I’m going to come right out and say it: I do not like Liz Stolz in this book. And I’m not sure I like Lucy as much as I did in the previous ones (more on that below). Or any of the characters, to be honest.
I’ve been categorizing these books as romance novels individually, but as a series, they’re more like chronicles of a small town by the sea. And because of that, it doesn’t really matter when I don’t enjoy one as much as the others. They’re an accurate reflection of life and interactions with and between people. I don’t always like everyone in real life either. And that’s fine.
In this instalment of the Hobbs series, Liz and the town try to find their new normal in a world upset by the corona pandemic. Liz recommends one of her friends, Sam McKinnon, for a renovation job at Olivia Enright’s house. Olivia is neither loved nor respected in Hobbs, where her bluntness, right-wing views and what seems to be entitlement do not mix well with the group of friends we’ve come to know and love. Of course, there’s a lot more to Olivia than meets the eye, as Sam, Liz, Lucy and the others will come to see.
I love Mother Lucy. When she first arrived in Hobbs, I fell hard for her. As I’ve written many times, she’s the sexiest priest ever. I like her complexity, I like that she’s a former opera singer, I like that she’s kind and loving and gives sound advice. But I like her as a side character – except in This Is My Body, obviously. She’s taking too much space in the Hobbs books lately. Or rather religion is taking too much space. At least in the first part of this one. When an event occurring between Liz and Lucy shifted the focus back to the human, the woman, away from the priest, I let out a sigh of relief.
Elena Graf writes characters – older characters, in their fifties or their sixties – with depth and layers. They’re complex, they’re flawed, but they also have morals and try to find some sort of joy in a messed-up world. I do not agree with some of what they say or think but kudos to the author for tackling sensitive issues – police brutality for instance – and for making her characters discuss them. I do not think both sides are valid in all debates (I do not believe human rights are debatable) but when these talks happen between basically good people, I try to see them more as fighting ignorance than as debates. Graf manages to avoid lecturing and makes the discussions sound genuine.
One last thing: my friend Corrie Kuipers designed the cover, and it always makes me happy when my friends do cool things, so I thought I’d mention it.