Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confined Spaces by Renee MacKenzie

Publisher:                   Blue Feather Books

Kara Travis is a "fixer" for her employer Royal Environmental.  Her job is to go into district offices, discover where the problems are and clean them up.  Sometimes that means firing people.  That's what she expects to do in Bensonville, Georgia.  Her first night in town she finds an interesting distraction in the cute bartender from a local club.  After a night of terrific sex, imagine her surprise the next morning when she finds out that the bartender is Andie Waters, a waste sample collector for Kara's company.  Though both women know professionalism dictates that they stop seeing each other, they're also thrown together every day and the attraction is extremely powerful.  There are numerous problems however.  Andie is still recovering from a painful relationship that ended tragically and doesn't want to be hurt again.  Kara doesn't want to endanger a promising career.  One night stands are her normal behavior.  The chance of them working this situation out does not appear promising, especially when Kara discovers irregularities at Andie's office.

MacKenzie takes a different approach to the romantic formula.  She introduces the relationship almost immediately and then takes it away.  There is not a need for the characters to spend the rest of the book deciding if they like each other.  They know that.  Instead the book focuses on issues that are weightier, such as the impact of suicide on the people left behind, the struggle between professional behavior and personal feelings, and the psychology of being the victim of a crime. The reader has a chance to see these characters work their ways through problems and, as in real life, the solutions are not always pretty or satisfying.

Confined Spaces takes a risk.  It hopes that readers, who normally want simple romances of people coming together, will be willing to stick with one where the relationship doesn't flow evenly and the happily ever after ending is very much in doubt.  This is a strong debut novel for MacKenzie.  She still needs to work on character development and filling in weak points in a plot, but she shows potential for future novels.  Overall it is a satisfying story.  Readers should give it a chance.

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