By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
Three-Star books fall into two very different categories, with me. Most of the time, my three star ratings mean a book hasn't made me feel much of anything, and my thoughts upon turning the last page boil down to, "Meh, didn't love it; didn't hate it. It's okay." Every once in a while, though, a book comes around where my reading experience wasn't mediocre. These books do make me feel things, but the rating comes back to three stars because the things I really like get cancelled out by the things I really dislike, so the end result is still, "Meh, didn't love it; didn't hate it,"--even though the process of how I reach that rating is very different.
Crazy Thing Called Love is such a book. This was my first full-length Molly O'Keefe romance (I'd read her story in Summer Rain and really liked it), and I'll probably read more even though I didn't love this book.
This is a second chance romance between Billy and Maddy, who were childhood sweethearts, but Billy's graceless adjustment to his newfound fame when he got drafted into the NHL ruined their marriage. Fourteen years later, Billy's hockey career is drawing to a bitter end, as he's been reduced to a benchwarmer on a second-rate team, while Madelyn has reinvented herself, and her star is on the rise. She's shaken off her blue collar roots and enjoying modest fame as the beautiful, polished host of a morning news show in Dallas. Their paths cross again when Billy's agent and Maddy's producers arrange for Billy to be the subject of a makeover series on Maddy's show, much to her dismay.
I really liked the emotional intensity of this story. Billy, especially, worked through a lot of baggage over the course of this story, and it felt real and gritty and honest without being too angsty and melodramatic. Over the course of flashbacks sprinkled throughout the narrative, the reader learns a lot about Billy's childhood, the devotion he's always had for Maddy (though he hasn't always had the ability to express himself), and about his feelings of inadequacy as he faces the end of his career and the sad realization that he isn't the person he wants to be.
I really didn't like Madelyn, though. I never connected with her. She is intentionally cold and unreceptive to Billy for 90% of the story, and though rationally I understand, plot-wise, why she behaved that way, her emotional frigidity felt like an overreaction to Billy's youthful indiscretions. I know that her icy facade was just a front, but it was so effective, that I couldn't bring myself to like her character enough to care about her story. I was also put off by all of her internal monologues about food and exercise. I get that she's worked her tail off to look skinny and gorgeous in front of the camera, and I know that the message of the book was that those efforts were misdirected, and that she was obsessed with appearances and not noticing that her seemingly perfect life was actually pretty empty (much like her starved stomach), but it just added to my sense of dislike and disconnect with Maddy's character.