Other Molly O'Keefe reviews can be found in the Archives.

 
Crazy Thing Called Love
by Molly O'Keefe
(Bantam, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-.345-53369-2
*****
It isn't often I enjoy a story so much when the major plotline is a second chance and features a divorced couple. Molly O'Keefe has written a story with depth and while not perfect, will call to me on another day to read it again. This one will remain on my keeper shelf.

Hockey brawler Billy Wilkens could have been more, but having come from a poor family with an abusive father and with hockey his only joy, Billy never really learned to appreciate good things when he had them. Anger, fear of betrayal and just insecurity often led him to poor decisions. One good decision he made was to marry his best friend and supporter Maddy Baumgartner. But even with this he didn't appreciate what she gave him. He ruined it with his sense of invincibility and arrogance.

Maddy grew up in a nice home, but was best friends with Billy's sister Denise until she started getting into drugs. She saw their home life and being a bit of a nerd, was flattered when Billy showered his hot attention on her. She fell in love and stuck by him until he made it in the NHL, only to feel his betrayal that soon turned her love into hate and her self-confidence in the sewer.

Maddy survived by losing weight, going back to college and making a name for herself...Madelyn Cornish, host of AM Dallas. She and her producer Ruth had ambitions for the network and were determined. No one knew about Billy and her previous life and she liked it that way just fine. But when Billy really blows a gasket and gets kicked out for a major fight for the Dallas team, the show decides it was be cool to try to make him over.

Despite Madelyn's protest, the stage is set. She and Billy will have to work together for a month. Billy sees it as a chance to regain his career glory, repair his image and possibly, reunite with Maddy. Maddy sees it as a disaster and is determined to protect her heart and her hard fought confidence.

This story had the potential for being the same old, same old. But O'Keefe injects the tale with some wonderful supporting characters. Ruth is both a friend and a person who betrays. There are kids involved - Billy's niece Becky and nephew Charlie - who show up unexpectedly and play a major role in the story. Becky is a wise old thirteen, but has seen more of life than any child should. Her story is heartbreaking and draws the reader right in. Charlie is an energetic three year old who is a contrast to his older and protective sister. The transformation that both Billy and Maddy have to achieve to reach their HEA is at times poignant, frustrating, sad, energizing and realistic. Even when Maddy almost blows it at the end, her sense of self-preservation is understandable.

Crazy Thing Called Love is not your typical fun and engaging chick lit romance. Molly O'Keefe captures the reader with a story of angst, love, sorrow and redemption that is well worth the time. For this reader, I want to revisit it again and again, knowing there are nuances that I will find each time I read it.

--Shirley Lyons


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