Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Maybe I can still make a great life for Brenna and me, here.”
Twenty-four year old single mother Catherine Wright never wanted to be the focus of her hometown’s attention again. That proves impossible to avoid when she risks her life to save a man from a burning car only to discover he is Brett Madden, a famous pro hockey player. Now she has to worry about her past being rehashed again, this time within her daughter’s hearing.
Catherine manages to keep her identity a secret until a townie outs her and Brett show up on her doorstep, eager to thank her for saving his life. What starts out a grateful friendship begins to grow into something as the chemistry sparks between Catherine and Brett. But Catherine has already been burnt badly by someone’s promises and she doesn’t trust the attraction growing between her and Brett because what can someone as special as him see in a nobody like her?
I will admit Until It Fades surprised me. As a long time fan of K.A. Tucker’s, I was shocked by how lightweight and predictable this story was. Tucker’s usual stories tend to be darker in conflicts and characterization. Though our heroine has had a tough row to hoe, she has survived with only some minor scrapes and bruises with some help from some friends.
Catherine Wright has lived in the small town of Balsam all her life. An affair with her high school English teacher (part of the town’s founding family) when she was sixteen led to her ostracization by the town and a huge falling out with her parents. At age eighteen, she moves out, secures a job waitressing at a local truck stop and discovers she’s pregnant. Now twenty-four, Catherine still works at the same job and with some government help, she is raising her little one all on her own.
Tucker tells Catherine’s backstory in great detail and merges it in with the present, taking up a lengthy portion of the story. I liked Catherine. She is honest in everything that has happened and the part she played in it. She spends quite a lot of time examining her relationships with her parents, her mother in particular, her siblings, the town, her friends, and even her own daughter. We learn she finally understands that it was the teacher who was in the wrong and that while the town wasn’t kind to her as a teen, it has grown and changed, just as she has, and quite a few of the townsfolk didn’t blame her for what happened.
Organic humor and an engaging narrative keep the story moving along though the romance is VERY slow to build. Catherine doesn’t trust anyone including herself and keeps our hero at arm’s length for most of the book. While I appreciated the realism behind Catherine’s emotional and mental struggles with everything that has happened, I found Brett’s attraction to Catherine questionable. Tucker makes sure to announce on several occasions that Brett’s attraction is unaffected by gratitude but I don’t see how it wasn’t. They don’t spend much time together and I never felt they got to know one another beyond a singular level. I felt a large part of that problem was the fact that Tucker spends so much time developing and characterizing Catherine and her inner circle. she seems to skimp on everything else-Brett and the romance.
A vibrant and personable cast of secondary characters adds to the energy of this storyline. Catherine and her daughter Brenna are a dynamic duo and I love how strong Brenna’s role is in here. Misty and Keith are Catherine’s best friends and it shows when they come to her rescue when she needs them most even if she doesn’t think she needs help. Catherine’s parents have their come to Jesus moment and I enjoyed seeing Catherine and her mother grow from their child/adult relationship into one of equal standing. I really wish the teacher who ruined Catherine’s life would have played a bigger role especially with the twist we get towards the end.
The ending is one in which fairy tales are written. Brett sweeps Catherine off her feet and takes her Brenna to the castle she drew about in her sketch book and they live happily ever after.
While I liked Until It Fades, it wasn’t a deep, meaningful, or particularly memorable book. It was a sweet opposite attraction romance with a low-key romance and some play on class differences. The perfect beach book.