Reviewed by Mandi
Last year I read The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher, a very powerful novella about two people who meet when they are on a bridge ready to commit suicide. As you can probably guess, these two end up leaving this bridge and falling in love. In those short pages, Maher really excelled at giving us a very dark, emotional love story.
Tanya takes place during the wedding of Henry and Christa from The Bridge. Tanya is Christa’s sister – a recovering alcoholic who comes into town late one night for the wedding weekend celebrations, and heads straight to the bar to stare at the liquor. Although she only drinks seltzer water, she likes to punish herself with feeling guilty. Growing up with a drug-dependent mother, Tanya was raised by her sister and always feels like she is the selfish one. When their mother became sick with addiction, Tanya turned to the bottle. When she gets the phone call that their mother died of an overdose Tanya turns to the bottle. It isn’t until Christa is diagnosed with breast cancer, that Tanya decided to get help. But even two years later, she feels like she isn’t worthy to live a life that will give her happiness. So she turns to anonymous sex.
When he sat down across from me – all six feet of him – I figured, shit, it’s my lucky day. A good-looking guy when I would have taken anything with a pulse. I’m not choosy when I get like that. Sometimes the dirtier they are, the better. It’s the filth of it I’m after, the vague sense of self-punishment, of eating something bad for me. I like when they’re mean, or sexist, or stupid. I like taking what I want from these men, and then shoving them out the door.
But this guy. His restlessness is what got to me, the fact that he couldn’t keep still. I wanted to push him down onto a bed and force him to stop moving. To lie there and be good and take it.
And he did. He did that.
Jack is the hero’s brother from The Bridge. Jack has just returned from the Peace Corps in Guyana, and has no idea what to do with his life. Growing up extremely privileged, then working in a very poor area that past two years and now thrust back into New York City, Jack feels lost. When Tanya makes eyes at him from across the bar and propositions him, his legs are following her before he can even think straight.
Jack may come across as more of the one in control of his life and his self, but Tanya kind of forces a side of Jack to the front that shocks even him. But he is happy for it.
I flip her over to her back. I feel her breath on my neck, gasping. She bites me, and I fall against her and then move faster.
“Give it to me.” I grab the back of her knees and push, going deeper. “Give it.” I have no idea where these words come from. They’re like nothing I’ve ever heard myself say. They rise up from some deep underground place in me that I’m not even sure I want to know.
This book has some really good, intense love scenes. Just sayin’!
I love this author’s voice. An erotic novella that uses sex to show the vulnerabilities these two are facing. They both feel lost in life – and I think they both feel like they don’t deserve to be happy. They are so happy for their siblings who have gone through so much and have found such love, but they don’t know how to embrace this feeling. They speak through their physical actions in the bedroom and then we have a very nice romantic ending.
What I think this author excels at in a short setting is giving us very broken characters who are not magically healed because they fall in love. Tanya will always struggle with being an alcoholic. It will take Jack time to find his purpose in life. Christa and Henry from The Bridge are still dealing with battling depression. These characters have heavy issues…and they also fall in love.
Very much looking forward to another book.