Cassidy Lane, by Maria Murnane
Publication: Lake Union Publishing; March 4, 2014
About the book:
2015 International Book Awards Winner in Fiction: Chick Lit/Women’s Lit
From the author who brought us the unforgettable Waverly Bryson and the bestselling Perfect on Paper series.
Bestselling author Cassidy Lane walks into her twentieth high school reunion with several novels under her belt, but no date on her arm, and deep down she still feels like the smart girl no one asked to the prom. Then handsome Brandon Forrester confesses his teenage crush, and soon Cassidy finds herself swept up in a modern-day fairytale romance not unlike the tales she spins for a living. While their relationship blossoms, however, the new book she’s writing isn’t going as well, and for the first time in her career she considers crafting an ending that doesn’t include a proverbial walk into the sunset. Contemplating the simultaneous reversal of her own romantic fortune and that of her protagonist’s is daunting, but maybe it’s time for both her writing and her personal life to take a new path. Or is it?
Filled with Murnane’s trademark wit and optimism, a charming cast of secondary characters, and loads of heart, Cassidy Lane will have you cheering for its heroine down to the very last delightful word.
I must begin this review by saying how bittersweet this is for me because there are no more Maria Murnane novels for me to read! My love for Maria’s writing began with Daphne in Wait for the Rain, which led to Bridges. Then I got completely swept up in the Waverly novels, as well as, Katwalk. Finally, I have finished all of her novels with Cassidy Lane, which was amazing.
Cassidy is a successful writer, living in New York City, has been somewhat unlucky in love, but very lucky regarding friends and family. Back home in California for her high school reunion, Cassidy tries to come to terms with the fact that she is now in her late thirties, successful but hasn’t followed the typical path of meeting Mr. Right, settling down, having children, etc. Surprised by all of the changes in her old classmates, Cassidy is very pleasantly surprised when she runs into Brandon – who has aged very well and become a handsome, successful, and divorced attorney. When Cassidy hears from him the next week asking to meet for a drink while he’s in New York for business, the two quickly develop a fun and close friendship that seems to have the potential of becoming much more.
Cassidy was an interesting, hilarious, sweet, caring – but perfectly flawed character. Despite her professional success and amazing friendships, Cassidy struggled with self-esteem and wondering what was wrong with her or why she hadn’t met the perfect guy yet. She struggled with having confidence in her writing, compared herself to others, and over-analyzed everything! However, the reason I loved her so much was that she was not a typical, fairytale character. She had issues. But with those issues came beauty, intelligence and an enormous capacity for love.
Cassidy had hilarious, blunt, no-filter, 100% honest friends in her life including Patti, Danielle, and Harper. The conversations between Cassidy and her friends were perfect examples of the laugh out loud banter that I have become obsessed with since reading Murnane’s novels. Whether serious, funny, casual, inappropriate and so on – the author’s writing makes you feel that these are real characters and that you are sitting right there with them over coffee or wine and are a part of the conversation. Brandon was also a huge part of this with the ongoing back and forth texting with Cassidy, however, the rapport wasn’t as dazzling when they were together in person as compared to the phone communication.
Although Cassidy Lane has an atypical ending, it left me with a happy, warm, fuzzy feeling. This novel was not about riding off into the sunset with the man of your dreams, but about loving yourself, loving your life, and embracing the things that make you happy. Cassidy started out with this ideal picture of happiness in her head, only to realize that true happiness looks different to different people and that it does not always come wrapped up in a perfectly romantic package. Another theme was the reminder that people are not always who we think they are. Cassidy loved characterizing people as she was out jogging, at a restaurant, etc. but learned throughout the novel that whether someone close to her or person where she guessed their “story” in her mind, we never really know what is going on in people’s lives or what they really want or need.
Despite all of my praise, I must say that I had a variety of emotions regarding the last sentence of the novel Really?? Why?? If the author is planning on re-visiting these characters at some point with a follow-up novel, then I’m o.k. with the ending, and actually, love it. However, since this novel was published in 2014, I’m kind of thinking that this is not Maria Murnane’s plan, which brings me back to my frustration! Regardless, I still love this novel and cannot recommend it enough to readers! Cassidy Lane is such a unique novel in that there is a blend of romance, friendship, family, and careers all mixed together preventing it from being categorized just as a romance or just a women’s fiction novel. If you like realistic characters and realistic situations, sprinkled with humor and romance, then you will love Cassidy Lane.
*Thanks to Maria Murnane for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review!