Fanning tugs at emotions from the opening pages showing Silas, a broken man severely down on his luck and anxious about reaching out to his son, and Ellen, who is still reeling from her Lupus diagnosis. They meet aboard the MS Viking after Ellen mistakenly buys tickets for the gay cruise and literally falls into his arms. The budding romance often takes a backseat to the mayhem aboard the ship and complicated but engaging relationships among crew members and other passengers, like Patrick and Kathy Lucey, a brother and sister duo who bicker incessantly.
Fanning has weaved a tale that has it all—romance, humor, drama, mystery, and suspense. Despite Silas and Ellen having a lot in common and enjoying each other’s company, their relationship doesn’t really power a story that instead has at its heart friendships and family bonds. Fanning’s prose and dialogue are crisp, brisk, and incisive, and the characterization is strong in this novel that’s ideal for readers who love diverse casts, surprising connections, and healing relationships, with much comic complication.
Takeaway: Emotional story of healing relationships and being there for the ones we love.
Comparable Titles: Stephen McCauley’s My Ex-Life, Audra North’s Midlife Crisis.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-