Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quick Look: The Ex-Debutante

The Ex-Debutante
By Linda Francis Lee

The Premise: Carlisle Wainwright Cushing, of the old money Willow Creek, Texas Wainwrights, ran away to Boston right after law school, where she has established herself as a Grade A divorce lawyer. Carlisle likes living where nobody knows her family or the story of her less than graceful debut, and she has not only a great job but an equally great fiance (even if he is a Yankee.) Everything’s just peachy until Carlisle’s mother summons her home to help deal with her latest divorce. Thinking she’ll be in town for about a week, Carlisle arrives in Willow Creek to find that not only is her mother expecting her to handle the divorce from beginning to end, the lawyer for her soon-to-be-ex stepfather is none other than Jack Blair, Carlisle’s old flame and the man she left without a word when she went to Boston. Jack, a sexy bad boy who made good, now has a formidable professional reputation of his own, and a beautiful fiance as well. Our intrepid heroine barely has time to register the incredible chemistry she still feels with Jack when her family drops another bombshell: the 100th Annual Willow Creek Symphony Debutante Ball, an event always run by a Wainwright, is in danger of becoming a complete debacle, and Carlisle is expected to step in and save the day.

What I liked: Carlisle is a great, likeable character with problems everyone can relate to. You don’t have to have been a debutante to have experienced the mortification that comes with a public faux pas, and the difficulties that come with family relationships are pretty universal. Jack has a lot of appeal as a hero, and the relationship between the two is painful and funny, and entirely believable given their history. Carlisle’s relationship with her family forms another important element of the story, and brings a lot of depth to all the characters. The storylines are well balanced and interconnect seamlessly; nothing feels forced.

What I didn’t like: I found Phillip, Carlisle’s intended, a little two dimensional. Though his existence looms large in the storyline, he really only has a walk-on part in the book. Jack’s fiance is much more vivid; as a result I got to know her a little, couldn’t stand her, and would have liked to see the big break up scene up close, rather than just hearing about it. I don’t think that would necessarily have made the book better; it probably just means that I’m not very nice....

Overall: Really enjoyable, both funny and touching. This is the first book I’ve read by Lee, but I will definitely read more.

No comments: