Friday, March 10, 2023

Love on the Run, by Suzie Tullett

Bloodhound Books, March 2023

Divorced mother of teenaged twins Hannah imagines a blissfully relaxed month on her own, while twins Beth and Archie go on a vacation in France with ex-husband Carl and his new girlfriend, Monica. She's even taken the month off from her job to fully enjoy it.

She spends the first week cleaning and grocery shopping, and has a scarily clean house, more food than she'll be able to use before it goes bad, and nothing to do. Her friends, Liv and Mel, coax her into signing up for a charity "fun run," a 5K. She almost immediately regrets it, but it's not easy to back out.

Her mother bulldozes her into taking her Aunt Dorothy for a few weeks, because she's lonely and depressed with the recent death of her husband, Denis, and Janice (Hannah's mother) currently has her house in an uproar with renovations. Hannah has time on her hands... Hannah flatly refuses.

Then she accidentally runs into a guy named. Literally runs into. Twice. The first time, she hurts her ankle. Second time, they both get scraped and bruised. The first time, Gabe helps her home, and they get there to find Janice and Dorothy have just arrived, and of course are inside.

Hannah's fate is sealed, in so many ways. The one she's absolutely not going to succumb to is the suggestion that she and Gabe would make a nice couple.

Hannah and her friends commit to the "fun run," and Dorothy becomes their "team leader." Liv's boyfriend, Quentin, says he has a friend who's a personal trainer, and might willing to work with them. Of course it turns out to be Gabe, and Hannah is in for a month of pressure from her friends, Dorothy, and her own hormones.

Meanwhile, her friends have challenges of their own. Liv's boyfriend, Quentin, is a vegetarian; she's a meat-eating farm girl. He's encouraging her to get involved in some of his climate change activism. Mel's boyfriend, Russel--well, she's never actually met Russel, except online. Her friends are worried for the obvious and sensible reasons.

In France, the kids are learning and growing, but they're always astonished, when Hannah during their video calls, turns out to know things they had no idea she knew. Which is basically, anything not related to being a mother. Monica is proving to be a remarkably positive influence on the children, and possibly Carl. After the last ten years of Carl's revolving girlfriends, she finds herself actually liking this one.

These are fun, likeable characters, with strengths and weaknesses and a willingness to grow and learn. Dorothy is a hoot and a joy, and Gabe's father, Roger, though we see less of him, is also wonderful.

Hannah gradually realizes she needs to stop being a full-time mom, and uncover her own identity again.

It's just a lot of fun.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources.

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