Thursday, March 21, 2013

Adult Fiction Review: Starting Now

Starting Now

Macomber, Debbie. (2013). Starting Now. Australia: Bantam.

[Genre: Woman's Fiction]

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Australia for an advanced reader copy of this title.

Debbie Macomber is back on Blossom Street for the 9th time with Libby Morgan, whose life is unexpectedly turned upside down when she is made redundant instead of made partner in her law firm. Over the past six years she's let everything go for the high-pressure job, including her marriage, her friends and her peace of mind. It's time for Libby Morgan to make a change. . . starting now.

The Blossom Street series is one that you can pull on like a good wool blanket - it's cozy, reliable and warm. Libby Morgan's entry is no different. Even though sometimes you want to bash her over the head for her ability to not see what's in front of her face, Libby is a likable and extremely believable character. She's backed up by a wonderful and varied supporting cast, including the sweet sounding Dr. 'Heart of' Stone, her prosecutor best friend Robin and teenagers Casey and Ava. I definitely enjoyed Macomber's bringing forth of the background characters, so that those that seem minor at the start have storylines in their own right by the end. Macomber also has a real knack for extending the Blossom Street cannon. Although most of the characters in Starting Now are new, and readers new to the series won't feel like they're tripping over characters they know nothing about, there's enough subtle references to old favourites to keep long time readers happy.

Starting Now also continues a trend that keeps me coming back to Blossom Street - it's chick lit that builds solid relationships without relying on sex (though tension is there and well written), while also concentrating on strong female friendships. One of the major storylines is Libby rebuilding her friendship with Robin after years growing apart and it's a joy to watch. The book also tackles a deeper subject than Macomber's usual fare, with a very young teen pregnancy and a better exploration of trauma and grief than we've seen in previous books. It's a development I'm happy to see and makes the book a little bit less like a soap opera than some of her others, though there's still almost unbelievably high-paced tragedy and triumph at every turn.

Starting Now is a truly enjoyable read. I'd even go so far as to say that it's a return to form for the Blossom Street series after some recent weaker offerings (Hannah's List, I'm looking at you). Debbie Macomber returns to her tried and tested strong ensemble cast formula with some writing development that I'm looking forward to seeing more of in future.

4 stars.

Starting Now is released on April 2nd.

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