Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Review: Relatively Sane

By Sara Steven

Catriona Masterton’s family is not normal.

Her father has a passion for taxidermized animals that he dresses in the family plaid. Her mother has a penchant for hoarding kitchen gadgets and other oddities that leave her sanity in question. Her grandmother, Nan, has never met a swearword she doesn’t like.

Despite all this, party-planner Cat leaves the hustle and bustle of New York City to move back to her tiny hometown outside of Chicago. She even buys her parents' farm with plans to turn the barn into a stylish wedding venue.

Enter House to Home Television’s Renovation Brothers. Cat gets accepted as one of the show's projects, bringing two gorgeous brothers to her doorstep. Unbeknownst to Cat, the TV hosts are behind a secret her newfound boyfriend will go to great lengths to keep hidden.

With all the upheaval—her parents' chaotic move, her grandmother joyfully causing trouble wherever she goes, a film crew documenting her home being torn apart, and her boyfriend’s odd behavior—Cat's starting to wonder if signing up for a reality TV show was a big mistake.

Will the renovation be a success? Or will secrecy and jealousy make Cat regret the day she packed her bags and left New York? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Having read Relatively Normal, the first book in the Relativity Series (reviewed here), I eagerly anticipated the continued antics and mishaps of Cat and her unique family, a life I can relate to considering my own eccentric clan. While her parents were a bit more subdued due to all the changes occurring in their world, it was nice to see a more well-rounded side to them, to see how they handle the chaos and how Cat interacts with that. Then there’s Nan, who is one of my favorite characters in this series, most likely due to the similarities I see within my own grandmother. She says whatever, does whatever, and does not apologize for it! As off the wall as she appears to be, I feel she’s the glue that holds it all together and adds so much sparkle and life to every scene she touches.

I’m a closeted home renovation nerd. One of my biggest thrills in life has been the reintroduction of Trading Spaces, if that says anything. Reading through the scenarios with the Renovation Brothers gave me a glimpse behind the scenes, a distinct plot for Cat and the farm. She tries so hard to keep it all together, even with everything that goes wrong, an interesting mystery twist thrown in. I could feel the tension, the not knowing if the project would finish successfully, so much on the line for Cat. It was nicely balanced with the tension she feels with her family, her boyfriend, the crew on Renovation Brothers. A rocky road consisting of a lot of unknowns.

I could also relate with the issues that crop up between Cat and her boyfriend, Sam. Reasons for her to not completely trust what he says or what he does, making it hard for the both of them to maintain open communication. While there were still moments of romance between them, I appreciated that Cat’s decisions had been to take things slow, which placed more focus on what’s going on with her farm renovation, and the relationships had with family and friends. It was in this distance that I felt I learned a lot more about Cat and Sam as individuals, not just as a couple.

While Relatively Sane can be read on its own, I highly recommend reading Relatively Normal first. Not only because they’re both insanely funny, but there’s a chance to see the growth of the characters from book one to book two, a subtle evolution that really deepened my connections with all of them, with Nan still holding a special place in my heart. A well-deserved five star read!

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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