Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU
Free On KU

Fire and Water by Amanda Kayhart


At fifty, Diane Hollenbeck’s relationship ends in divorce after having been with her partner (and later wife) for twenty years. Diane has some close and supportive friends and a dream of writing a book. Fortunately for her, she teaches in a college and has vacation so she takes up a friend’s offer to use her cabin in Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain – the perfect place to write. Diane’s arrival to the small town is marked by running into a rude, tattooed woman who ignites Diane’s interest on sight (despite her rudeness). Turns out that the rude person is Michelle St. Gelais, Diane’s new neighbour. The next meeting between the two women also doesn’t go well but Micelle gets into Diane’s head and Diane sets out to make peace with her neighbour via amazing pies.

This is Diane’s story. The story of someone who has been cast adrift in life in her middle age. The toll of a bad relationship which systematically chipped away at Diane’s confidence is evident in many ways – like, Michelle is downright rude and nasty to Diane in their first few interactions but not only does Diane find something to blame in herself, she is the one who decides to make peace and reaches out with a peace offering more than once.

More disturbingly is the whole episode with her best friend Maureen, an interior designer. Maureen flies to spend a weekend with Diane. Diane has spoken to Maureen about Michelle confessing that she maybe attracted to Michelle. On the day Maureen visits, the two friends are out and run into Michelle in a local artisan’s market. Maureen forces Diane to work on a centrepiece for a restaurant that Maureen is working on despite Diane repeatedly trying to avoid it during the conversation. After that, for the rest of the day Diane is understandably not happy. At the end of the day, Maureen lashes out at Diane who apologises repeatedly and takes full blame. This is an upsetting reality in life. Someone behaves badly and the recipient of the bad behaviour reacts – and voila! the person reacting is coloured the bad guy. (BTW, Maureen did that whole forcing Diane and Michelle to work together thing for “shits and laughs” which makes her a very poor friend to have.) At least in the flow of this book it goes with Diane’s seriously damaged self-confidence and self-worth.

Despite all her self-effacing-ness and needing to please, Diane doesn’t come across as a total doormat. She is quite likeable. You feel bad for her and feel sorry for what life has done to her but you also admire her spirit and willingness to keep on trying and moving on.

We didn’t particularly like Michelle despite the fact that as the book progresses she has more heart than just the nasty exterior presented in the beginning. In fact, the way she deals with Diane when the latter brings up the fact she needs to go back home to Florida was entirely immature and hurtful.

There are grand gestures from both (bigger from Diane who totally upends her life) towards the end.

This is an age-gap romance (more than a decade between the MCs) but there is just one scene where it is mentioned (a dialogue between the two the morning after their first time together). So that is not really the focus.

The best thing about this book is that in the end, you believe that this relationship is going to last – something that is always what we want in a romance.        


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