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Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Closing Costs by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: June 6, 2012

Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Love conquers all? Not likely, according to Sara Thornton. She’s spent eight years coming to terms with the new parameters of her life while resigning herself to the idea that “happily ever afters” are best left to fairytales. Sales manager for her successful real estate office and juggling an added element of responsibility she never thought she’d face, Sara continues to struggle with the men in her life. Love, for her, has only meant hurt, broken trust and anger; all of which she’s completely banished from her life, so she claims.

Jack Gordon has come a long way since his early days of obsession with Sara. As the general manager of Stewart Realty, his own level of responsibility for the well-being of others has ramped up. He’s even honed his caretaking skills, now that he has someone who loves him unconditionally.

Continuing to invest effort and rebuild their relationship, he and Sara grow close as friends. Despite this, his ultimate question remains unanswered; the one he keeps asking, no matter how many times she says no. Sara isn’t prepared for the keen focus of his need–to have her back, once and for all. Her stubborn resistance nearly rips both lives apart.

Though Closing Costs is considered a part of the Stewart Realty series, I am starting to see it more as another chapter in the Jack and Sara saga. Both characters have almost come full circle but there are still a few things in store for both of them. To me, they're a symbol of real people in the real world. No one is ever 100% happy in their life, let alone their relationships. Sometimes those who pretend to be the happiest are the most miserable in life. The point Closing Costs brings across is that we all have a choice in life. We can choose to make the best of what life throws our way or we can choose to let it drown us without a fight. We can choose to refuse to change, or we can choose to try and change for the better.

Just like its predecessors, Closing Costs is so well put together and so achingly real that I easily lost myself within its pages and the emotional war that continues to rage between characters. One of the things I love about Liz Crowe's stories is that she has the ability to make a reader become so completely involved with the characters she's created. It's not that I identified with them, I can literally SEE bits of myself reflected back at me through Jack, Sara, Craig, Blake, Rob and Suzanne. Some of those reflections are good, and some are less than stellar but that's what makes these characters so real to me, so undeniably human.

Each character has changed significantly since Floor Time, life has become complicated for all the characters, particularly Sara. She's become more stubborn and that has made her already difficult life worse. Wanting to do things on her own is admirable, but Sara only wants her independence when it's convenient to her, it doesn't matter what price those around her pay.Sara is the type of person who just loves to learn things the hard way, rather than take advice from people who know more and avoid negative situations in the first place, she confuses stubbornness for independence and ends up with egg on her face.

Towards the end of Closing Costs I started to question Sara's character. She's far from perfect yes, but her inability to do what's best for the people she claims to care about, yet continues to knowingly use started to change my original opinion of her. She started to look like a master manipulator who only cared about her wants, her needs and the hell with anyone else. She was selfish, immature and needy to the point where she at times acted more like a jealous child towards Katie instead of her mother. It seems that Jack matured and moved forward, while Sara became immature and moved backwards. She continually sabotaged any happy moments in her life, either with Jack or Katie.

Jack, while still a jerk when he gets angry or feels he has to defend himself, has matured a lot since Floor Time. He is starting to think his actions through and how they might affect those around him. It's not to say he's become a perfect man, hell no, he's still a pain in the ass sometimes but at least he's being honest with himself and others about what he wants. He somehow developed this extreme amount of patience which is not easy around a person like Sara and her family, that wasn't present before.

The ever present real life drama and emotional roller coaster is what drives a book like Closing Costs. It gives readers a reality check in some ways by showing the difficult times in between those "happy moments" we're so fond of in other books, making the conclusion that much sweeter in my opinion. There's nothing more satisfying than watching two characters like Jack and Sara fight, fall in love, struggle with life's hard times, almost lose everything and then begin to work things out. It makes that "Happy For Now" moment something to cherish and hope for in one's own life.


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