Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Remember the Shagmeister by Carol Schede

Title:  Remember the Shagmeister
Author: Carol Schede
My Rating: A++

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: -
Main Characters: Katie and Troy
Release Date: April 2012
ISBN: e-book
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
The Shag is eternal. A smooth, shuffling dance born years ago in a simpler time, but still alive and thriving on the Carolina beaches. Four friends, two couples—Katie and Bobby, and Rachel and Troy—spent lazy high school summers dancing to that timeless music and planning their perfect futures. But nothing lasts forever. In the heat of the fateful summer following graduation Katie Forrester's world imploded. Before that summer ended, she had fled town, burying her dreams and leaving behind the three former friends who had betrayed her. Now, years later, a wiser and older Katie is home again for a holiday visit with her family. Engaged and successful, she is confident her past heartache is long over...until it snows. Stranded in a blizzard with the man who set the wheels of betrayal in motion that fateful summer, Katie must face her painful past one last time. Somewhere amid the tears, and finally the laughter and joy, of reuniting with those who were once her truest and dearest friends, profound and dazzling love lies hidden and waiting for Katie. Join her and her old nemesis as they brave the blizzard and make a grand effort to prove to everyone, especially themselves, that—no indeed—they are not falling in love!

My Review:

OMG. Every once in a while I read a book that blows me away. I think this is that book for me this year. I cannot even begin to explain how good this book was, but I am sure going to try.

This book starts out as Katherine's story. She's on her way home for Christmas. She tries not to go home very often because 15 years ago, the life that she knew there was blown apart. When she was in high school, she was part of four friends. Troy and Rachel were a couple. Katie (Katherine) and Bobby were a couple. The summer between their senior and college years, Katie was in Mexico for six weeks. While she was gone, Troy made a single awful mistake which ruined everything the four of them had. Everyone was part of the betrayal except for Katie who came home to find Troy married to her sister and Bobby (her boyfriend) marrying her best friend Rachel. Katie left and tried to never look back...very unsuccessfully.

Fifteen years later, Katie's sister has died (three years before) and Troy is raising their four kids by himself. Rachel and Bobby are still happily married. Katie has never forgiven any of them. She's never had to see Rachel and Bobby, but now Troy is family and she's always been very upfront about how much she hates and blames him. Unfortunately, it's two days before Christmas and a blizzard has moved into the south. Katie is snowed in at the Atlanta airport so her mother sends Troy out in the blizzard to bring her home to Tennessee. It's been three years since she's been home. Her mother isn't going to let her spend the holiday in an airport. It takes two days on treacherous roads, but they do make it home and are starting to connect as friends again.

There's a ton to this book, but I think what makes it so incredibly good is the author's writing style. The entire book is written in 1st person POV, but that person changes every other chapter, usually between Troy and Katie...and sometimes there are a few Rachel chapters thrown in. It's incredibly good and these characters are incredibly real. Some of the thoughts they had (especially Troy) are just so surprising...real off the wall things that people actually think, but you rarely see that kind of honesty in a book.

Even though Katie has a wonderful life in NYC, she has never recovered from what happened that summer.. She's in a relationship, but there's no real depth there. She's never allowed herself to become that invested again. Watching her move through  and grow through those hurt feelings during these two weeks at Christmas was really wonderful to watch.

Then there's Troy. He's the one who's paid the most for that summer, which he absolutely takes upon himself because he knows that he's the one to blame for everything that happened. Back in high school, he was the party guy...willing to do any girl, anywhere, anytime. The irony here is that he's been completely celibate since his wife (Katie's sister) died and now he's Mr. Mom. His life is consumed by raising his four kids...15 yo son, 14 yo daughter, and 4 yo twins. Out of all of them, he's definitely the most grown-up now and just trying to survive Katie's visit. She's always been incredibly harsh to him. They have these moments that are so incredibly sweet, then fall back into their antagonistic relationship simply out of habit.

I became fully invested in this story. I literally did not want to put it down and when I got to the end, I immediately went back and started re-reading portions. The characters and story are so well-rounded and well-written. It's an incredibly moving story. So heartbreaking and poignant. At times I was laughing and giggling and I spent a good portion at the end sobbing. I loved, and at times even hated, these four friends and I truly cared about the outcome of their story. 

There are a few minor issues in the book...a few typos and a couple of times where the internal dialogue of the characters got a bit overwritten in the emotion (to the point where it took me out of the story and I wanted to roll my eyes)...BUT the book is so incredibly good, it's easy to overlook those tiny flaws. I loved this book and this story. It's definitely going into my all-time favorites file. My only wish is that I could get it in print to add to my keeper-shelf because this is definitely a keeper. I plan on re-reading it many, many times in the future.


Kate said...

I've actually read this book and couldn't agree more! I love this story. Love Carol Schede's writing, too. Schede knows how to wring the emotions out of you! I can't wait for her next book.

Norah Wilson said...

I was so excited when I saw this lovely review, I dashed off to tweet about it and forgot to comment. :) I've been a fan of Carol Schede's for years and have copies of her Five Star publications to prove it! I couldn't agree more with this review! We need to get some serious word of mouth going about her.

Barbara Phinney said...

What a great review! I can't say I know what the shag is, but I must get this book. Thanks for letting us know about it!

Carol said...

Christi, thanks for the lovely review. I'm thrilled that you were moved by my book. It truly was one of those "books of the heart" and I SO enjoyed writing it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the great review. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the story. I truly enjoyed writing it. I have to say, it was one of those books from the heart.