Title: Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 417 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Blueprints, the new novel from bestselling author Barbara Delinsky, is the story of two strong women, Caroline MacAfee, a skilled carpenter, and her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. The day after her 56th birthday, Caroline is told the network wants Jamie to replace her as the host on Gut It!, their family-based home construction TV show. The resulting rift couldn’t come at a worse time.
For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiancé who doesn’t want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It!
For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. When her ex-husband dies, she is thrust into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there’s Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself.
Who am I? Both women ask, as the blueprints they’ve built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other.
Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky is a very charming novel about a mother and daughter whose close relationship becomes strained due to a job conflict. Their professional issues are further complicated by unexpected changes in their personal lives which puts even more distance between them. Although a bit of a slow starter, this compelling story quickly gains momentum and thunders its way to a delightfully unconventional conclusion.
Caroline MacAfee and her daughter Jamie are more than mother and daughter, they are also best friends. Both work for the family owned company, MacAfee Homes, and they also star in a popular reality show, Gut It!. Not long the current season draws to a close, Jamie learns that the show’s producer wants her to replace her mom as the show’s host when filming resumes in the fall. Jamie delays telling her about the switch and when Caroline learns the news from someone else, not only is she devastated but she also feels betrayed by her daughter. Before the pair can repair the rift between them, Jamie’s father and stepmom are killed in an accident and she becomes the guardian of her 2 year half-brother, Tad. While Jamie is struggling to cope with her new role, Caroline begins taking over more duties at MacAfee Homes and the gulf between them widens when the two begin keeping secrets about their personal lives.
Caroline’s marriage was doomed almost from the beginning but her divorce still did a lot of damage to her self-esteem. It was not until she took over hosting duties on Gut It! that she finally began to believe in herself and finding out that she is being replaced by Jamie really shakes her self-confidence. After her ex-husband’s death, Caroline finds herself turning to her old friend Dean Brannick for comfort and when he reveals he would like more from her than just friendship, her long dormant libido comes roaring back to life. While Caroline is willing to give in to her newfound desire, she is in no hurry to give up her independence when Dean admits he would like to make their relationship permanent.
Jamie is way out of her element when she becomes Tad’s guardian and she quickly discovers her fiancé Brad is unhappy with this unanticipated change in her life. Feeling like she cannot turn to Caroline for advice, Jamie gets helpful advice from single dad, Charlie Kobik. This new friendship forces Jamie to confront some unpleasant truths about her engagement and she impulsively makes a few decisions that shock everyone she knows.
There are numerous story arcs in Blueprints but all of the threads tie neatly together in the end. The change in dynamics between mother and daughter is necessary for them to grow in both their personal and professional lives. The romance aspect of the storyline is very sweet and although a bit rushed, the relationships are believable. Barbara Delinsky closes the novel with a lovely epilogue that is very heartwarming. All in all, an enjoyable, thought-provoking story that I highly recommend to anyone who reads contemporary women’s fiction.