Review: That Thing Between Eli and Gwen by J.J. McAvoy


I’ve been waiting for this since reading and blogging about J.J. McAvoy‘s “Sugar Baby Beautiful.” I stayed up late last night just to devour it, actually. Obsessive, I know. 🙂 Couldn’t be helped, though, since I follow Ms. McAvoy on FB and she’s been posting teasers and contests about it since early-April.

Eli and Gwen’s story was unusual for me to read. It can be real – I mean, the whole time I was reading the first part of the book, I thought, OMG, they are Shania Twain and her second husband, Frederic Thiebaud. If you don’t know who they are, what rock have you been living under? Gwen is a beautiful, multicultural, artistic, Alaskan woman; she was also blatantly cheated on by her fiancĂ©, who literally ran away with another man’s bride on the said bride’s wedding day. (Now, doesn’t that remind you a little bit of Shania??) Eli is her polar opposite: a neurosurgeon, alpha male with a gung-ho attitude. I don’t know how Shania’s second husband is like, but, man, he made Gwen (and me) feel like a woman. All pun intended.

When I said the story is “unusual,” believe me, I meant that IT’S GOOD. Ms. McAvoy is not a cookie-cutter type of writer. THANK GOD. I just read and abandoned A.M. Madden‘s “Back-Up” book right before I finally stopped resisting reading about Eli and Gwen. The 2 authors’ styles could not be any more different. Ms. Madden made her heroine a simpering, crotch-clenching fool. Ms. McAvoy portrayed Gwen as a strong woman with solid family foundations, who can actually THINK on her own; OMG, she is rich, because she worked for it; she does not define her femininity based on her womb and ovaries (Yes, people, not all women have reproductive organs that are ticking time bombs!). She didn’t immediately fall for Eli’s ape-like asshole ways – which is great, because NOBODY likes assholes. Until Eli became more likable, Ms. McAvoy did not let her heroine fall for any antics. Now, THAT’s what I call a heroine.

There weren’t any annoying minor characters, either, in “That Thing Between Eli and Gwen.” Both of Eli and Gwen’s former partners, Hannah and Bash, knew they were pieces of shit. They did try to get back in their ex-lovers’ good graces, which is cliched, but, hey, we need a little bit of drama in the story. There’s a bit more of a twist from Hannah near the end, and I can’t help but think, okay, some women still need to be portrayed as scheming lunatics, but it’s not so bad as how antagonistic women are shown in other books I’ve read. At least, Ms. McAvoy didn’t hold back on showing readers how Bash is still scum of the century in the end – so, yay for gender equality, in terms of these two anti-heroes, at least.

The ending was a bit abrupt, I must say. Again, it’s real and believable. I actually liked how Ms. McAvoy didn’t make their HEA so Cinderalla-ey. Gotta add, though, that the lengthy epilogue read like it was the real ending, and there should have been another (real) epilogue afterwards. Like, oh, how did Gwen interact/relate to Sophie, how did Eli feel standing on an altar again, etc. But, oh well, maybe Ms. McAvoy would write an extended epilogue? Just saying.

Overall, I came away sighing in happiness. I didn’t read the teaser chapters of Ms. McAvoy’s new book at the end of “That Thing…,” because I don’t want to be tortured until July. But you can bet I’m looking forward to it.


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