BEYOND LOVE by d.d. Marx , the second book in the chick-lit author’s Beyond series, blends improbable romance, opulent social engagements, and an eye to the proverbial skies. Oh, and, as expected, plenty of cavorting and cocktails along the way. Protagonist Olivia Henry is hot off the high heels of exposing corporate misdeeds at her powerful pharmaceutical job. Seeking respite, she jets across the country from her lakeside Chicago condo to California and into the arms of her best bud and cousin Garrett.
What she doesn’t expect is the cosmic romantic intervention of her guardian angel Dan, a friend she lost in a tragic car accident. She meets Finn McDaniels, widower and in-demand chef, and jumps headlong into a whirlwind love affair. BEYOND LOVE finds Olivia making the leap from life in the city of big shoulders to the sun-splashed, star-dotted West Coast to shack up with Finn. But the transition doesn’t go as smoothly as she hopes with everything from family health scares to a terrorist attack and a deep dark secret bringing bumps along the way.
Marx’s work isn’t exactly rife with complex female characters. BEYOND LOVE is dressed up in the vernacular of mainstream womanhood using parties, marriages, breakups, and ample brushes with death as expected plot signposts. Olivia is the archetypal lady-about-town and she has the slew of giggly gal pals and connections with reality television stars to prove it. BEYOND LOVE demonstrates the kind of deliberate, pretty escapism the chick-lit genre is known for and its audience has come to expect. This story doesn’t attempt to subvert traditional notions of gender or relationships. In fact, it depends almost wholly upon them to propel the plot. The settings, mostly glittering backdrops for courtship and gab fests, come off as hollow and underdeveloped. Many of BEYOND LOVE’s characters are drawn as stereotypes of certain demographics, like Finn’s slow drawl business partner Jimmy, a.k.a Tex-Mex.
Where BEYOND LOVE does well is in its scenes of action. Marx has a keen ear for dialogue, however surface level its content may be. BEYOND LOVE’s linear plot and pacing also helps ground the reader in Olivia and Finn’s reality. Perhaps Marx’s pink-hued universe doesn’t make for a groundbreaking narrative, but BEYOND LOVE does provide whimsy and entertainment for those looking for an easy breezy read light on the heavy burden of the real world.
~Nicki Yowell for IndieReader