|Skinny Dipping features one of the most uninspiring heroines I've ever encountered between the pages of a book. When the main character doesn't give a rat's rear about anything except maintaining her slacker lifestyle, why would I care about her? I spent more time pondering this question than enjoying the book.
Mimi Olson, aforementioned slacker, is a 40-year-old medium, that is, a person who contacts the dead. Mimi comes from a family whose members are either Type A overachievers or professional goof-offs, and Mimi falls squarely in the latter category. The only thing she cares about is the family enclave, Chez Ducky, a collection of ramshackle cottages on a lake in northern Minnesota where she's spent part of her summer every year since childhood.
Now Chez Ducky is in danger. The buildings need repair, the property taxes are rising, and the family may not be able to avoid selling it. If that happens, Mimi knows the cottages will be razed to make way for palatial vacation homes. Mimi makes what she thinks will be her last summer trek to the lake. An assorted cast of kooky relatives are in residence, and then Joe Tierney shows up, looking for his estranged son, Prescott. Mimi and Joe "meet cute" when she loses her swimsuit in the lake and steals a blanket out of Joe's rental car. Then it turns out Prescott, an electronics whiz kid, is the owner of the McMansion next door. Add an assortment of dogs, a pregnant sister-in-law, a workaholic hero, and what felt like five hundred relatives, and you've got the trappings of a madcap comedy.
Except it's not a lot of fun. This is the barest outline of the story; Brockway throws in everything including the kitchen sink, and then adds the garage and garden shed, to boot. Joe and Mimi ricochet from one plot point to another, getting to know one another on a pretty superficial basis and eventually having sex, but I just couldn't see what these two had going together. "Opposites attract" still needs a reason for attraction other than just being opposites, and I didn't find it here. Joe and Mimi felt like a horrible mismatch right from the outset, and at the end of the story, there were still a mismatch. They just didn't share enough page space to develop their romance.
The book felt overly long, and I attribute that to the huge cast of secondary characters, all fighting for face time and not contributing much of anything to the story (and keeping the focus off Mimi and Joe). A heavy hand with an editing pen would have sharpened this novel considerably, and also left more time for the romance to be developed.
Readers will enjoy the Connie Brockway's gentle homage to summer cabins at the lake, which are a familiar part of life here in the Great Lakes region. The lazy indolence of July and August, when vacationers relax on a porch or dock and the sun is as high overhead as it ever gets, is captured to perfection in Skinny Dipping. Mimi Olson, who is on permanent vacation, is far less enjoyable.