The following review is part of my being in the author’s review team, which ensures that you can read it the moment the book comes out.
The first book of a series is there to know the lei of the land, so to speak, get to know the characters and, basically, clear the ground to build the foundation of what will, at some point, become the final product. Next comes the second book and adding more cement to the foundation. The third? Testing the series’ foundation.
A Most Excellent Midlife Crisis, the third of Robyn Peterman’s Good to the Last Death series, shows that its foundation is solid, hilarious, emotional, and full of paranormal action.
What is the book about?
There is nothing better than the book trailer to describe, in a short way, what the book is about.
If you haven’t reread the second book, no worries: the first chapter is the last one of Whose Midlife Crisis is it Anyway?, which made me think that it was new. Error, as the author pointed out to me. It was the same for the second book. Indeed. It was my bad.
In other words, the book picks up just after Gram’s funeral, when everyone is gathered in Daisy’s kitchen and discussing how they will prove (or not) that Steve does not belong to the darkness and that his death was not a suicide. For Daisy, it is the start of a new journey, with an array of new, impressive powers.
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible. You just have to believe.
If I could take just one sentence from the book to summarise it (or the whole series, so far), it would be this one. Daisy has a world of possibilities and a whole gamut of powers and abilities, but she is a 40-something woman and does, at times, lack self-confidence.
This part of her journey is no different. Because the whole “who did what and why” is not what matters the most. What does is how Daisy gets there in the end. This isn’t to say that the mystery part is not important. Au contraire! The big reveal of the book was totally unexpected and completely threw me! And the whole “fugitive” part of the action is absolutely gripping.
Characters I can’t get enough of
One of the things I love about this series, like with each one written by Robyn Peterman, is how relatable the characters are, albeit in their own paranormal way. I simply can’t get enough of them!
Daisy and Gideon
Daisy and Gideon are starting to build on the foundation they have set in the previous book, of which comes a scene with one of the loveliest metaphors. I admit that I could’ve gone without the whole “protection talk”, which I did find a bit long despite understanding the awkwardness and necessity of such talks. However, it did lead to a part that is as romantic as it is hot. I confess that Robyn Peterman is probably the author who writes the steamiest sex scenes in non-erotica books, with Darynda Jones a close second. And the one in this book is quite steamy.
The father-daughter relationship
Daisy just found out who her dad is, and circumstances force them to interact in a way which promptly forces her to try and wrap her mind around this newfound parentage. She does move on from “sperm donor” to “John Travolta”, but can she take the next step? Their budding relationship led to some scenes that made me all fuzzy inside and miss my own dad so much!
Steve, Daisy’s gay dead husband and forever best friend is the central character of the first part of the story, and the first time I completely welled up when I read the book. His nosiness is laugh-out-loud funny, especially when he is paired with Gram.
The secondary characters
I’ll take some Gram and Candy Vargo, please! These two together is one of the funniest relationships of the book. In fact, the more the series goes, the more I love Karma! And Tim the vibrator relocator, too. They are both so socially awkward that I can’t help but laugh, cringe, and laugh some more. Tim making a trivia contest with Jennifer is also delightfully odd. Pigs in a blanket, anyone? And please don’t get me started on Dick Johnson, or I will again start laughing like a fourth-grader.
Can Gram cuss? Yes, and it’s all sorts of amazing! And her courting with Jimmy Joe is as funny as it is cute, although also touching and sad. Talking about the squatters, we find out in an unexpected way why Birdie calls Daisy “hooker” all the time. I love that ghost so very much! She is one of the most hilarious characters, especially with that flipping habit which gave her her moniker.
Finally, I love that Heather and Missy got back together and that things seem to be getting more serious between them. There is a discussion between Daisy and her BFF which is a lesson for all those who simply don’t understand that love is love, and one of the most touching scenes of the book.
Parallels and references
John Travolta often replies to Daisy’s demands by saying, “As you wish.” So often that I had to ask Robyn Peterman about that obvious Princess Bride reference. Is it on purpose? Yes! It is one of her favourite movies. And as she pointed out to me, she uses it in other books, as well. True, but never as much as in this one.
Those who have read more of Robyn’s books will also see some parallels with other series. A sort of collection of Easter eggs for Peterman readers. A whole bunch of little tidbits which made this reader happy and giddy.
I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. In my opinion, this is the best book of the series so far, despite there not being enough of the all-women interaction between Daisy and her girlfriends and despite the long contraception conversation. The wait until My Midlife Crisis, My Rules, which is set to come out next January, will seem interminable.
A deserved five stars! ✰✰✰✰✰