphaned kids (for whom he is the newly appointed guardian) just until she can stabilize them enough to bring them back to his home in Columbus. A distant cousin died and left North these kids and a big old house in rural Ohio. The catch is that he’s offering Andie $10,000 a month to keep them safe, healthy and educated. How could she refuse?
Never mind that she’s on the brink of becoming engaged and has her own life to lead. North smooth talks her into going, and Andie soon realizes that she may have bitten off more than she chew. The kids – Carter, 12, and Alice, 9 – are emotionally scarred from losing both parents and several nannies, and are the polar opposite of well-adjusted. The house is haunted with several homicidal ghosts that converse with and possess the residents. And the whack-job housekeeper, Mrs. Crumb, is a lazy lush.
And as if that isn’t enough to handle, enter Kelly O’Keefe, an opportunistic journalist (isn’t that redundant?), and her main squeeze Sullivan (North’s brother); Professor Dennis Graff, a parapsychologist; Isolde Hammersmith, a reluctant medium; North Archer’s mom; Andie’s mom; and Will Spencer, Andie’s almost fiancé. When they decide to hold a séance to try and talk sense into the harassing ghosts, all hell breaks loose.
For a woman who doesn’t want to have kids of her own, Andie grows very attached to Alice and Carter. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the ghosts haunts Andie nightly and makes her keep having sexy dreams about North. You just know from page one that this is going to turn into a “one-big-happy-family” story, but who cares.
While it’s not exactly high literature, it sure as heck was a fun way to pass the time on the beach. I’m all for light, escapist novels – when I’m not busy reading Dostoyevsky or Plato, that is. So go for it. For other popular reading suggestions check out Richmond Public Library's Web site at www.yourlibrary.ca/goodbooks/.