Susan Mallery's "Why Not Tonight" Is Here!
It’s to the point in my reading life that I have little patience or tolerance for a main character being the cause of the relationship conflict in a book, but the early copy I read of Why Not Tonight is a refreshing exception. From the outset, Mallery set Ronan up with a major internal conflict and self-identity crisis, so his eventual sabotage of his relationship with Natalie was expected and anticipated but crafted in such a way that the reader is invested, understanding and sympathetic. For Mallery to get me to tolerate something I generally despise, and then also embrace the character and the outcome speaks to not only her talent in crafting a story but also her mastery of the psychology behind it and its impact on the reader.
Mallery's Fool's Gold series is one I hope will go on forever, so to have the Happily Inc. spin-off series with some familiar characters is a real treat. After Ronan Mitchell learns some devastating news that shakes the very foundation of his existence, he leaves his family and Fool's Gold and secludes himself in an opulent mountain cabin near the wedding destination town of Happily Inc. There he can practice his glass art away from the toxicity of his even more famous artist father. He can’t completely avoid family though, since his two artist brothers follow him to Happily Inc. They're used to his moodiness and solitude, but when no one has heard from him for nearly a week, they ask the gallery office gal, Natalie, to take a drive up to his house and check on him. It’s a good thing Natalie and Ronan are on friendly terms, because when the road to town washes out and Natalie gets stranded at Ronan's, things get even friendlier.
Natalie and Ronan are complete opposites like light and dark but there’s a definite yin and yang thing between them. Yes, Ronan has had some disappointment in his life, but he let it turn from stoic, moody and brooding into angry, bitter and fatalistic, and he’s become far too much like the father he despises. Natalie has had her own share of hardships, yet she remains happy, positive and upbeat and has an excitement and vitality for life that is enviable. She's certainly good for Ronan, yet she doesn’t hesitate to give him a piece of her mind when he needs it, or call him a “stupid butthead" when he needs to hear it.
As an artist, I was intrigued to see how these artistic characters would develop, and I think Mallery captured the soul of an artist beautifully. Yes, there are some specific artistic types portrayed with Ceallach's temperamental and gigantic ego, Ronan’s moody brooding, and Natalie's sunny disposition on the opposite end of the spectrum, where the majority of artists are probably somewhere in the middle. But the rest was spot on. The floundering, at-odds feeling during lack of inspiration. The Zen state in the midst of inspired creation where nothing exists beyond artist and materials. The creation of landfill-worthy pieces that serve to show the artist the corrections and tweaks needed until that gallery-worthy piece is finally born. Mallery offers an accurate glimpse at the process of artistic endeavor. This, along with many endearing, relatable characters and a captivating storyline make Why Not Tonight a delightful read and one I wholeheartedly recommend.
- Hours later he stared at the molten mess he’d made. It was a green blob that was more failed science experiment than turtle, but he’d learned from his mistakes and was eager to try again.
- “You need to learn to open your heart, Ronan. Or you’re going to be trapped in your emotional ice kingdom forever.”
- With Natalie around, the darkness wasn’t so grim and the good parts were even better.
- “You're my miracle."