By K J
The blurb from the publisher…
Emily Fitzsimmons, award-winning architect, creates meticulous plans for every aspect of her life, which is understandable considering her difficult childhood. After all, prudence keeps her safe. Lately, though, too many of those comforting plans are disintegrating and Emily is forced to function spontaneously which has spiked her anxiety so much, she’s put her therapist on speed-dial.
Skye Reynolds, bike courier entrepreneur, knows all about exploding plans. That’s literally how she lost her job when her company blew up a 40,000-year-old world heritage site. But Skye is not someone who asks for help to reassemble her life blueprints, which is lucky as she nearly always lands on her feet whenever she happily ignores prudence to embark on any new adventure.
When Skye’s ad hoc dirt track intersects with Emily’s carefully paved freeway, their lives are thrown into disarray, with the added complication of their unexpected attraction. Prudence plays tricks on both of them when they choose to navigate their true paths and explore the direction of their relationship.
Sometimes a change of plans is all you need to see what lies ahead.
Change of Plans is a triumphantly tender story of overcoming life’s disappointments and surviving its losses. Mostly, however, it’s about finding peace, acceptance and love in a world that seems hell-bent on stacking the cards against you. This engaging and heartfelt story is absolutely gorgeous and masterfully showcases KJ’s skill as a storyteller. Her ability to write wonderfully complex and heartfelt characters is nicely demonstrated in her newest piece of fiction.
Emily and Skye are fantastic leads. They are richly layered and beautifully complex. Readers like them and appreciate their flaws as well as their strengths. But, what really resonates with readers is Emily and Skye’s unvarnished vulnerability. They honestly expose themselves and readers connect with that. Their touchingly tender moments are exquisite to experience as a reader.
KJ’s writing style is fresh and vivid. I was continually captivated by the insightfully raw narrative. The storytelling within these pages is nothing short of authentic, moving and real. Thoughts and emotions are brightly illuminated with her word choice and construction. I highlighted so many passages during this read. They were just so poignantly worded; I continually found myself moved. KJ knows how to capture the emotion of a moment so splendidly; she simply puts you there with her words.
The following highlighted excerpt is a perfect example. This scene takes place a few weeks after Skye and Emily meet. Emily is supremely frustrated with things at work, and Skye lends an ear and lets her vent. It’s a lovely scene, and in my opinion, KJ just nails it.
“When I get frustrated, I climb a tree. Want to go climb one of my favourites?” Skye suggested.
Emily tilted her head and looked quizzically at Skye. There was a beat, and their breathing seemed to synchronise. Then she nodded contemplatively. “Okay. Yes. I’ll climb a tree with you.” A slow smile pulled her lips.
The walk to the park was brisk in light of the cool breeze that had picked up…. Eventually, they arrived at the enormous Moreton Bay fig tree at the high point in the park. Skye waved her hand, like a shopping channel presenter. “My thinking tree. One of many in the city, but this one’s my favourite. Don’t tell the others.” She bumped Emily’s shoulder, who laughed.
“It’s a beautiful tree…Okay, where do we start?”
Skye grinned again, then grabbed Emily’s hand. “Let’s go.”
She led Emily around to the other side of the trunk and pointed out the branches that could be used to clamber up. Emily went first and Skye forced her eyes not to stare at her backside because she was supposed to be assisting, not ogling. She followed Emily up until they reached a large, fairly horizontal branch.
“Hang on. We stop here. This is the meditation sorting-things-out branch,” Skye said, and Emily twisted to position herself on the wide limb, scooting over slightly so Skye could fit into the space between her body and the trunk. Then Emily warmed Skye’s arm and thigh when she shuffled sideways again so she could use Skye as a brace. The mechanics of breathing became Skye’s focus for a moment.
They sat in silence for a while.
“I like this,” Emily whispered.
“All of it. The silence. The not-quite silence. It feels like the tree is holding my thoughts for me.”
“It does. Sometimes it’s nice to pass them off for a bit so your head can relax.”
Emily hummed. “True.”
I loved that scene. Readers see a rawness and a youthfulness in these two characters that is usually tucked away from the world at large. It is refreshing to see this other side of them. Skye demonstrates nothing but compassion for Emily. Skye’s a natural fixer, and she longs to offer reassurance and solace to Emily. Emily, on the other hand, is buttoned-up and fearful of change. Emily likes control, and Skye threatens that control—and somehow Skye understands that. But, the most important thing here is this: Emily shows readers she’s capable of letting her guard down and opening herself up to unscripted possibilities. This comes with nurturing patience from Skye, but it does come. With that in mind, this tree becomes symbolic; this is where their relationship takes root.
I enjoyed watching the relationship develop between these two characters. Skye and Emily’s romance builds slowly and organically. It is neither forced or rushed. It feels right. There are times when the characters’ emotions run wild and intense and they are both very reactive to it all, but KJ manages to keep it real. She uses her characters’ honesty and introspection to keep the romance believable. I bought into it, and I certainly cheered it on. I wanted it for them because it made sense in their world and mine.
Change of Plans is a marvelous story. Well-penned and soundly crafted, it is one you will most definitely want to add to your reading list. Skye and Emily are beautiful souls that will make an impression on you. They are ordinary, yet brave women learning to be comfortable with themselves in a cluttered and chaotic world. I will miss them and will need to visit them again someday.
- Wonderful characterization
- Bright, fresh writing style
- Insightful storytelling
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