Mai Tai Butterfly by JoAnn Bassett
I love the first line of this book," My life ended with a letter bomb. It made for a quick exit--like a magician's trick: now you see her, now you don't. The limb-from-limb pain came later."
There's no doubt that Nola's twenty-five year marriage has subsided into compromise and boredom. Then she opens a correspondence from a florist meant for her husband and gets the surprise of her life. Yes, he's cheating--with another man. Which, as awful as it sounds, is also funny... well, it is when this author writes it.
Nola grabs an offer by her friend, Malia, to fly to Maui for her father's birthday celebration. And what starts out as a one week getaway, becomes a Maui transformation from Nola the caterpillar to Noelani the butterfly. She loses weight, gets tanned, healthy and in the process, learns how to stand on her own two feet. There's a pivotal scene in which Noelani says it just right, "Something stirred in me that I hadn't sensed in a long time. If I'd been home in Seattle I might have pegged it as fear. It felt a little like fear--dangerous, jumpy, with a dash of suspense. But I was pretty sure it wasn't fear because I didn't feel on whit of shame or weakness." And then, "I identified the feeling--it was courage." There's nothing better than a woman who finally gets it, right?
Of course, the path isn't straight, and Nola backslides, making this reader squirm and say, "Don't! Don't take that bastard back!" (Been there, done that!) But, then this isn't chick-lit or regency romance, it's real life, it's fun, funny and messy.
Yes, there's a hunky guy, but though Aiden is handsome and kind, he doesn't give her any slack, either. He's attracted to her, but he also insults, and challenges her to take charge.
There's also an ongoing thread running through the book that got my funny bone: A nosy neighbor spreads the rumor that Nola ran over and killed a little dog, and every time she meets a new local, she gets reminded of it. "Oh, yeah, you're the one who killed Momi's little dog." Okay, it doesn't sound so funny when I say it, but you'll have to read the book to get the punch line. It's part of what makes Maui a small town. The kind of family, kinship, everyone loves to read about and something most of us, myself included, never get to see as a tourist to the islands. Naturally, there's a very satisfying and happy ending. I loved this book.
Highly recommended read.