Skinny Dipping

Connie Brockway
2008, Women's Fiction
Onyx, $7.99, 432 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451412443

Grade: C
Sensuality: Subtle

Did you know we've granted Connie Brockway DIK status 8 times?

I am a longstanding fan of Connie Brockway. Bridal Favors remains one of my most beloved comfort reads. That being said, Skinny Dipping was an unbalanced read that leveled out at mediocre and left me disappointed.

Mimi Olson is the very definition of "slacker." At 41 years, she has never owned a pet, a plant or had a serious relationship. She is also very aware of what she is. Her one constant in life is summer at the Olson family retreat, "Chez Ducky." A derelict group of cottages surrounding a northern Minnesota lake, it’s a gathering of all the Olsons to while away those lazy summer days.

During the last days of this summer, Mimi finds out that there is talk of selling Chez Ducky. Apparently the land that has been in the family for countless generations is becoming a hot commodity with the rich folk. Enough money is at stake to sweeten the pot. Mimi is angered by the news, but doesn’t speak out. That just isn’t her thing. In her own little world, she will imagine that none of this is happening and move on.

Mimi meets Joe Tierney while running naked through the woods near Chez Ducky in search of a blanket - or anything else that will cover her up. Joe is on his way to visit his son Prescott, who doesn’t want to be visited, when he meets Mimi. He’s fascinated by her and the way she lives, for it’s the complete opposite of Joe’s organized, perfect life. He tries very hard not to be interested. Mimi tries, too. She knows she’s out of his league and finds him too perfect.

There are many things going on besides Mimi and Joe’s romance and the fate of Chez Ducky. Mimi has some major issues with her mother and half-sisters, along with a father who’s been missing for a couple of decades. Joe’s relationship with his son is strained at best, but more accurately non-existent. And since this is a novel, all the characters need to grow and resolve these issues. It is quite a large order, one the author handled well for the most part.

Now, the first half of Skinny Dipping is great. I saw B+ written all over it. The characters were kooky in that way only Ms. Brockway can pull off. The wit was sharp and the attitude light with a nice dollop of drama and intelligence. The romance was off to a great start, too.

Then the story lags.

Then crankiness and self reflection hit all the characters and the humor is gone.

Then I’m struggling to finish.

With such a strong beginning I was shocked at how much the overall tone changed. Mimi and Joe’s relationship becomes one I don’t give a hoot about. The change in Mimi, once she realizes she has responsibilities and must take some control over her bohemian life, isn’t well done, either. Frankly, I didn’t like the new Mimi; she’s grumpy.

I wouldn’t go as far to say Connie Brockway should stick with historical romance. She definitely has the skill for contemporary women’s fiction. I just think she fell slightly off the mark with Skinny Dipping. Nevertheless, I will be anxiously waiting her next release.

-- Lisa Gardineer

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