When the “Storm of the Century” threatens western Maine, Eric closes his office early and heads to the grocery store. In line ahead of him, an unkempt and seemingly unstable young woman comes up short on cash, so Eric offers her twenty bucks and a ride home. Trouble is, Danielle doesn’t really have a home. She’s squatting in a cabin deep in the woods: no electricity, no plumbing, no heat. Eric, with problems of his own, tries to walk away, but finds he can’t. Fending off her mistrust of him, he gets her set up with food, water, and firewood, and departs with relief. But when he climbs back to the road, his car is gone, and in desperation he returns to the cabin. As the storm intensifies, these two lost souls are forced to wait it out together.
It's Christmastime in western Maine. Eric is on a grocery run, hoping to load up on last minute supplies before what's expected to be the worst storm of the year, maybe the century, hits town. As he stands in the checkout line, he watches as the woman ahead of him seems to be struggling to pay for her items. In a generous mood, Eric not only pays her bill but when he sees she doesn't appear to have a car, he offers to drive her wherever she needs to go. This woman, Danielle, adamantly refuses his help. She insists she's fine to walk, but Eric is just as obstinate about assisting her anyway. He gets her to the cabin where she says she's staying, helps her get her groceries inside but then Danielle once again insists that she be left alone. Hesitant to leave, Eric finally agrees to take off. But once he gets back to the road, he finds his car has gone missing! Having no way to get back to his house, he awkwardly has to make his way back to Danielle's place, explaining that there's no way around it -- he'll have to crash with her until the storm passes.
She puts up a fight but eventually gives in and over the course of a few days, forced to keep close quarters with each other, the two get to talking, slowly revealing all these deep-down secrets. Once Danielle starts to feel like Eric doesn't seem to be some creeper with ulterior motives, she lets him see a little bit of her softer side. But just a bit. As you're probably guessing, reading this far, Danielle has that trope-y blend of toughness and vulnerability that keeps Eric interested in getting to know her, even if she makes the process WORK. "Love story", you say?! Here's what I'm picturing in my head:
"Hey Eric, how'd you know Danielle was the one?"
"Ohh... maybe when she threw that bucket of urine on me? I dunno, you had to be there, maybe."
So are you feeling the romance building yet? Yeah, well, joke's on you! Or maybe it was on me... 'cause I sure didn't feel it. The back cover (paperback edition, anyway) has a blurb from Kirkus Reviews saying this novel is "a superbly grown-up love story"... m'kay. Here's what I got. I got Danielle with the abrasive af personality -- quick to anger, tendency to pout / tantrum (worsened after they bust out the alcohol -- girl is NOT a cute drunk!). She also has a tendency to talk like a bro, which I found a little off-putting. A little is okay, but chica was just shy of spitting chew and ball scratching. Yeaaa... getcha summa that, Eric LOL No joke, she sometimes had me thinking of Jane from HBO's Deadwood -- there was even a similar bathtub scene in this book!
Eric's not perfect either though. He WILL NOT stop going on ... and on .. and on about his ex. Everything seems to turn to "that reminds me of this one time with my ex..." transitions. For me it dragged the story down and even Danielle calls him out on it. I will say in his favor though, it was kinda endearing to see a man willing to be so patient with someone with such a coarse personality.
Everything was quiet, muffled. She said, "I dig talking with you. You sit there and listen. And you haven't said one single, stupid, f-d up thing for awhile. Plus, you flinch like a nun, which is trustworthy. And no hard-on, though you're definitely a dick.
I admit, there was some cute banter here and there between the two of them, which helped me push through the annoying bits... and I was curious to see the explanation as to why Danielle was the way she was. But overall there was just too much ridiculousness going on for me to be left all swoony and the pace was just a little too slow for my taste. The bulk of the novel just seemed to be made up of their talks on sex, past relationships, food and bodily functions. That would've been fine if these conversations were hysterically funny or maybe brought up some good deep thoughts for the reader to dwell on awhile. But there wasn't too much that struck me as long-term memorable.