After Donovan’s house burns down, he is not quite sure where his life is going anymore. With insurance adjusters still wrangling over his house, he knows it will be a while before he can buy another place to live, if he can even afford one. So he takes his friend up on her offer to stay on her houseboat in a community marina, figuring it will give him time to regroup and reassess.
When Donovan meets Leaf, the marina manager, he is immediately attracted to the gorgeous, vibrant man. But Donovan is not interested in starting something with Leaf. He needs to get his life sorted out and he doesn’t have time for a relationship or even the distraction of a hook up. Plus, Leaf seems so flighty; he is not the kind of guy Donovan needs right now. But the more Donovan gets to know Leaf, the more he begins to realize that maybe a structured, regulated life isn’t what he really wants. And maybe this man who is so full of life is exactly the perfect guy for him after all.
I will admit, as a Sound of Music fan, I was drawn to this one by the title (How do you solve a problem like Maria?). Leaf is the titular character, a man who is just so lively and happy. He talks nonstop, you can rarely get him down, and he looks at things with a glass half full attitude all the time. Honestly, you can’t help but love him. His attitude is infectious and what gets poor Donovan out of his funk and back into living.
Donovan, on the other hand, has been dealt a bad hand and is still not fully back together yet. The fire terrified him, his life is uprooted, and he is certain he needs to regroup on his own in order to move forward. I could feel sympathetic for Donovan, having experienced such trauma, even as I found him a bit stodgy and rigid. He has this idea in his head of how things should be and it takes him a while to let go and just live a little. The fact that Leaf is smoking hot doesn’t hurt as incentive either. I am not totally sure what about him appeals to Leaf, however, other than being cute and the challenge of it all. But I did feel for him as he tries to get himself back together after the fire.
I did find the whole transformation from uptight, desperate for control guy to free and easy went a bit fast. I liked to see him let loose and enjoy life, but it did seem that even with the power of some good loving, things turn around for Donovan remarkably fast. It seemed to be days, or maybe a week or two at most from start to finish? There is no clear time line but I would guess days if I had to. I also didn’t have much of a sense for the kind of guy Donovan was before all this. Did this need for control come after the fire as an attempt to get his life together, or was he always like this? We really don’t get to understand his personality on a larger scale. I also will say I found myself annoyed at his constant internal attitude that Leaf was irresponsible and not a grown up. Yes, Leaf lives life free and easy, and yes, he is pretty much always happy and optimistic. But that doesn’t mean he is irresponsible. He holds down a job, he seems to have his life together. There is nothing to suggest the man is a bad bet in any way, despite Donovan’s attitude.
But in the end I found this novella light and sweet. Leaf is endearing, I liked seeing Donovan let go and enjoy life a little, and the two men end up being cute together. Okati does a nice job showing us life on the lake and makes it definitely sound appealing. So entertaining and a nice light read.