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Posted July 11, 2013
As much as Secret was Shayla’s story, The Art of Endings is Trey and Darren’s stories and how they reconcile their pasts with the women who will be their futures. With Secret ending the way it did a reader might expect The Art of Endings to pick up there, but Nia surprised me yet again with her refusal to be boxed into a formulaic storyline to be populated by predictable characters.
Trey takes center stage in his and Shayla’s romance this go round, and he has a doozy of a situation to work through. A former hook-up who happens to be the daughter of someone who could make or break his career is holding the paternity of an unborn child over his head, while he’s simultaneously dealing with Tessa leaving the fold, and Shayla coming into her own career-wise. Not to mention, the looming specter of Shayla’s ex Justin Ford’s life possibly converging with theirs.
Darren finds himself soul-searching as he witnesses his best friend finding the kind of love that has always eluded him. In Paige Freeman he sees an opportunity lost, and a love that is forbidden, because she is the fiancé of his best friend who died in the military in the Middle East. He has set this woman on a pedestal and feels, as he always has concerning her, that he’s just not good enough. In college he’d been unable to reconcile their dissimilar backgrounds, so when his friend Clint came along who possessed the pedigree of a man he thought that a woman like Paige deserved, he stepped aside.
The Art of Endings is a well-crafted story, delving into history coming back to bite two men who were both womanizers for various and sundry reasons who finally realize the “more” they want out of life can be found with the women who are right under their proverbial noses. There, of course, are other themes, but I’m not going any deeper. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find the others.
My favorite and least-liked character was Darren. He’s my favorite because he was so flawed, complicated, and more likely to eff up. And he was my least-liked because he did some trifling things as a result of his inability to reconcile his feelings for Paige early on. I wanted to send him off to a therapist several times in the book–or beat his ass, one of the two. However, I feel like he was thoroughly redeemed, despite everything he put Paige through. In fact, I believe I also liked Darren so much because he reminds me of a guy one of my best college friends fell for back in the day. They are married now and have a beautiful family, but she endured much of what Paige did before they finally got there. This goes to show that sometimes, it takes a very special woman/man to love that person that many see as totally unlovable.
I had to read The Art of Endings the moment it was released because I wanted to find out what happened with Shayla and Trey, but also to get a three-dimensional view of the lives of the secondary characters I’d grown to love almost as much as the primary characters.