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Monday, November 28, 2011

Certainly Sensible by Pamela Woods-Jackson

Certainly Sensible by Pamela Woods-Jackson
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Womens Lit.
Length: Full Length (196 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Sensible Caroline, the eldest Benedict daughter, is determined to help make ends meet. But in order to do that, she must consider leaving not only the job she loves, but the man who has her heart—a man engaged to someone else. Her mother Susan, whose social skills and volunteer work helped make her husband rich and successful, is booted out of the family home when her ex's trophy wife wants the social status the address will bring her. Caroline's two younger sisters, Megan, the artist and Alison, the musician, are yanked from their private schools when Daddy pulls the financial plug.

All four women doubt their ability to make the transitions necessary to enter successfully into their new life-style, but deep within each lies a well of strength only adversity can uncover.

Money, like a crippling disease, had stymied the maturation of the four intelligent and talented Benedict women. Susan and her three daughters had played their parts well in her ex-husband Daniel’s rise to success—success that proved to a stumbling block for the whole family. Of course, the stumbling block was manipulated by the new wife Sharlene.

Susan, married at twenty-two years of age, had never had a “real” job. Even though she had a teaching degree, she’d chosen to support Daniel in his ambitious climb to success. She’d organized and helped with charity events, did volunteer work, gave perfect dinner parties for Daniel’s business associates, and seen to their three daughters having the best schools and rearing of any of the children in the upscale Belford society—none of these endeavors earned a salary. Daniel had provided the money. Now, three years after the divorce he is taking away the Belford estate and the generous allowances for each of them.

Susan and the daughters: Caroline, Allison, and Megan must vacate the big beautiful home, find alternate housing, and manage on what Susan can earn, child support for Megan, and tuition for state school for Megan and Allison—no more expensive private schools.

How the four cope with their change in social status and life style is much like a “rite of passage” long delayed.

The smart, “I-will-fix-it”, and supposedly sensible Caroline with a marketing degree works for a minuscule salary to stay close to Richard, the love of her life, who is engaged to Misty, his childhood friend. Caroline’s angst over his upcoming wedding and her need to earn a wage to support herself is a stress-filled sub-plot that forces her to “grow up”.

Allison, so talented, has pursued her music education in the prestigious private Bryce Anthony Music Conservatory in Chicago. Her temperament, that got her labeled “drama queen” early on in her life, makes her an unsympathetic character at times. Her blindness to see anything but what she wants gets her into a heartbreaking situation. Yet, hope waits in the wings for her to “grow up” and see the admirable worthiness of others.

The youngest, Megan, still in the prestigious, private Willowby Preparatory school, is an artist who wants to be an architect. However, she has neglected to keep her grades up and she acts out in an effort to get her dad’s attention. At one time he had lavished attention her—before Sharlene. Megan is a miserable, self-centered, spoiled teenager. Her adjustment makes for some heartbreaking reading.

The male characters recede into the background most of the time, even though they are instrumental in the “growing up” of the four Benedict women. None of the men seem to have that modern, polished alpha male quality, yet a couple of them are quiet, gentle heroes to be admired.

While I longed for a more in-depth development of the characters, and more romance, Certainly Sensible kept my attention—not in a breath-holding, page-turning way but in a wanting-to-know way—wanting to know how the Benedict women overcome such a devastating change of fortune. Getting to see all four women find an inner strength, a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and self-worth is most satisfying.