Review of SKINNY DIPPING by Connie Brockway (see her website)Onyx, January 2008
When she was still a child, Mimi Olson's father had dropped her off at the family cottage system and vanished. Now, thirty years later, she still clings to that set of vacation bungalos and cabins. The Olson family is largely matriarchial, and while Mimi is too young to be the official ruler, she plays a key role in holding the family together--and in maintaining the status quo with an ongoing family vacation site that has endured through generations. Still, with lake property commanding huge premiums, can the Olson family really afford to keep up the place--or will Mimi find herself abandoned once more?
Joe Tierney knows he failed his son--a genius with no social skills who's built a monstrosity on the shores of a small lake. He does his best to make up for his failures--but his son seems always to pose him tests he's sure to fail. When Joe decides to visit his son, he doesn't mind the distraction a sexy (and naked because she was skinny dipping) woman poses. In fact, he's quickly fascinated by the female who seems to understand a lot more about what's going on than he would have guessed.
Mimi recognizes the attraction, but she's never let herself be anything but independent. A brief affair with Joe would be fine, but she's got to draw the line. The problem is, can she trust herself to keep her promise or will she start to depend on a man who has already proven himself as unreliable as her long-vanished father?
Author Connie Brockway (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Brockway) creates a fascinating, damaged character in Mimi Olson. Equally damaged, and even more fascinating is Joe's son, Prescott. By accident, Mimi sticks Prescott with a dog, opening new possibilities for social contact to the reclusive genius. Mimi's psychological problems, caused by her father's desertion, cause her to intentionally go through life without goals. Can the possibility of losing her cherished beach home wake her up to her potential?
Brockway throws a lot at the reader--psychological issues, conflict based on misunderstanding (Joe falsely accuses Mimi of taking advantage of Prescott and believes she has misled him about her background and wealth), the question of whether to sell the family vacation site, the role of dogs in a largely human household, and a reclusive genius. To these she adds some truly funny situations and witty dialogue. I would have liked to see a bit more integration of the conflicts keeping Joe and Mimi apart. Although I didn't get this, Brockway's strong writing kept me invested in the characters (although I have to say, I didn't really care that much whether the vacation home, Chez Ducky, was saved or not).
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