Rating 2 stars out of 5
Oliver Sheehan is on his way from Boston to California to marry his long time fiance. Theirs has been a bicoastal relationship but neither is getting any younger and both feel its time to marry and settle in one place. Oliver is giving up everything to relocate, his beloved Boston, his friends and his job because of his fiance’s desire to remain in California with her family. Oliver is feeling more than a little resentful and not as sure of this marriage as he ought to be. Then he meets Colin Traynor, the flight attendant in his section and the sparks fly.
When Oliver tells his fiance of his doubts, Sophia responds with hers, plus the fact that she has fallen in love with her female coworker, all two days before the wedding. Oliver is angry, relieved and ready to return to Boston, but not without hooking up with Colin first. A date leads to the men texting and then meeting in Boston. But is Oliver really ready for a new committed relationship? Colin doesn’t think so. It’s up to Oliver to convince the man he wants that he is ready to commit to Colin for the rest of their lives. Now is only Colin will believe him.
Sigh. It’s a bad sign when I tell a reader that if they want to read a book, just read the blurb instead and leave it at that. Such a disappointing story at just about every level. Giving it a 2 star rating was actually kind and a stretch. First you have the characters which are oddly unformed and weirdly dislikable. Oliver is already dithering about the relationship on the plane, saying he loves Sophia in one breath and making declaimer statements about her and their relationship in the next. Here he is on the plane:
They hadn’t agreed on much of it. She wanted a big wedding with all her family and friends. He had no family— at least none who spoke to him— and none of his so-called friends were willing to travel, so he wanted a small ceremony with only Sophia’s parents and siblings in attendance. She wanted a church wedding. He hadn’t set foot in a church since his parents’ church turned its collective back on him right after his parents threw him out.
Sophia had won all the arguments, including the one about which of them should have to relocate. Her entire family lived in either Sacramento or the Bay Area, and she refused to leave them. As far as she was concerned, the fact that Oliver had no relationship with his family meant he had no reason to stay in Boston. When he’d protested that his job was there, she’d reminded him there were more software technician opportunities in California than in Massachusetts. He’d finally caved, partly because he’d seen no way to win the argument, and partly because love meant giving things up for the other person’s benefit. And he loved Sophia. At least he thought he did.
He just wished he could be sure.
And it goes downhill from there. Oliver starts flirting with Colin on the plane, not telling him that he’s getting married, then goes to meet his fiance, Sophia, another oddly flat character whose personality never arises above one dimension. Interestingly enough, both of these characters are supposed to be bisexual, but neither shows any real feeling towards each other or the other gender. They “say” the sex was hot and the author gives us an extended m/f sex scene to prove it. However, it falls as flat and unsexy, and quite frankly unbelievable as is their statements. I am not sure the author really understands what bisexuality means, because it comes across more like the mistaken “one step to gayness” that haunts so many other characterizations of this ilk instead of true bisexuality. And between these wobbly characters and their treatment of the situation they are in, the reader finds themselves separated from any emotional connection to these people other than a mild disgust and disbelief.
After deciding to call things off two days before the wedding, this is how Sophia decides to tell Oliver she is in love with a women (and tell her conservative family and friends as well):
“What about the reception?” That was one of the most expensive parts of the wedding, judging by the bills and receipts Sophia had shown him. He’d cringed when he’d seen those, but she hadn’t seemed to think they were at all out of line.
“We could still do it.” Her face lit up. “We can have a cancellation party. Or better.” She hesitated again but didn’t appear as nervous. “A coming-out party.”
Oliver’s heart stopped for a second. She knew he didn’t want anyone to know about his encounters with guys in the past. How could she even suggest such a thing?
And her next words were:
“I didn’t mean you.”
That was a bigger bomb than her previous statement. Now Oliver didn’t try to come up with a response. He understood exactly what she meant, and it was too much of a mind-screw for him to think coherently.
