Friday, September 10, 2010
Review: Lost and Found by Katie Jamieson
Krissa has always been the responsible one. Driven to fulfill her mother's abandoned dreams, to make her husband Derek happy. She has brought that single-minded determination to the one dream she has for herself--a child. Except she and Derek can't conceive, and Derek refuses to consider using a stranger's sperm. The result? Guilt that her desperation is causing their marital rift.
The last thing they need is a long-term house guest, but Derek's best friend Nate, a nomadic phootographer recovering from a career-threatening eye disorder, has nowhere else to go. Nate thought his friends' home would be a temporary haven from the grief that has dogged his heels since his wife died. Instead he is in the middle of a marriage in meltdown. Soon their friendship develops an underlying hum of forbidden sexual tension. When Krissa proposes a wild idea--that Naste be their sperm donor--Derek has an even wilder proposal: bypass the fertility clinic and accept Nat's donation straight from the source.
At first Krissa believes she is on the fast track to having her dream. But it quickly becomes clear that when the heart gets involved, and secrets are revealed, the simplest of arrangements can become entangled beyond belief. . . or repair.
This is another very good novel from Kelly Jamieson and is a contemporary look-see into the workings of an upscale Southern California suburban couple living "the life." With a mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean near beautiful Santa Barbara (and it really is beautiful there), with successful careers that put both Krissa and Derek into the business fast lane, these two are the envy of many. Yet their marriage is in very real trouble. Their efforts to have a baby--something Krissa doesn't think she can live without and which Derek has a rather ho-hum attitude toward--have put severe strains on their relationship. The efforts toward procreation have cost them intimacy and Krissa's single-minded determination to achieve this greatest of all desires has overshadowed nearly everything in the couple's life.
Krissa is woman who will do whatever it takes to make the people in her life happy--even if it means taking responsibility for their unhappiness. She is giving and vital, creative and hard-working, seeking to be a successful business woman as well as keeping a spotless home and being a great cook. The news that Derek is sterile devastates her. Her grief is made even more upending when she hears from Derek that he will not adopt nor accept a child from an anonymous donor. Now what can Krissa do?
Derek's character seems OK at first, but as the novel progresses, his weakness and self-centered thinking begins to "shine through." He uses almost any excuse to "do his own thing" and while he seems to be honestly in love with his wife, he demonstrates that love only when it is convenient for him. He appears to welcome his best friend from college, yet he really doesn't go out of his way to be very welcoming. That he leaves to Krissa.
Nate is troubled and still reeling from the death of his wife and unborn child two years earlier. Yet there is something "off" in his continuing emotional separation from friends and family. He is only at Krissa & Derek's home because he needs a neutral place to recover from a case of botulism that has affected his eyesight. It is a slow healing and thus Nate is in this home for weeks. Then he is invited to be the "sperm donor" for Krissa & Derek--an awkward situation at best.
Ms Jamieson has dealt with the issues very well here, IMHO. The strains in the marriage are evident almost from the first when Derek finds out he is sterile, leaves the doctor's office, disappears for hours, comes home drunk, smelling of perfume and cigarettes. There is no thought on his part that Krissa is also in emotional pain. Somehow Derek's hurts always take precedence. We are also aware that there is a growing attraction between Nate and Krissa--Nate can see so much that is being "stuffed" down by Krissa as Derek rides rough shod over her dreams, feelings, and efforts to make the marriage work. The story moves along -- there are no dead spots in this telling. From time to time I did get a bit weary with the internal dialogue on the part of a couple of the characters, but I recognize that there are some weighty issues being considered here and thus people are perhaps more introspective than in a light-hearted romance scenario. All the characters have the touch of authenticity and each is unique in their own way. I almost had a feeling that they were iconic--that each was representative of a type of person we probably all know. Thus, this circle of friends and family are truly representative of an entire slice of culture and living.
Ms Jamieson also has built some twists and turns into the story, some of which are truly a surprise. They were the sort where we would usually respond: "OMG, I wasn't prepared for that!" The ending will please most of the readers, but I think the author used creativity in getting the reader through the conflict to the story's conclusion. There are some great love scenes and the threesome that exists for a couple of weeks between Krissa, Nate, & Derek is very erotic. But there are "lows" here, too. Tears, betrayal, disappointment, grieving--all make an appearance.
So this is not your "pie in the sky by and by" kind of love story. There are troubled people seeking some sort of positive direction for their lives. How they manage and whether or not they are successful is the stuff at the core of this story. I can't tell you why--can't put my finger on the specific quality that I liked so well about this book. It just comes together so well and I think the author accomplished what she set out to do. I can't believe there isn't a romance fan "out there" that won't love this novel. I give it a rating of 5 out of 5.