I really like the idea of a woman and her mother in law helping each other deal with cheating husbands and divorce, but I guess I was expecting a bit more out of A Girl’s Guide to Moving On. From the book description, I was looking forward to a lot of female bonding and self-empowerment, so I admit I was a bit disappointed that in both their cases, moving on turned out to mean finding a new man. A new romance is certainly a valid way to move on from a destructive relationship, and both romances were certainly entertaining to read about. It’s just that there’s this excellent line early in the book where Leanne notes that for a man to take the place of having no man, that man sure as hell better be worth it. Yet while there’s a glimpse in the beginning of the novel to the “Guide to Moving On” that both women penned, we barely get to know Step One (out of four) before the story shifts focus onto the developing romances. I don’t think I can even remember what the other three steps were.
That being said, the romances were entertaining to read, and as a romance fan, I really enjoyed the sweet, low-key chemistry between Nichole and the tow truck driver Rocco, who is the opposite of her ex-husband Jake in many ways. I love how Nichole bonds with Rocco’s teenage daughter, taking on a maternal role even when she and Rocco were still just friends, and how Rocco bonds with Nichole’s young son over a love for trucks. It’s a sweet story, and Rocco seems like a great guy.
I really wanted to like Leanne’s new man Nikolai, a student in her ESL class, but while he seems sweet (he bakes her bread every week), his jealousy and controlling nature also struck me the wrong way. For example, he freaks out when Leanne takes her ex-husband home from a doctor’s appointment and tidies up his house for him. I can understand Nikolai’s concern that Leanne’s ex is taking advantage of her, but I don’t like how he constrains her behaviour, and to my mind, he barely makes up for it near the end, when he does give her a bit more space. At one point, he even tells her to wait in the car while he talks to her husband for her, and while there are circumstances where I can see that making sense, in this case, it mostly felt like he didn’t trust her enough to let her speak for herself. The whole white knight thing appears to be something the book posits as romantic; even Rocco goes behind Nichole’s back to talk to her ex and resolve an issue, and while in both cases, things turned out well, it’s not really something that turns me on personally, or at least seems to me to be necessary within the context of this story.
Still, both romances were fun and sweet, and I enjoyed seeing Nichole and Leanne realize they were worth far more than their cheating exes made them feel. I especially love the family unit Nichole, Rocco and their kids created, and how well they all fit together. Leanne is a wonderful character, and while Nikolai isn’t personally my cup of tea, I’m glad she is able to find passion again with him, having been deprived of it and made to feel un-sexual for so long. I’m a huge fan of Debbie Macomber’s romances, and while I don’t think this will be one of my personal favourites, I think others may enjoy it, and I look forward to continuing to read more of her work.
Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.