Family Affair

Family Affair

4.2 19
by Caprice Crane

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When Layla Brennan married her high school sweetheart, Brett Foster, she finally got the big, loving family she’d always wanted: his. Now she’s closer to Brett’s parents than he is, partners with his sister in a successful pet-photography business, and confidant to his younger brother. She couldn’t be more of a Foster if she’d been


When Layla Brennan married her high school sweetheart, Brett Foster, she finally got the big, loving family she’d always wanted: his. Now she’s closer to Brett’s parents than he is, partners with his sister in a successful pet-photography business, and confidant to his younger brother. She couldn’t be more of a Foster if she’d been born one. There’s just one problem: Brett wants a divorce. Stunned and heartbroken, Layla turns to the Fosters for comfort, only to realize that losing Brett means losing them as well. What else can she do but sue him for the most valuable thing he’s got–namely, his family. Breaking up may be hard to do, but for Layla and Brett it’s even harder to undo.

Fresh, funny, poignant, and brimming with insight into what makes modern families tick–and what can blow them apart–Family Affair proves that in love and war, everything’s relative.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Perceptive, touching and always hilarious, Family Affair is Caprice Crane's best work yet. It's an irresistible story with equal parts humor and heart." —Emily Giffin, author of Love the One You're With

"The phrase 'You don't marry the man; you marry his family' has never rung so true. Family Affair is so full of heart and humor, you'll want to squeeze into the family station wagon and sit shotgun for the ride." —Stephanie Klein, NYT bestselling author of Straight Up and Dirty and Moose

"With a finely tuned ear for dialogue and a biting sense of humor, Family Affair is another winner. Crane is masterful at creating lovably flawed characters and placing them in hilariously relatable predicaments. I simply adored this book because no one does fiction funnier than Caprice Crane." —Jen Lancaster, NYT bestselling author of Pretty in Plaid

"An unflinchingly honest, fiercely funny, unexpectedly tender story of a marriage between two very appealing people you'll root for every step of the way." —Melissa Senate, author of The Secret of Joy

"This is a clever and unique take on the romantic comedy. Witty, touching and often laugh-out-loud funny, I loved it." —Alison Pace, author of City Dog

Publishers Weekly
In Crane's hilarious third relationship soap (after Forget About It), a divorcing couple fights for custody, not of a child or a pet but of an entire family. Layla and Brett Foster became high school sweethearts after her mother died and her musician father abandoned her in the care of Brett's parents. Their subsequent marriage appeared rock solid, but now, on the verge of 30, still immature Brett is a college football coach who begins thinking the thrill is gone. Somewhat clueless Layla is a pet photographer and co-owner of TLC Paw Prints with sister-in-law Trish, and just when Layla brings up the possibility of having kids, Brett blurts out his desire to divorce. In the ensuing domestic battle royale, Brett's family become Layla's fierce allies, and Brett turns jealous and furious when Layla files a countersuit for joint custody of Brett's family. Watching this exceedingly unconventional family duke it out and grow up is truly delightful. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Coming-of-age comedy meets Gen Y love story in this tale of a rough patch in a young marriage, made worse by the wife's extremely close connection to his family. Together since high school, pretty Layla and hunky Brett Foster have what many would consider an enviable life. She's a cheerful fixture at all his football games (he coaches a winning college team) and loves his close-knit family as if it were her own. In many ways it is. When Layla's mother passed away during her teens, Brett's family took her in, giving her the support her absentee dad wasn't capable of. She plays poker with Brett's dad Bill; offers dating advice to his socially awkward bother Scott; and has a pet photography business with his acerbic lesbian sister Trish. But on the cusp of turning 30, Brett starts to see Layla's tightness with his clan as a hindrance rather than an asset; he feels left out, not to mention confused by a wife who acts kind of like a sister. In a turn of events that shocks everyone, he asks for a divorce and moves out. Stunned, devastated and possibly in denial, Layla turns to the Fosters for support, in effect pitting Brett's own family against him. What follows is a no-holds-barred game of one-upsmanship between the estranged couple, including a "custody agreement" giving her alternative weekends with the Fosters. Brett starts dating an attractive new colleague and tracks down Layla's long-lost dad, a failed rock star she barely remembers. Crane (Forget About It, 2007, etc.) gamely depicts the real-life pitfalls of a committed relationship. Immature behavior on both sides leads to some serious soul-searching, including Layla's realization that she might be just a tad too cozy with herin-laws. Has some biting moments, but Brett and Layla's often silly problems don't always make for compelling conflict.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


Eric Clapton stole Pattie Boyd from George Harrison. This is common knowledge by now. What’s less well known is that Eric Clapton stole my father from my mother. Our nuclear family was another casualty of the undying allure of sex, drugs, and platinum-selling vinyl. I used to wonder what would steal my own marital happiness.

Being named after a Clapton song is a mixed blessing. There’s the instant recognition factor, sure, but it also provides every would-be suitor a ready-made pickup line: “Layla—like the song? Were your parents listening to that song when your mom got knocked up?”

“No,” I always reply, “but wouldn’t it be cool if my name were Bruiser, ’cause then our names would rhyme!”

In seventh grade, Garret Paulson ventured a little lyrical perversion and taunted me with “Layla, you’ve got me on my knees; Layla, I’m begging, darlin’, please.” I got the last laugh, or rather, twenty or so seventh-graders at Presley Middle School did, when I swung my field-hockey stick into his groin. Talk about being on your knees. . . . Live and learn, I guess.

The name choice was my father’s doing. “Layla” was his favorite song, and my mom didn’t argue—she liked the idea of me not having a popular name. Hers is Sue, and she was surrounded by Sues all her life, constantly answering when she wasn’t called and feeling like just one among many. From the start, she wanted me to stand out—thought it was my destiny—so she went along with Layla. And dressed me in a tie-dyed Onesie.

After all the years of having my name, for some reason I still get a kick out of hearing it—almost every time. The exception is the case of its being barked at me as if I wasn’t only nine feet away from the person shouting it. This time, it’s Brett, my husband.

“Layla!” he yells, again.

I’ll tell you why I haven’t answered: because I know the acoustics of this house. I know when someone can hear you and when they can’t. I know because I live here. And because I’m not an idiot. Yet he thinks that when I call his name and he’s in the very next room—looking at a game on the TV or screwing around on his computer or whatever the case may be—I don’t know he can totally hear me. He’ll ignore me and then act all innocent. It insults my intelligence at its very core.

So I’m returning the favor. He knows damn well I can hear him. Just like he heard me this morning when I was trying to get his attention. Of course, his boy Troy Aikman was talking on the TV at the time, and I knew he’d want to watch.

My ignoring him seems petty, I realize, but he’s driven me to it. We weren’t always like this—just lately. And I know I’m the one who sounds like the jerk in this situation, but I’m only reacting to the way he’s been treating me. Which doesn’t make it better, I suppose, but it at least puts things into context.

“Could you not hear me?” Brett asks, as he storms around our place looking for something.

“What?” I say. “Did you say something?”

“I was calling you from the other room.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I reply, genuine as can be. “I didn’t hear you.” Just like you never seem to hear me anymore unless it’s convenient.

“Have you seen my keys?” he asks.

“I think so. In the kitchen. Or maybe on top of the hamper. Yeah, the hamper. Definitely on top of the hamper.”

He walks toward the bathroom without uttering anything resembling a thank-you, and I hear the keys jingle as he grabs them. Then I hear the front door open.

“See you at the game?” he calls out.

“Um . . .” For a split second I debate whether or not I should go. Then I consider the fact that I’ve been rather lax in my game attendance of late. And I also remember that at least I’ll have Brooke, my best friend from grade school, there to keep me company. “You bet.” •••

Brooke and I sit together at the fifty-yard line, and I chomp on stale popcorn as she rates the asses of the guys on the opposing team.

“I’m gonna give him a seven,” she says. “I think it’s hairy.”

“Gross. Why would you think that?”

“Because he’s already going bald, and hair tends to migrate. When they don’t have hair on their head, they seem to have it everywhere they don’t want it.”

“Okay,” I say. “Which begs the question, why, if it’s hairy, does he still get a seven? That’s a fairly decent score.”

