Unexpected – Jenny Frame
This lovely romance is sure to be your next comfort read.
Dale McGuire is a self-made woman and all is right in her world. She has a chain of successful auto mechanic shops, best friends who are like family, a love of fast cars, and she can get any woman she wants for some short-term fun. Her life gets turned on its head, however, when a ten-year-old boy shows up at her shop claiming that she’s his other mum.
Rebecca Harper’s life is very quiet and her son, Jake, is at the center of it. After a massive betrayal by someone she loved and years spent hiding from her father’s terrible legacy, Rebecca trusts no one. Times are getting tough with a second pregnancy hindering her ability to work, and a house and car both needing major repairs don’t help anything. The last thing she expects or needs is for Jake to bring home the anonymous egg donor who’s responsible for half of his genetics, disrupting their orderly life.
Dale doesn’t want a family and Rebecca doesn’t want anyone near hers. Both women learn that sometimes life has a funny way of ignoring what you want to give you what you need in ways that can be (wait for it...) unexpected.
A lot of great themes are explored in Unexpected. It’s a rich girl/poor girl romance, Rebecca is a single mother as well as an ice queen who thaws ever so perfectly, and Dale is the consummate player whose ways are reformed thanks to the love of a good woman and her son. Jenny Frame does a masterful job of balancing them, making the book satisfying to anyone who enjoys these themes individually or together, while ensuring it’s never overwrought.
Something Unexpected also does very well is interrogate the idea of family, through Rebecca and Dale’s respective relationships with Jake as well as their relationship with each other. Rebecca and Jake have a relationship of birth. Dale and Jake have shared genes. The three of them eventually grow into a family, with Rebecca and Dale choosing each other and Dale developing a genuine affection for Jake and the unborn baby. It’s not an easy road, with neither Rebecca nor Dale naturally being the trusting sort (or even wanting a partner). That makes their respective character arcs all the more pleasurable to experience from the first page of the book to the last.
Perhaps it’s a little silly for me to say “from the first page…” because I actually listened to the audiobook for Unexpected. This is the third Jenny Frame book I’ve heard narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent and that voice with those words is just heavenly. And as much as I enjoyed the other two books I’ve heard her narrate for Frame, I think this just might be their best pairing yet! Vincent has the many regional accents in the UK down quite well and I may have even had a little shiver when I heard Dale’s Scottish accent.
If you enjoy contemporary romances, Unexpected is a great choice. The character work is excellent, the plotting and pacing are well done, and it’s a just a sweet, warm read. And if you enjoy audiobooks, I highly recommend getting it in that format. Definitely pick this book up when you’re looking for your next comfort read, because it’s sure to put a smile on your face by the time you get to that happy ending.