Monday, March 18, 2019

Ella's Bookshelf - Returning to Us

It surely has been a long time since I have read and reviewed a new book by PK Corey.  It's always a treat when she lets her readers know about a pending publication date.  I like to clear the decks, so to speak, on my Kindle, so I am ready to begin reading as soon as I download.  Sam will ask me why I am heading to bed so early, and then nod with understanding when I say, "PK's new book came out."

This book was a brand new venture for Ms. Corey too.  Her previous 2 successful series are well-loved by me for sure.  I have read the Cassie books more times than I can now remember (think I lost track at about 8 times).  Cassie isn't just a character in a story; I love her like a friend.  The Cal and Jenny books have also pleased readers, and we are hoping for more.

                                               Here we go!

Title:  Returning to Us

Author:  PK Corey

Number of Pages:  163

Themes:  Fulfillment, Belonging, Community, Honesty

Main Characters:

Susan Michaels:  Susan and her husband have been married for 35 years, and they have grown apart.  After their 3rd child marries, Susan is convinced her husband plans to leave her.

Hal Michaels:  Although Hal began their marriage with domestic discipline, he eventually fell into a pattern of only spanking when he wanted sex.

Brent Carmichael:  One of the developers of Corbin's Bend and president of the Housing Board.  Brent handles the interview with Hal and Susan before they are accepted into the community.

Aunt Quincy:  An outgoing boho-style older woman who is Susan's mentor when she arrives in Corbin's Bend.

Jason:  Is a wise, experienced man who is assigned to be Hal's mentor when the couple moves in.

Venia:  Another author in the Corbin's Bend community.  She welcomes Susan to a Book Club and invites her to attend a writer's conference.

Corbin's Bend is an established series from Blushing Books.  The premise is simple - a community of only people that believe that domestic discipline and spanking are the pillars of a happy marriage.  (Mmmm?  There's a thought.)  The unique feature is that the collection of stories is written by different authors.  So PK has joined the ranks of this group of women with the publication of her newest book. 

I am fairly sure I have mentioned in a previous review that there is a popular theory in the study of English literature that there are only 7 Basic Plots.  It is comprehensive including everything from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to Great Expectations to Bridget Jones's Diary.  One of the 7 plots is called "The Quest," and by the time I got to Chapter 3 in Returning to Us, I knew it was a quest.

The protagonist(s) set out to acquire an important object or achieve a goal.  They face obstacles along the way.  In PK's book the protagonists are Susan and Hal.  When they first married, Hal took the reins with his new wife.  There was some serious discipline, and although Susan protested, she knew it was what she had always wanted and needed.  And then Hal just let things go.  She would ask, and things would improve for a while, but soon, as he says himself, "I let you down."

Sometimes Susan and Hal were their own worst enemies.

The only time she felt his hand on her ass was when he wanted sex.  "Susan vowed to herself she would never mention a domestic discipline lifestyle again."  This quote brought tears to my eyes.  It was so heartfelt, and I thought this would touch the psyche of any woman who has ached for this to be a part of her marriage.

When Hal proposes the move to Corbin's Bend, Susan wants to believe that it would be for real, but she was wary and suspicious.  At first she was just so happy to know that he still loved her.  As they unpack boxes and meet people in their new home, they both are positive and hopeful.  Hal gets involved with helping out in the community, and Susan digs into her writing.

Soon there is trouble in paradise, though, and Hal is letting things go yet again.  Susan first turns resentful and resigned and then doubts herself.  "Hal is so good...Why do I get like this?  Why do I want more from this good man?"  This was so poignant and so real.

Neither one of them is ever really honest with their mentors.  The same behaviors that kept them distant in the past surface again.  The reader recognizes the dishonesty between Susan and Hal as well, especially when Susan answers, "Nothing, Hal.  Everything is fine."  Even if there was a mild spanking, Susan said it felt like a "drive-by."

The difference this time is that they are living in a community that expects that discipline will be taken care of at home.  When Susan begins to fall apart, the consequences in Corbin's Bend are very different.

Of all the things I loved about this book, there were two that really stood out.  They both spoke volumes about how PK Corey has grown in her writing.  The dialogue is very skilled.  It's real and it flows like a great screenplay.  Finally, I will tell you that of all the books this author has written and published, this is the one in which I see a piece of PK's heart and soul.  She has put her mark on this story for sure.  It's definitely a quest that Susan and Hal have undertaken.  Hope you read this wonderful book soon and discover how the quest ends.