Catherine Daye likes her quiet, post-military life. She farms, does some financial advising on the side, and spends plenty of time with her close friend and neighbour, Becki, and Becki’s eleven-year-old daughter, Gabe. As long as she can keep her flashbacks and nightmares about the desert at bay, things are good.
Autumn Swan might only be twenty-five, but already she’s on track to be a heavy hitter in the Atlanta digital marketing scene. She and her business are poised to hit the next level just as she gets the news that her cousin, Becki, has died and that she needs to head back to the small town where she’d spent summers with Becki and their grandmother.
Becki’s will leaves Autumn and Cat flummoxed since they’re given shared custody of Gabe. Not only do they not know each other, but they couldn’t be less alike and, oh yeah, they live in two different places. Can the three of them make things work as a family? And can Cat and Autumn find something lasting in the attraction that springs between them?
I liked the dynamic between Autumn, Cat, and Gabe as they figure out their new normal and how their family unit will operate, especially given how different Autumn and Cat are. All three of the characters are believable and relatable, and I enjoyed seeing them all change and grow so they can fit together.
The Writing Style
D. Jackson Leigh knows how to write great romance, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed this one. It’s easy to get into and it has a lovely happily ever after.
The more books I listen to with Hollis Elizabeth as a narrator, the more I like her. She did a great job with this one, differentiating the voices well and bringing the right kind of tension in whenever it’s needed.
More than anything, I loved the interrogation of family, whether it’s family of blood or of choice. That was handled especially well and in multiple scenarios, whether it’s about Cat, Gabe, and Autumn forming their new family, Autumn’s family of choice with her coworkers, or her strained relationship with the family she was born in.
There’s a whole thing to do with cannabis that didn’t really work for me because it felt a bit like “a very special episode…” that’s intended to educate readers. I’m not against cannabis (as a Canadian, I think it was sensible that our government legalized it, but that’s a conversation for another day), I just wonder if it could have been dialled back a bit because some of that felt heavy handed.
Do you like age gap pairings, opposites attract, small town settings, butch/femme couples, and found family? If so, you’ll want to pick up Ordinary is Perfect. It’s a sweet story and I especially recommend getting it in audio.
Excerpt from Ordinary is Perfect by D Jackson Leigh
Catherine turned to step into her short barn boots resting in the muck tray just inside the door, but before she could, her cell phone began to ring, and she ran for the bedroom instead. Nerves still drawn taut from her flashback, she swore. “Damn it. Who in blue blazes is calling this early?” Sliding to a stop in her wool socks, Catherine snatched her phone on the third ring.
“Cat. You gotta…something’s wrong with Mama. She fell down…I can’t get her to talk.” Gabriella’s words were choked and desperate. “I don’t know what to do. You gotta come.”
“I’m on my way, Gabe. Did you call 911?” Catherine hurried back to the door, slipped on her boots while she talked, then grabbed her truck keys. Unlike Elvis, she wasn’t going to traipse through dark fields and woods.
“They’re here. Elvis is barking at ’em.”
Catherine climbed into her Ford pickup and slapped the phone onto its magnetic dock to free her hands, changing it to speaker. “Go get Elvis and show them where your mom is so they can help her.” The truck bounced and swayed as she raced down the long packed-clay drive without regard to the potholes the cold and snowy winter had left.
“Don’t hang up.”
Catherine clenched her jaw against the panic in Gabriella’s voice, the same fear she’d heard in the boy soldiers’ dying pleas for her to stay with them while they took their last breaths. “I won’t, Gabe. I’ll listen while you talk to them.”
She slammed to a stop and jumped out to open the gate exiting her property, drove through it, then jumped out again to close it. Cursing her procrastination about installing an automatic gate wouldn’t help now. She stomped on the accelerator. All she could hear was muffled conversation on Gabe’s end, but she could see the flash of the ambulance lights reflecting like strobes off the trees across the road from Becki and Gabe’s house.
“No, no. I won’t.” Gabe’s frantic shouts rang out over the phone’s speaker.
Catherine whipped her truck into Becki’s drive and slid to a stop next to the ambulance. The front door stood open, and Elvis ran out to meet her, still barking furiously. Catherine’s feet had barely touched the porch when he dashed back inside, and she followed.
Elvis stopped at the mouth of the hallway that led to the bedrooms, loud banging now punctuating his barks. Gabe was trying to kick in the closed door of her mother’s bedroom. She put her hand on his head. “Elvis, quiet.” A few long strides and she wrapped her arms around Gabe. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
“They won’t let me in there with Mama.” Gabriella struggled out of Catherine’s embrace, kicked the door again, and yelled. “She’s MY mother.”
Catherine wrapped her arms around Gabe again, but this time she lifted the girl off her feet to hold her back. “Don’t do that. You’re going to hurt your foot.” She could hear the urgent exchange between two paramedics and the information they were transmitting to the hospital as they went through the resuscitation protocol. Her heart sank. Oh, Becki.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781635552805
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
Narrator: Hollis Elizabeth
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