Some might say that Lucky Pierce and her TV celebrity mom don’t get along, but the truth is they’re never really around each other enough to know. While her mother took to jet-setting around the world and burning through husbands, Lucky’s spent her post-adolescent years hopping from college to college in search of a major that might hold her interest. The last place she wants to be is back in Boston, pretending to have a relationship with her mother, but it’s their once a year “family dinner,” and she’s stuck.
She’s also stuck, it seems, in playing nice as her mother opens some fancy new restaurant with million thread count table cloths, gold chandeliers, and portions that wouldn’t feed a toddler. But when her mother takes off to New York days before the opening, Lucky finds herself with no choice but to make decisions without her.
The Verdict: I think I expected something more formulaic, so when the story proved to be more carefully thought out, I was very pleasantly surprised.
Lucky is a bit of a wanderer. Since her father died when she was young, she’s never fit into her mother’s new world, and she’s spent her adult years so far moving around as she tries to find her own place. It’s clear early on that she is in a figurative sense homeless. She doesn’t have a home with her mother, not even the usual doting housekeeper to give her any kind of stability, and aside from her best friend Bradley, she doesn’t seem to have roots anywhere. It seems like if she were ever to have a real problem, something that couldn’t be solved with money, she’d have nowhere to turn for any true support. Even Bradley isn’t acting quite normal around her, and Lucky seems to be a bit of a thorn between him and his girlfriend.
James hasn’t been close to his family since he was a teenager, but he’s found his calling and made a name for himself as an up and coming chef. He may not have been the winner on the reality television chef show, but he made an impression with Lucky’s mom, and now that she’s giving him reign over the menu and kitchen in her much anticipated new restaurant, he’s not going to blow it. Then again, he doesn’t expect his boss’s daughter to complicate things.
While Lucky and James don’t get off to the best start, it’s a realistic one. It’s more a matter of bad timing and a lack of caffeine than it is either of them having some deep personality flaw or outright angry persona. And when Lucky gets roped into working on opening the restaurant while her mom’s off doing God knows what, they have little choice but to be somewhat civil to each other, despite their unfortunate introduction. But instead of following the usual, over-the-top, angry story line that I’ve grown to expect from books like this, they go from annoyed strangers to tolerant coworkers to something more along the line of friends. And of course, friends who are that attracted to each other are bound to cross a line at some point.
It’s hard to explain what makes the Luck on the Line so great without summarizing the whole story, and I expect that would just spoil it. But I can say that it’s a heartfelt read, full of detailed observation, heartfelt emotion, and enough drama to keep turning the pages. On the surface, it’s familiar… The tragic past, the dysfunctional family dynamic, the refusal to conform, and the lust/hate relationship are all there. But instead of feeling like a tired plot device, the characters’ pasts simply serve to better explain who they are and how they became so lost. The family issues are intense and realistic, and while they do get resolved, they don’t magically get better overnight. Both Lucky and James are good people who aren’t throwing anger around like a weapon, but they are wary of attachment and often ruled by guilt.
And then there’s the drama. It wasn’t a collection of everything going wrong that possibly could or the trite miscommunication and overreactions. It felt necessary and real, part of the characters’ growth instead of some ploy to shock readers, and it was so subtly laid out that as things were revealed, I was just as surprised as the characters were.
It would have been easy to churn out a run-of-the-mill romance with typical characters, predictable plot twists, and contrived melodrama, but instead, Luck on the Line takes a standard romance novel plot and turns it on its head, delivering realistically flawed characters, believable tension, and a stand-out love story.