The Heroine: Julia Dunhill, a practical and hard-working party planner in Washington, D.C. Julia began life as the daughter of a broke gambling addict in small-town West Virginia; however, her fortunes change (literally) when Michael, her high school sweetheart's, vitamin drink company catapults the couple into millions. Julia has everything from a Jaguar to a jewelry collection worth six figures, but she is forced to examine her deteriorating marriage to Michael when a near-death experience causes him to create drastic changes to their life. Is money more valuable than love? Or is it true that you can't buy happiness?
The Highs: This novel surprised me over and over again, which can be a difficult to find for a reader who has read it all. While I was expecting Julia to be a shallow trophy wife and Michael to be a selfish and domineering egotist, I was shocked to find that their characters were extremely complex, deep and three-dimensional; there is not a single stereotype employed in the book (except for perhaps the minor character of Roxanne). The author managed to navigate the world of the rich and famous with surprising realism, seamlessly moving from the couple's private mansion to a rundown house in West Virginia without losing the down-to-earth feeling of the story.
I love Sarah Pekkanen's use of suspense. The story unfolds slowly and beautifully, revealing new layers of the plot just when you think you know everything. I'm extremely impressed by the impeccable timing and the complexity of the layers. It also provides the reader with a thorough understanding of who the characters are and the motivations that drive them; knowing their back story defines Julia and Michael and gives it that added sense of realism. The element of suspense kept me turning the pages long into the night!
I also found that I was fooled by the plot summary presented on the inside cover of the book; the story is presented as (rather shallowly) a woman's struggle to keep her money, while it is really a much deeper story examining the intricacies of marriage. This novel was about delving into the past's effect on the present and following the course of every small decision made by Julia and Michael that brought them to the moment of Micheal's near-death. I was jerked through every emotion, from joy to the brink of tears, and upon turning the last page, I was inspired to reach over to my boyfriend and hold him close. This one's a tear-jerker!
The Lows: I felt a great dislike for Julia at certain moments, though reading about her past did help to validate some of her emotions and actions towards her husband. I suppose I am a bit of a softie, so I found it hard to digest how cold-hearted she could be.
I also wish there would have been more about Julia and Micheal's relationship as teenagers, as well as more romantic moments as they re-evaluate their marriage. I know I am a hopeless romantic, but for a love story, I found it remarkably devoid of tender moments. I feel like the story could have used more "soft" scenes to balance out to roughness of Julia's emotional journey. It also would have made the ending more dramatic – though its already quite a stunner!
Final Thoughts: Skipping A Beat is a great book for anyone who believes that the power of love can conquer all.
Rating: Skipping A Beat earns seven tubs of chocolate ice cream out of ten.
Buy 'Skipping A Beat' on Amazon here
Connect to author Sarah Pekkanen here
Photo from here