Embraced by Love, by Suzanne Brockmann (a joint review)

10 Jan

Embraced by Love, by Suzanne Brockmann

(I am in a Suzanne Brockmann kick, have you noticed? Well, what’s a woman to do, when she has written so many of my favorites?)

Embraced by Love is Ms Brockmann’s third published novel, originally released by the now defunct Pinnacle in 1995 and reissued by Ballantine just shy of its ten year anniversary. It is a good thing it was reissued, because for a while it was impossible to find a copy to read. Anyway, I got my s.o. his very own copy, we read it, and here’s our joint review.

But first, the blurb in the reissued version:

Josie and Cooper were one of those couples everyone envied: gorgeous, successful, and so deeply devoted. Even though Josie tended to work too hard, putting in long hours to lift her fledgling company off the ground, and Cooper could be wild and unpredictable, the two complemented each other. It seemed their love would last forever.

But sometimes love just isn’t enough. When a tragic accident leaves Josie and Cooper with two young children to care for, their bond will be tested. Now the pressures of their commanding careers are compounded by the needs of the children, and they find themselves drifting further apart. They will have to work to find the way back to each other, to the incredible passion that was once at the center of their lives—and still burns deep in their hearts…

Issek: I liked the book. I was not crazy about it, but I did like it. You?
azteclady: I like it a lot; don’t know about “crazy” but I like it a lot
I: It was a good, strong story that, for the most part made sense.
a: I like that it was about an established couple. When the “piano” falls, they are already working to make their relationship work, which is not easy. So tell me, what did you like?
I: I liked Josie and Cooper’s back story, the way they met, to start with.
a: Yes, I like the backstory as well, but by the time the book starts, we know they ARE together. We know it “worked out”
I: The piano being a car crash, and Lucy and Ben?
a: Yes, that’s the piano
I: Well, we know it is working, but they do have some rough spots to work through.
a: Indeed they do
I: Even at the beginning of the book, Cooper is resentful of Josie’s workaholism – if that’s a word.
a: They are working at it, but it’s still shaky—which I really like, because no relationship is static. Just like no person remains unchanged by life
I: Right, they are feeling their way through their situation, sort of making it up as they go along, like everyone else does.
a: Yes, I agree, he’s resentful—yet he is also willing to work around it (to compromise) in order to keep the larger picture (their relationship) workable.
I: He is the one—he is always the one—who comes up with the compromises, the solutions. Josie… not so much.
a: Yes, agreed. Then again, she’s the one with larger personal baggage from the beginning. While they are both driven and have demanding careers, he is much more laid back about life in general, while she has these huge terrors to battle every waking moment of every day.
I: Yes, and that’s all right, not everybody is Ralph Bunche (or Max Bhagat) [character from the Troubleshooters series, introduced in The Unsung Hero]
a: okay… how did Max come up in this one?
I: I’m trying to think of famous negotiators, and Bunche is the only real person I could come up with off the top of my head – hence Max.
a: Thanks for the tie back to Ms Brockmann’s oeuvre
I: A pleasure. Did the courtship phase of Cooper and Josie’s relationship seem out of sync with their marriage?
a: *blink* How so?
I: Before they got married, they went out dancing a lot… loved spending late nights together… After they wed… they—or just she—slowly lost the impulse to do impulsive things. Mostly dampened by Josie’s driven nature.
a: Ah, I see your point! But you may remember that only during “crises” did they stop going out, etc.—and even during the big crisis over the Fenderson contract, Cooper found a way to maximize their time together (and they start going out dancing, etc. again)
I: Only somewhat, and I did feel that Cooper was resentful, and for a reason. Or maybe he just knew that he had to keep Josie from slipping into bad habits.
a: Bingo! I felt that, from the beginning, he knew he had to consciously fight her sliding back into workaholism
I: Yes. And he did what he could, but events conspired against him.
a: And the piano fell over their heads…
I: Squashed them flat for a while. By the way… Have you ever known two adults quite as woefully inadequate in the very basics of child care as them?
a: Yes. Me, for one :grin:
I: I doubt you ever put a child to bed wearing a wet diaper.
a: *keeping mouth shut*
I: *laughing*
a: But hey, remember that I had my mother spend the first four weeks with me, while Josie had NO ONE, and Cooper even less than that
I: Josie had Cooper—and he wasn’t too knowledgeable, either.
a: So…back to my point.
I: Yes?
a: They both were woefully inadequate and without anyone to help them learn except, you know…the kids themselves.
I: Right, but they did seem to be awfully slow learners, to me leastways.
a: You amazing daddy you—but not all of us are born parents, you know.
I: I don’t want to beat a mortally wounded, probably already on its last legs, horse, but it seems to me that intelligent people such as these two are should have picked up a little more of the basics than they did. And they should have learned the things they did learn a little quicker. But, hey, that’s just me, and let’s move to another topic. Another topic such as: I didn’t expect both of them to be—at first—quite as resistant as they are to the idea of raising her brother’s children. I thought the conflict would be one of them falling in love with the kids at first sight, and the other having to be sold on the idea for the rest of the book. But I’m sure that’s been done before.
a: Everything has been done before and you’ll notice that yes, Coop falls for Lucy immediately
I: Everybody should have fallen for Lucy immediately.
a: The conflict doesn’t start with the kids; the conflict is Josie’s obsession with her company and her fears
I: I know, her obsession about working so hard because only she can prevent the potential disaster from happening, whatever it turns out to be
a: She’s obsessed with work, and already Cooper does all sorts of contortions to keep their relationship going *sans* kids then *bam* kids with special emotional and physical needs
I: I got the point about her mother causing her to dread the idea of being stuck in a small, nowheresville, town but the work ‘til you drop stuff, that wasn’t given as good a foundation
a: Her personality; she has an obsessive personality and catastrophic thinking. There’s no *rationale* for it, it just is. There is a conversation with Coop where he shows Josie how *absurd* her fears AND behaviour are, and yet she can’t just “get over” them.
I: The kids had special needs, but they, thankfully, turn out to be pretty normal even if Lucy’s a budding Rembrandt
a: Lucy: isn’t she a GREAT character?
I: Catastrophic thinking: she has no control over that, but she makes an effort, three or four times in the story. Lucy is great!
a: Effort: yes, but it’s not enough unless it’s sustained AND with professional help
I: She backslides the second she leaves the therapist, or at least it felt that way
a: Yes, because she’s not yet convinced of the *necessity* of sticking with therapy, until she’s risking losing Cooper, AND the kids she wasn’t sure she wanted
I: Right, the old “I” don’t have a problem with working hard, why should you?
a: Not quite, more like, “we always solve these bumps”
I: hmmmmm
a: Without ever owning to the fact that COOPER solves the issues
I: Maybe. Until Cooper gets tired of he and the children being after-thoughts
a: YES exactly!
I: It’s not very flattering to hear “I got so tied up with work I just forgot to call you”
a: Not just not flattering, but disheartening when it’s night after night after night
I: YES!!! Anyway, let’s try to wrap this up if we can. Suffice it to say they work out their problems – did you find the resolution convincing?
a: I buy the resolution though it’s by not means the end of the issues they must work on.
I: That’s right; I think they have a lot of hard work ahead of them.
a: How would you grade this early novel by Ms Brockmann?
I: Personally, I give it a 7.25. You?
a: Well, I like it better than you did, even though I see most of its issues the same way you do, so it’s a 7.50 for me.

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