Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh, Happy Day, You're . . . Still The One by Lena Matthews

Creigh and Dean De Luca have perfected the art of living Happily Even After. With a new baby and two rambunctious preteens, life in the De Luca household is never dull...or quiet, which doesn't leave the two lovebirds much time to be alone.

Their love for one another is stronger than ever. Their love life on the other hand has seen better days. Sex has become routine and predictable, and more often than not is nothing more than a quickie between late night feedings.

Unwilling to let the spark go out of their relationship a second time, Dean goes all out for Valentine's Day. He's booked the best room the city has to offer, he's ordered Creigh's favorite wine and he's made one rule. For the next twenty-two hours her body belongs solely to him.

Oh, the joy of parenthood. Oh, the drudge of night feedings! Oh, the feelings that you are living in a house of madness with all these kids, diapers, and the bone-deep weariness that just never seems to go away! I can recall similar experiences when hubby and I were birthing our brood--he would roll over in bed, look at me for a moment and say, "You look familiar . . . I guess I have the right wife." We both knew that we just hadn't had much time or energy to be anything other than mommy & daddy for a long time.

Such was the situation in the De Luca household. Dean and Creigh had reconciled and remarried, much to the delight of their perspective families and their children. Shortly afterward Creigh's daughter Halla (meaning "unexpected gift") had arrived and their the days of hot romance and hotter bedroom games was over. Dean has a new job--a partnership with his two brothers in their bar which has been expanded and which takes lots of Dean's time and energy, far more than his previous 9 to 5 job ever did. Add in the craziness of a newborn, breast-feeding, a pre-teen who is beginning to light up over boys, etc., and you can almost feel the frustration Creigh and Dean are experiencing in their relationship. In fact, Dean tells Creigh that he is almost "quickied" out.

This novella is a delightful sequel to Happily Even After and part of its charm is that the reader can continue to experience this wonderful, realistic, and contemporary family. Creigh is a business owner in her own right, but she is a new mother who now takes her baby with her to work because she is breast-feeding. She and Dean are working hard to make this new experience work, both being determined that this second time around will be truly " . . . 'til death do us part." Yet she also is beginning to wonder if she and Dean will ever have a chance to "reconnect" romantically any time soon.

One of the qualities about Lena Matthews' writing is the relentless presence of reality in her stories. And this novella is a case in point. It never backs away from the truth within which so many couples must exist--that parenthood is great on so many levels, but it can make cause a lot of stresses that are often difficult to overcome. In this novella Dean's deep love and never-failing sense of wonder over being Creigh's husband triumphs. He knows that they must have their own "together" time and he chooses Valentine's Day to make that happen. It is a very romantic, erotic interlude in the reality of their lives, but out of it comes the mutual determination that they don't dare cheat themselves out of regular time to nurture their relationship.

Dean is a man who has figured out that living in his present circumstances isn't easy, but living apart from Creigh just isn't an option. Putting up with the limited time they have for each other may be difficult, but he has no doubt that their circumstances will change as the "new baby" stresses slowly become a thing of the past. In the midst of his patient resolve to somehow get through the next couple of years, he discovers the depth of support from his family that he had failed to utilize in the past. He is just a really neat guy in so many ways. Creigh, too, is a woman of depth and resilience, a person whose heart is full to overflowing with love for her man and her kids, even in the midst of her distress over the present situation. These are two really special people, yet on the other hand, they are like so many people who live this kind of life every day. That's probably why I like this novella so well. And I appreciate Matthews' effort in bringing us this kind of "epilogue" to Creigh and Dean's story.

I think you'll appreciate this little work. Be sure to read the preceding novel and you'll enjoy it even more. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

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