• May 31, 2023


Book cover

The first story, “No Regrets,” opens with a literal bang—Darien Francis, a small-business owner, finds herself in the middle of a bank robbery alongside security guard Richard Li. Afterward, she quickly falls for his easygoing and accommodating nature but finds herself held back by memories of her late lover and the brutality she experienced during the robbery. In the second story, “Probation,” Shane Kenniston, a former youth orchestra teacher, was accused of sexual assault by a 15-year-old girl, resulting in the loss of his job and the destruction of his social life; things become more complicated when he begins dating his former student’s sister, Beth, without initially realizing who she is. Following this is “The Shape of Life,” about a man named David and a single mother named Kate, whose life revolves around caring for her daughter with muscular dystrophy. The final story, “House Hunters,” concerns a group of friends: Frank, a real estate agent estranged from his young daughter; Gia and Andrea, financially successful newlyweds; and Kayla, a woman who believes all men are “useless.” These novellas often offer fun romantic plots with happy endings. However, they sometimes delve too deeply into issues that seem beyond the scope of brief stories. For example, some discussions of race between Darien, a White woman, and Richard, an East Asian man, come across as strained and excessive, as when he earnestly tells her, “I’ll show you how I go about dating Caucasian girls. ” However, the storyline between Shane and Beth is the most problematic, presenting a 30-year-old teacher who slept with a teenage girl as sympathetic, while vilifying the girl he slept with. The series’ third-person narration occasionally offers patronizing or objectifying internal monologues, with little attempt to critique such mentalities: “What was it with women, that they thought you shared some kind of relationship the minute things got physical?”

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