“Say something,” she pleaded. “I didn’t mean to hide it from you. I should have told you when you told me about your past. I didn’t want to admit it to you. I didn’t want to admit it to anyone, but I should have. I haven’t been fair to either of us.”
By now, these characterizations are changing by the minute, think of a new personality trait and they assume it. What they both come off as is closeted individuals, not realistic bisexuals. In addition, both Sophia and Oliver are over 30 but it surely doesn’t show in their actions, all of which are colored by a layer of immaturity. They both decide to invite Colin (after a chance meeting and phone call) and Sophia’s coworker to the reception/coming out party which leads to a disastrous scene with Colin jumping up and lecturing the families on tolerance. Really? A stranger jumps up and yells at the families who have been broadsided at a party to celebrate a wedding? Just one mess after another. I kept wondering what the author thinks a reader is going to do with all this? Because the characters I felt compassion for were the friends and families, not any of the MCs blithely running roughshod over feelings and honest expectations. *shakes head*
Colin is just as unformed and unappealing at Oliver. Out and proud, he goes along with Oliver to the party knowing what’s coming. Jumps into a relationship with him, while saying he won’t jump into a relationship with him, etc. No, Colin is not believable either. Here he is after Sophia has made her grand announcement to all:
This time, there were fewer insults, but the ones that occurred were still directed at Oliver, as he’d suspected. Somehow it was his fault his fiancée had become interested in a woman. “Excuse me.” Colin’s voice rose above the clamor, and everyone shut up and stared at him. He stood, and Oliver wished he could slide under the table. He had no idea what Colin was doing, and Colin had no idea what he was getting into by standing up to Sophia’s family. “I don’t know any of you, and you don’t know me, and it’s probably a good thing. You can’t turn someone gay. Or bisexual, depending on what Sophia considers herself. Those of you who are sitting here ranting about Oliver have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Oliver cringed. Sophia’s family didn’t take well to “outsiders” as it was, and Colin had probably just made enemies out of all of them. Even Sophia looked appalled.
The insults were along the lines of Oliver being a jerk. Hmmmm. Now play that scene over in your head (and that’s pretty much how it plays out in the story). What would your reaction be? I suspect that your sympathies will lie everywhere but with Sophia and Oliver as do mine. Why does the author not see this? This odd outlook permeates the story, furthering the disconnect with the reader from the plot, the characters, heck all of it.
Towards the end of the book, after a month of texting, Oliver decides he is in love and wants Colin to move in. Keep in mind they really only had a day together in California, a month of texting, then a day in Boston.
Colin hadn’t said he would give up everything. They hadn’t even said they were going to move in together. His mind was jumping all around the conversation and not waiting for anything definite to be determined.
“You know, we keep saying we aren’t sure about this, but we’re talking as if we are.” Colin took a drink of coffee. “Let’s just say it, okay? We’re good together. I’ve felt it for a while now, and being here with you has proved it. Seeing you last thing last night and first thing this morning seemed more right than anything else in my life lately. We can change our minds if things do fall apart this week, but I want to be with you, Oliver.”
The elderly couple at the next table shot them sharp glances. Oliver glared at them until they went back to their eggs and bacon. This was Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage was legal, same-sex couples existed, and he didn’t care about the opinions of some random old folks he would never see again.
By this time, I am surprised I made it almost through all 196 pages, only to find Oliver still dithering around along with Colin. I will let you all extrapolate the rest of the story from the bits I gave you and the blurb from the publisher. The story does mercifully end and we get to leave these characters on the pages of this book, soon to slip forever out of mind.
I have read at least two other stories by Karenna Colcroft, including Sensei. That book had some promising ideas as well as intriguing characters in it whereas Changing Planes has neither. If you wish to read a Karenna Colcroft story I would suggest you pick up that one and leave this where it belongs….on the shelf gathering dust bunnies.
Cover art by Mina Carter. That cover is just adorable. So unfortunate that the story inside doesn’t live up to it.
ebook, 196 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Loose Id