Merry is on a journey, hiking through the wilds of the Scottish highlands, when she was falls sudden ill. She pushes herself back to last occupied building she saw on her way, nearly braining herself in the process. In that rustic cottage lives Rob. Rob has exiled himself from civilization to keep himself from killing himself with drink. Cranky, prickly and barely civil, he cares for Merry. Rob is deeply disturbed by her presence as it exposes his loneliness and remind him of needs and desires he has suppressed.
This is a story about letting yourself want what you want, to accept yourself for who you are. Rob is very specifically kinky, in a way that has long made him feel isolated and ashamed. He used alcohol as crutch till it took over his life. Merry overate habitually, and recently lost a hundred pounds, but not yet at ease or satisfied with her body. She struggles with the reality of how differently people treat her now. She too is trying to claim what she desires. Having internalized that she couldn't be both fat and bitch, she projected a jolly non-threatening persona. People-pleasing and self-abasing she has stuck around in unsatisfactory jobs, friendships and relationships. With Rob, she trusts herself to reach for something, and not just wish it happen.
Why I enjoyed reading it: I love the hesitant false starts. The witty and down-right mean inner voices Rob and Merry hear in their heads. I loved the tension as they try to let themselves be more exposed than they have ever before.
Cara McKenna leaves us in a place of hope that doesn't betray the real serious obstacles they face.