Monday, January 21, 2013

Just Good Friends - Rosalind James

This is the second book in Rosalind James' Escape to New Zealand series. I read the first one because it was a free download from Amazon; I read this one because I loved the first one so much. I didn't think a second book could live up to the first one. Fortunately, this book exceeded my expectations.

The book opens with Lisa cowering under her kitchen table while a man who was stalking her prowled around the house, threatening to kill her. She realizes she needs to get as far away from home as possible; her former co-worker, Hannah, has moved to New Zealand. So, she quickly contacts Hannah, and is soon living in hiding, in New Zealand. She gets a job with the Auckland Blues, the rugby team Hannah's husband, Drew, plays for. She meets Koti James, playboy hot head player. There is definite chemistry between the two of them - it starts as explosive, but grows into something more.

There were several interesting issues that were explored in this book. One was the question of whether single men and women can be friends without sexual tension. This was one of our ongoing debates in college, so I was intrigued to see it explored here. Second, the issue of co-dependency. In a healthy relationship, the partners take care of each other. As strong women, how do we let a man take care of us without sending the message that we can't take care of ourselves? The conversations between Hannah and Lisa when Lisa first arrives were surprisingly thought-provoking given the light feel to the book. Third, as a Maori, Koti shares a lot about his culture, and we are able to see the experience of an indigenous culture that is so different than the treatment of Native Americans in the United State. Fourth, and most significantly, is the psychology of stalkers, abuse and violence. Ms. James does an amazing job of conveying Lisa's experience with a stalker: the fear as well as the determination, and the pathology behind Paul's actions.

As I said in an earlier post, this is my favorite book from this series. The growth both Lisa and Koti experience is breathtaking. The relationships between Lisa, Hannah, Drew and Koti are fascinating. I don't want to give anything away, but the epilogue in this book is just wonderful!

I give this book five enthusiastic hearts. I may have to read this book a third time. :-)

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