“I take it back. Make it a five.” Then she points to another guy. “He gets a two. Too big. The bigger the butt, the more chances of skid marks. I’ve found they don’t wipe well when they have big butts. Too much land to cover.”

“I’m kind of horrified right now.”

“Try doing the laundry. That’s what’s horrifying.”

“Whose imaginary big-butted laundry are you doing?” I ask, because Brooke hasn’t been in a relationship for at least a year.

“Nobody’s. By choice.”

“Nice work if you can get it,” I say, as I watch Brett run along the sideline, his shock of dark hair flopping every which way. At six-two, one hundred ninety pounds, with shoulders out to here and a body in perfect fighting condition, you’d think he might be running onto the field himself to take the next handoff. And I know that nearly every female in the stadium is wondering what he looks like in those spandex shorts and compression shirts they wear at practice—I’ve heard them talking in the ladies’ room.

“How’s the coach lately?”

“He’s good,” I say, as I shove a handful of popcorn into my mouth.

“Has he even once looked up to see you in the stands?”

“He’s trying to win a game, Brooke,” I defend. “He knows I’m here.”

“He used to always look up. That’s all I’m saying.”

“Well, thank you for pointing that out to me,” I answer, as if I hadn’t noticed. I sure as hell had noticed. I don’t know if he appreciates my even coming to the games anymore. Hence my aforementioned recent lack of attendance.

I’ve done my damnedest to be a good wife—to always be supportive and make sure he knows, every day, how much I love him. I’ve spent many a day and night standing on the sidelines, wearing a hat with a large plastic beak jutting out the front, screeching and waving as I watch the team for which he’s defensive coordinator. As I watched them lose. And lose. And lose. Never mind that I don’t even really like football—I love Brett. And he loves football. He always has. I learned the basics so I could at least follow along, even though he’d still say I need Football 101. I was there cheering him on through every down of what was originally a miserable college coaching career. To me it was a failure only in name, because I was as proud of him as I would be if he’d never lost a game, even though the University of California at Culver City (UCCC) Condors were on their way to setting a new collegiate Division III record in losses that year. To his credit, even though the team had one of the lowest winning percentages ever, they had the highest graduation rate in the conference. At Brett’s insistence, he and the head coach, Frank Wells, had been stressing both unity and academics—the whole package. The school paper suggested changing the name from the Condors to the Scoreless Scholars. No one on the team thought it was funny in the least. In fact, the entire offensive line was going to trash the paper’s offices, but they all had computer lab that day.

How bad were they at that point? They’d lost their previous twenty-five games going back two and a half years, starting before Brett and Coach Wells took over. Brooke even had a running bet with me that if they ever won, she’d give me five hundred dollars. Brooke, who was working on an assistant’s salary and could barely swing her rent each month, was that sure of their suckiness. I didn’t make her pay when they finally did win—but I probably should have.

In one particularly painful game, the team gave up forty-two points—in the first quarter. Another time, they lost to a team whose bus had broken down, leaving a good half of their players stranded two hours away while the other half put together a forty-nine–zip shutout victory. I cheered for Brett’s guys throughout, and meant it. I loved being there for him, even when things looked their roughest. Maybe even especially then.

During that season, due to an early injury sidelining their field-goal kicker, Brett played a hunch and recruited the drum major from the marching band to take his place. When that guy twisted a knee, Brett and Coach Wells simply started going for it on every fourth down, whether they were on the five or the fifty, and whether they had one yard or thirty to go. The crowd loved it. Unfortunately, so did the other teams’ opposing defense. And the school paper. But that was Brett’s style, which he encouraged in Coach Wells: He was willing to take a risk and live with the consequences, no matter the opposition. That was something that only made me love him more.

Which reminds me of one particular game—the one that changed our lives, actually. With thirty seconds left, they were down by just five points and the Condors had the ball on the other guys’ seven-yard line. In two and a half years the team had never been so close late in the game. You wouldn’t know it to see the stadium seats filled with a thousand Condor faithful, enticed by the recent zany play. So what if the other ten thousand seats were empty? I alone screamed loud enough for at least a couple thousand people.

