I honestly like most of Cathy Kelly books, but this is my least favorite book that she has published. The main problem is that no one feels very developed. Usually Kelly does a great job juggling multiple characters in a book, but too much was going on with anyone for you to even get settled with anyone. Also, two of the three "leads" sucked. I didn't like the characters of Bess or Jojo. Also Kelly's ultimate message that a widowed man needs to remarry (quite quickly) when he loses his wife since apparently they need a woman to take care of them just made me want to tear my hair out. Apparently women are fine after their husbands die (HUGE FREAKING EYEROLL). Also one wonders if this applies to gay men or just a man and woman? This whole book was problematic as hell.
"Secrets of a Happy Marriage" divulged very little secrets. Instead if just acted like it had these huge eye opening moments about marriages such as men need to be married after losing a wife cause they can't get by without some woman taking care of them. I don't know. I was pretty rageful while reading this book.
This book revolves around three characters. Bess, newly married to widowed Edward. Bess is so happy with Edward and doesn't get why her new stepdaughter (JoJo) hates her. It's not her fault her mother died and her father remarried less than two years after she passed. Bess proceeds to act entitled and whiny through this whole freaking book, so enjoy that. I think my last little bit of patience with her was when she literally cursed out Jojo and acted as if she was a monster that should not darken their doors again. Edward rightfully found his spine. However, these two never discuss anything and it was just frustrating to read.
Jojo is reeling from her mother's death, her father's fast second marriage, and also her suffering multiple miscarriages. She is pulling away from family and friends and can't seem to get a handle on her grief. I at times thought that Jojo was acting impossible with regards to Bess, but I get why she was so angry. I can't imagine my mom or dad getting married a year plus after the other one died and being okay with it. I was also sick of people acting like Jojo just didn't get that men need to move on after losing a spouse. It just made it seem as if her father was heartless and clueless.
Cari had the best storyline. She was jilted at the altar and since has thrown herself into work and avoiding men. After getting shafted at her job (she's an editor) she meets a new guy who seems to be everything she has wanted and avoided. Cari and her mom and dad were the best. Plus I loved her whole work storyline and how that was resolved. Kelly paints Cari as competent at her job and happy with her house though at times wanting more. If we had just stayed with her, things would have been better.
The book also includes perspectives from Edward, Edward's son (and Jojo's brother) and Bess's daughter. They honestly were not needed and took me out of the book a bit. There was no need to cram so many characters in.
The writing was not very tight in this one. I found some typos in my Kindle copy of this book and also a few times wondered if I had misread something. Seems to be an issue based on comments in other reviews I have seen.
The flow was awful too. The book drags until the end and then we spring forward to an ending.