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Friday, 29 January 2016

Book Review: The Complete Package by Ann Roberts

The Complete Package tells the story of Lenny Barclay, mayor of a sleepy Colorado mountain town, who hasn't been able to pick herself up following the death of her partner. Estranged from her son and having let her business go to pieces, nothing seems to touch her any more. When a corporate planner, Sloane, arrives intent on changing the face of the town forever and buying her business, Lenny gets a bit of her bite back, but it turns into far more than a professional battle.

As a romantic read, this one ticks most of the boxes. Lenny and Sloane develop an entirely realistic antagonistic relationship and both are difficult to like at times. There are some genuinely funny moments - for instance, the log incident - and it builds to a satisfying romantic resolution that doesn't dodge the issues of the two characters. Equally, the use of location in this novel is superb. The landscape is integral to both the plot and Lenny's characterisation and it's definitely another character in itself, maybe the most important one. Something else I liked was the twist towards the end, entirely in keeping with Sloane's character.

However, there were aspects of this one I didn't like and they're probably more personal preferences than anything else. I'm not a fan of giving animals viewpoint chapters in the middle of adult novels and those chapters took me out of the narrative a little. Similarly, some of the sex scenes might've been indicative of character but they took time away from other things in the book I found more important.

Ultimately, The Complete Package, is a nice, easy read that deals with universal themes of grief and greed. It might build to a expected conclusion but it's nice getting there. For all the emphasis on Lenny in the narrative, though, it's Sloane who's stuck with me since I finished this book.

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