Thursday, September 27, 2012

Live, Love, and Laugh . . . "Opposites Attract" by Cat Johnson

A three-part lighthearted romp through the intertwining lives of six people who learn that in spite of everything you have to remember to live, love and laugh to be happy.

 Taking A Leap: Bradley Morgan is the quintessential computer geek and nice guy, through and through. The only problem is that in his opinion, nice guys almost always finish last when it comes to hot women like his sexy co-worker Alyssa Jones. But things change after Alyssa finds her boyfriend cheating. Suddenly, nice guys like Brad don't look so bad. So when Brad agrees to ghostwrite the sex scenes for a romance novel as a favor for desperate client Maria White and asks for Alyssa's help after hours, she agrees wholeheartedly and things really start to heat up. Brad and Alyssa learn you should never judge a book by its cover, and that sometimes love requires a leap of faith.

 Light My Fire: Amy Gerald's life is filled with whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, it's all on the pages of the romance novels she publishes. That is until she volunteers to cat-sit for her author friend Maria and meets Troy O'Donnell, the hunky fireman who lives next door. The problem is, this commitment-phobic consummate bachelor is far more willing to run into a burning building than allow love into his life. Troy will grasp at any excuse, even the ridiculous assumption that Amy is a lesbian, just to avoid his growing feelings for her. Amid a comedy of errors and misunderstandings, which includes Troy's first hilarious visit to a gay bar, Amy manages to light Troy's fire, but can she also conquer his fears? 

Second Time Around: Antonio Sanchez thought that at 32 his life was all mapped out--wife, kids, career...until some major bumps in theroad radically alter his course and send him careening right into the path of newly divorced Maddie Morgan. Suddenly thrust back into single life, Antonio moves back in with his old-fashioned parents and has to learn to juggle his kids, his job at the firehouse, and his role as Best Man for his newly engaged best friend Troy, all in addition to facing his unquenchable desire for Maddie. Throw in a slew of matchmaking friends and relatives, led by Maria whose apartment appears to be the Bermuda Triangle for lost lovers, and Antonio and Maddie discover just how complicated things can get. Can the pair prove that love really is better the second time around?

I hadn't read a Cat Johnson work for some time when I came across this book and decided that I need a "fix" for my Cat Johnson yen.  She has been one of my favorites for a long time and I am delighted to find this trilogy of short stories that was first released in 2007 and has now been updated and re-releasedin 2011.  

Unlike some anthologies, these stories are not only linked by theme but also are connected through the friendships and professional associations of the characters.  While each story has its own focus, all of these people seem to be stuck in some way in their personal lives, either by their own self-awareness and their sense of being "less than" or are caught in a life situation that can get complicated and often overwhelming.  

In the first story you have a young man whose self-image as a "geek" has kept him from reaching out, of exploring his relational possibilities.    Fear of being rejected for who he is, for his interests that he doesn't think would be of much interest to a sexy woman have kept him locked into a single and lonely life.  Fear can do that.  But the author sets him up in a situation that allows him to explore his sexuality in a way that gives him hiddenness while putting him in contact with a woman in such a way that both he and Alyssa discover that it is always a mistake to judge someone by external appearance or occupation. 

Story Two highlights the problem of a man who would rather eat glass than get involved in a committed relationship.  All of us know someone who has had a bad experience or whose exposure to the experiences of pals has convinced him that staying single, footloose and fancy free is really the best way to live.  Troy does indeed carry his fears a bit far, but in truth, this is a very insightful look at the way some people get stuck when down deep they really want to move forward with their lives.

The Third Story is a common enough situation, especially when 57% of American marriages end in divorce.  (For hubby and me, even at the darkest and most difficult times in our marriage, it seemed easier to "fix" the marriage problems than face the complications and difficulties a divorce would bring.)  And as it was with Anthony, life gets complicated very quickly when one does not pay attention to one's relationships and allows one's partner to become distanced.  Anthony really wasn't prepared for the single life, didn't see that divorce coming at all.  And like so many who really don't want to be alone, he found that moving on with his life was more difficult than he ever dreamed it could be.  

All these stories are fun love stories and in characteristic Cat Johnson fashion  are filled with love and under-the-covers kind of "getting it on."  But there is a deeper set of truths in these stories that make this a fun book to read on the one hand, and on the other it is a fictional look at real life problems that plague many male-female relationships.    It's a book that is well worth taking another look at and one that will be entertaining as well as thought-provoking.  I think you will enjoy it, especially if you have read other Cat Johnson books.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

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