“A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.
For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don’t realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone…”
Thoughts: One thing Ms. Pekkanen does well in all of her novels is create characters to whom it is easy for readers to relate. Readers may find themselves in Alyssa’s carefree ways or in Dawn’s desperation or in Kira’s type-A personality. Ms. Pekkanen understands people, their drives, their needs, and the millions of ways one reacts to situations. There is always something attractive about all of her characters, but it is the reader’s ability to envision oneself as one of the characters that makes her stories so enjoyable.
Another enjoyable aspect of Ms. Pekkanen’s novels is that her characters are highly flawed. Readers will see the consequences of Dawn’s actions long before she realizes the truth. Some may view Alyssa as too accepting of her husband’s wandering ways, while others will struggle with Kira’s self-martyrdom. Their flaws are the exact same things that make them so empathetic, but it does not mean readers can guarantee to like them.
Unfortunately, Catching Air does not quite meet one’s expectations for Ms. Pekkanen. Her books are usually light and fun while still being earnest and emotional. This particular book had none of the light and fun and too much seriousness. Kira’s position as the only chef on the premises becomes infuriating as others take advantage of her hospitality. Her exacting honesty is also exhausting. Throughout it all, there is none of the levity Ms. Pekkanen usually creates to provide readers with a respite from the characters’ multiplying issues.
While Catching Air may disappoint fans of Ms. Pekkanen’s other novels, new readers will appreciate the realism she inflects in all of her characters and the emotional roller coaster through which she puts both readers and characters. It is a serious novel with very real issues, which will entice some readers while turning away others. Definitely not her best work, Catching Air is still a decent read for her characterization alone.