‘Just a Little Romance’ by Mary Jane Russell

Mary Jane Russell’s new novel introduces Samantha Moyer, who is successful in her professional life. She is, however, much less successful in her private life. She is in her 40s and searching for the love of her life in all the wrong places.

After a couple of disasters, Sam finally gives up online dating and sleeping around, and tries to get her act together. When she does, she finds love in someone who believes Sam is not good relationship material.

Russell slowly unfolds her story, allowing her to develop the relationship between Sam and her best pal, Paul. Sam has two other best friends. Ava, an 80-something next door neighbor and 20-something Haley, living across the street. These two women and the other characters remain amorphous, however, throughout the book. The reader is told of the closeness of the bonds between these characters, but the reader may have difficulty believing it because the relationships are not well developed. There are other characters in the book, like the retired judge introduced in some detail in an early chapter only to never be mentioned again. Easier to understand is the villain Russell gives us: KD is an abusive woman who believes Sam is the cause of Haley breaking up with her.

For a book that unfolded as slowly as this one, Russell should have been able to develop her characters in depth. However, such was not the case. Perhaps if the author had decided on fewer characters, she could have given the remaining characters more personality. Russell had a very interesting premise, but the book didn’t live up to its potential.

Russell’s transitions in time are often so abrupt that the reader is taken out of the story, trying to figure out how much time has passed between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

This wasn’t a bad read. It is worth the read simply to see how Sam deals with the various crises in her life and how she determines to finally grow up.

Just a Little Romance
by Mary Jane Russell
Paperback, 9781935216254, 240pp
February 2011