An accomplished journalist, Zoë Goren can’t drive and she doesn’t cook. But that’s never been a problem in Manhattan, where the streets are filled with taxis and takeout restaurants, and a busy single mother can find everything she needs right at her fingertips. In fact, Zoë can’t imagine living or working anyplace else. But when Zoë’s daughter is diagnosed with dyslexia, she decides to make the ultimate sacrifice, moving two hours from Manhattan in order to enroll Maya in an excellent school for children with learning differences. Stranded in a rural paradise, Zoë must grapple with isolation, coyote howls, and the lack of good delivery services. But when she decides to overcome her fear of driving and take lessons, she meets Mack, an unnervingly attractive townie, back from the war in Iraq and trying to adjust to civilian life. With a budding new romance and a reporting gig for the local paper, Zoë just might survive in the wilderness of small-town America after all.
I really enjoyed this novel because it was refreshing and it featured a cross-cultural romance that was quite sexy. Zoë Goren is Jewish and speaks several different languages. Her family came from Iraq before settling into Manhattan. Zoë is a free lance journalist and the author presented a couple of her New York Times op-ed pieces into the story. Zoë decides to move to Arcadia in order for her dyslexic daughter to catch up academically. The story is pretty much about them adapting to the country life after leaving the big city behind.
John Mckenna or “Mack” as he likes to be called, is pretty laid back. I liked him a lot. He loves cars, he teaches teens how to drive and he’s a volunteer EMT in Arcadia. Mack also suffers from bouts of post traumatic stress from his days in Iraq. She’s the city girl and he’s the townie. Their relationship starts off as a temporary fling for Zoë. She makes the mistake of thinking of Mack as not being her intellectual equal. Zoë being ten years older than Mack, she saw him only as her “boy toy.” However, she learns that Mack has more depth to him than meets the eye.
As for their romance – their first meeting and relationship had a natural flow to it for me. The love scenes while explicit, they are not numerous. They actually added to character development and had a realistic flavor to it. You see them laughing, talking and flirting with each other. Other plot threads included a corrupt town supervisor who was paid off by developers that eventually sparks an outcry from the town. That thread winked out towards the end in a quiet resolution. Zoë also has to grapple with her dysfunctional family. It’s a messy situation that didn’t get resolved at the end due to it’s complexity.
Conflicts were pretty much self-contained. There was a moment of stupidity on Mack’s part that served more for plot development rather than character. Anyway, the author does have a refreshing voice and the story moved at an even pace. I liked Mack a lot because he was human and represented many young men his age today. Plus, it didn’t hurt that he read poetry. Zoë, I didn’t like as much because she came off too much as an elitist. However, Zoë wasn’t a completely unlikable character. She had some good points like putting her daughter’s needs before own and eventually seeing beyond Mack’s blue collar status. However, in the end, I still thought she was a social snob. Also, the citizens of Arcadia helped make the story even more enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner episode. Anyway, I had fun reading this book and slowed my reading down just a tad to drag out the ending. Flirting in Cars is an apt title for a book that hid many pleasant surprises for this reader. I’m glad that I read it. A B+.
[tags]Alisa Kwitney, Cross Cultural Romance, Flirting in Cars[/tags]