Forty-four year-old Maggie McLaurin's father left her the house in Atlanta when he died. Though she lives and works in Manhattan, she's struggling to hold on to the house for her mother, who's doctors say a move would likely exacerbate her Alzheimers. However, the property taxes are climbing while home prices around the country decline and the house is slowly falling apart. When Maggie discovers her mother's doctors will cease to accept Medicaid and she goes into a financial panic. Then she's laid off.
When an ex-boyfriend then offers her her dream job, she takes it against her fiancee's wishes, sure it will save all her problems, but her problems are only just beginning.
A classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover", Loved Me Once was a surprisingly good read. Neither the cover art, nor the book synopsis fully do this well-written story justice. "A Novel of Love, Romance and Business" however, is a wonderful description, as I sit here struggling to find a word to describe it. This is not a "romance" novel. There is romance indeed, but it's not the focus of the story. Nor is the financial troubles Maggie works her way through. Refreshingly, this reads as a true to life look at a woman of today, working, loving and living her life in the best way she can.
There are, of course, some fantastical elements. The romance is a bit over the top and most women aren't given jobs where they're suddenly able to employ a personal shopper and fill their closet with designer labels; but, Maggie herself felt real to me. The author, Gail Hewitt, managed to avoid the pitfall I've been noticing with a lot of books recently of drama for drama's sake. Maggie never over reacts to a situation, she reasons things out rationally and her conclusions generally make sense, though I don't necessarily agree with all of them. All the characters are flawed, but inherently likable, the dialogue is realistic for the most part and never felt clunky and the prose was good.
I'd recommend Loved Me Once to anyone who likes their characters real and their situations slightly heightened. It would make a perfect beach or airplane read this summer. I find myself looking forward the the sequel, Love Me Now and the further exploits of Maggie (and the men in her life) but mostly Maggie.
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