Review: Big Girls Don't Cry (Dundee, ID #6) by Brenda Novak

Big Girls Don't Cry (Dundee, Idaho Series) - Brenda Novak

Pretty much spoil the entire book, so be ye warned.

Seventy percent of this book deals with Keith's losing control of his bigamy, the revelation of said bigamy, and the fall out from the dissolution of both marriages. I could not stop reading this totally bonkers part of the story, even though I hated Keith with the fire of a thousand suns and I wasn't connected to Reenie (wife #1) or Liz (wife #2) or Isaac (brother of Liz and the one to discover Keith's secret). Seriously, engrossing in a very soap opera sort of way.


After the last two Novak books I read, I knew going in that this book would include some off-the-wall family dynamics. Liz and Isaac lost their mother in childhood and lived unhappily with their dad and emotionally and verbally abusive step-mom for the rest of their childhood. Isaac went to university, becoming a PhD in biology and working to save the forest elephants of Africa; Liz became a flight attendant, which is how she met Keith, who had already been married to Rena (Reenie as a nickname - and can I say how much I hated this name!) for about 3 years. Rena and Keith live a lower middle class/upper working class lifestyle in the small town of Dundee, ID (about a hour from Boise). Keith's software company had moved headquarters to Los Angeles, so he had to commute every two weeks. Liz got pregnant and Keith married her and settled in LA, leaving for Dundee every two weeks to spend time with Rena and their three daughters.


At the beginning of the book, Rena had been married to Keith for 11 years and Liz had been married to Keith for eight years (and had a second child). Liz and Keith lived an upper class life, with a big house, part time nanny, and a membership to the country club. Keith was struggling to keep both families going and was stressing about someone finding out his secret. Isaac had just returned from Africa and was visiting his sister, when he was called back to his home base of Chicago as Keith was supposedly heading to Phoenix for a business trip; Isaac ended up following Keith through the airport and both landed in Dundee. Isaac started to investigate Keith and the small town and discovered his secret. A phone call home to Liz over heard by Rena brought Keith's secret to light.


Keith, grade A+ asshole he was, quickly dropped his second family to rush home to Rena and the girls in the hope of rescuing his first family; he left his daughter at gymnastics class with another dad and didn't explain his departure or talked to his son before leaving. Liz would not go quietly into the night and on a whim, decided to move herself, Isaac, and the kids to Dundee. Through plot manipulations, the town found out about the bigamy and the kids of both women found themselves with half-siblings. When Rena decided to go through with the divorce, Keith decided to try (half-heartedly) to make up with Liz, who had begun deepening a relationship with her tennis coach from the country club back in LA through long phone conversations. Liz decides to annul her marriage to Keith, leaving him out in the cold (couldn't happen to a nicer guy). In the end, Rena and Liz form a friendship and the kids grow into a strong friendship with each other, leaving Keith out in the cold again.


In a twist, Rena tries a short term affair with Isaac that blossomed into love complete with a marriage proposal. That was the other 30% of the book and I didn't buy it for a damn nanosecond. It was a slog to get through and included the death of a family pet (due to cancer), because heroines in Novak's books have to suffer heaps of terrible circumstances. The romance killed this book for me, enough to only rate it 1.5 - 2 stars.