This, readers, is the last in the string of romances I read for the latest and greatest piece about the industry. So Happy Togetherby Maryann McFadden (Pub. date July 7) isn’t bad, and probably more in line with “women’s fiction” than what you’d typically think of in romance. There isn’t, for example, any blatant descriptions of sex. The heroine isn’t wronged by a man to kick off the story, and there really isn’t a romantic rival. It might not even be clear who the hero is (though I could tell).

The story’s about Claire Noble (nice name, eh?). She’s about to start her new life — she’s engaged and moving from New Jersey to Arizona after the marriage. After taking care of her daughter as a single parent, and then her aging parents, it’s time for her to finally live. But when said daughter, who had left home in a huff years before, shows up practically crowning a grandchild, everything changes. Obviously. It’s not every day an estranged daughter comes home and has a baby in the bathroom.

Overall, it was OK. Probably too long and drawn out in places (the whole whale thing in Cape Cod was too long and read at parts like the characters were asking questions just to give us background — which would be fine, but it was almost textbook like), but I enjoyed it and kept turning back to it at night. I cared about the characters. I even got into bed early last night so I could finish it. It’ll make a good beach book.

I have one big problem with the book, though: the inclusion of New Jersey Monthly.

Now, I like New Jersey Monthly. I work for them and have been known to call the magazine “the man” but in a good way because it is a man I enjoy working for. In the novel, Claire wants to become a photographer. She is hired by an environmentalist to take pictures of an article he’s working on. Turns out that magazine is New Jersey Monthly.

A few things:

1. Writers don’t hire photographers. Ever.
2. There’s no way the magazine would allow an unproven and unpublished photographer shoot photos for a big feature — especially not in black and white film.
3. What budget are they using that writer can rent a house for three months and the magazine pay for it? While he’s not working on any other stories? I don’t think “the man” would be giving that budget. If so — Ken, we need to talk.

I say this partly in jest. I laughed so hard when I got to the New Jersey Monthly parts that I had to put the book down. But it irked me because it broke down the wall between fiction and reality, and in doing so was inaccurate.

You might think I’m being nit picky, and maybe I am. It probably won’t phase another reader. But the magazine is “the man,” and I feel weird seeing its name flung around like that — and hopefully I won’t be getting calls from black and white film photographers begging me to hire them.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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