Oh, how I remember. It was a critical moment, and he clearly had something he was talking himself into, but what did Brett do? He first glanced up to search the crowd for me. My heart raced, and I met his gaze and waved like a lunatic, so proud, so in love. I could see it in his expression—he was planning something crazy. And that’s what I loved about him: his craziness. You need that touch of insanity to have the kind of chemistry we had. And win or lose, I knew we’d roll with the punches, as we’d done since the day we met in high school. The sex was better when we won, to be honest, but either way it was pretty damn good. A girl only needs to be taken on the kitchen floor, then the living-room sofa, then the dining-room table so many times. Sometimes a bed does the trick just as well.

But back to Brett’s play calling. On the key play of the key game of his early coaching career, Brett managed to talk Coach Wells into calling a triple reverse to the fullback, or something like that, something he’d been drawing up for about a month, involving three lateral passes that would leave this particular opponent’s defensive line stymied, running from side to side and gasping for air. The play was executed brilliantly—well, except for the fullback fumbling the ball out of bounds right before the goal line. The Condors lost, but the loss didn’t mean much. A lot of fans went away disappointed but not surprised, and it gave the team a chance to rally behind the hapless fullback, something that doesn’t happen enough in team sports. Somhow the close loss also gave them a vitality they hadn’t known beforehand. It was as if they gelled suddenly, and achieved the chemistry Brett and Coach Wells had been trying to foster all along.

Meet the Author

Caprice Crane is the author of the novels Stupid and Contagious and Forget About It—both winners of Romantic Times awards. She divides her time between Los Angeles, where she wrote for the TV show 90210, and New York City. She's at work on her fourth novel.

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Family Affair 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Amy_Y More than 1 year ago
This is a story about what makes a family. It's a quick read, mostly because it has the pacing of a good romantic comedy movie. I typically don't care for books where each chapter is written from a different person's perspective but for this book. The author did such a great job distinguishing each character's voice to the point that you didn't have to look at the heading of the chapter to know who's point of view it was. The choice to tell the story from different point of views was a good one, especially since there was a divorce going on throughout the plot. You got to objectively see and feel both sides of the story. The book took place in Los Angeles and being from Los Angeles, I enjoyed going to places I go to, but with another view different from my own. I laughed out loud and cried a little. The Foster family became my own for 300 pages.
Hal30 More than 1 year ago
Read it
IHeart2Read More than 1 year ago
My synopsis Brett and Layla have been together since high school. Shortly after Layla's mom passed away, Layla moved in with Brett and his family. It's now years later and Brett and Layla are married. While Layla begins planning their future, Brett questions his feelings for her. When did Layla stop being his wife and start being his sister? My review I'll be honest. sitting on my night stand (unread) are the author's two previous novels: Stupid and Contagious and Forget About It. When I heard about Ms. Crane's latest release Family Affair, I automatically added it to my TBR List. I thought it would be a light, fun read. Definitely a good book to curl up with on a cold winter day. Actually Family Affair ended up being more than that. While reading Family Affair one question repeatedly came to mind: what makes a family? I'm sure if I asked ten people this question I would receive ten different answers. This is exactly what Layla struggles with. Layla's mother passed away when she was a teenager. Her dad left the family years before. So when she began dating Brett, it was natural that his family would welcome her as part of their family. Initially I think Brett accepted this. As he grew older and left home, Layla always wanting to spend time with his family became a bit disturbing. So much so, that he began seeing her as his sister and not his wife. Doubting his love for her, he asks for a divorce. This decision drives a wedge between Brett and his family. As the reader becomes a part of their antics to win the family's attention, Brett and Layla delve into their respective relationships with each family member and with each other. Narrated in alternating chapters, Family Affair is a refreshing read. 4.5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our book club read "Family Affair". For the most part, we all enjoyed it. However, the ending was a little idealistic in that almost "everybody wins". I like those kind of endings because I'm also idealistic, but it didn't sit well with some of the members. It was warm and funny; and it shows how we tend to take relationships for granted.
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katadata More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book. I never saw the ending coming. It made me laugh, smile, and most of all, cry. It takes a lot to make that happen. Maybe it was how much I related to both Brett and Layla or maybe it was how much I was sucked into their story. Either way, it is another AMAZING piece of work from Ms. Crane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago