A woman in her 30s strives to overcome doubts regarding her romance with a bartender in this novel.
Angie Dugan has no fond memories of her past relationships. The 34-year-old social worker at Lindell Retirement Home in Dunston, New York, has been seeing bartender Matt for well over a month. She fears she’ll do something to drive him away. Years ago, her mom, Lavinia, walked out on her family: She was fed up with her husband Potter’s alcoholism. Though Lavinia soon returned for her five children, Angie continues to have abandonment issues. She consequently keeps people at arm’s length and has difficulty trusting Matt. He certainly doesn’t make it easy; he’s good friends with Sharon, a server at The Watering Hole, where he works. Evidently, Matt and Sharon had a relationship, but is it over, as he claims? Making matters worse is Potter, whose recent problems with his wife, Mary Beth, seem to have driven the recovering alcoholic to drink excessively. As Angie counsels her beloved but troubled father, she tries pushing out negative thoughts concerning Matt in case what the two have is indeed love. Parrish fills her story with indelible characters, most notably the Dugans, who have appeared in her earlier novels. Family propels the narrative, from Angie’s siblings to Matt’s addict sister, Jen, and even a few Lindell residents. The tale delivers a realistic depiction of loving relationships and, as such, is often gloomy. Angie, for example, unquestionably loves her family, undeterred by her sister Marta’s apparent indifference or Potter’s stumbles. At the same time, her burgeoning romance with Matt is thoroughly engaging. Since readers have the same information as Angie, they may likewise wonder about Matt’s intermittently suspicious behavior. The author’s crisp prose keenly details Angie’s predicament, as when she chastises herself for a “nasty sardonic voice” that has become her “default setting.”
An outstanding, unsentimental portrait of family, love, and unavoidable hardships. (dedication, author bio)