Title: The Infinite Onion
Author: Alice Archer
Length: 439 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Hurt/Comfort
At a Glance: The Infinite Onion is a sweet and sentimental story, sharp and confrontational in its insights at times, and Archer’s voice remains captivating.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The truth is harder to hide when someone sharp starts poking around.
Grant Eastbrook hit the ground crawling after his wife kicked him out. Six months later, in Seattle without a job or a place to live, he escapes to the woods of nearby Vashon Island to consider his options. When he’s found sleeping outdoors by a cheerful man who seems bent on irritating him to death, Grant’s plans to resuscitate his life take a peculiar turn.
Oliver Rossi knows how to keep his fears at bay. He’s had years of practice. As a local eccentric and artist, he works from his funky home in the deep woods, where he thinks he has everything he needs. Then he rescues an angry man from a rainy ditch and discovers a present worth fighting the past for.
Amid the buzz of high summer, unwelcome attraction blooms on a playing field of barbs, defenses, and secrets.
Review: My love for Alice Archer’s Everyday History was a deep, visceral thing. In a sea of contemporary romance novels, Archer’s characters and their problematic entanglements stood out as something just that little bit different, and her lush and lyrical writing style clicked with me in a way that left me at a complete loss for words to describe it. It appears lightning has struck twice now, with The Infinite Onion. This gorgeous romance is chock absolutely full of all the charm and wisdom and metaphor that drew me into Everyday History, and I was equally drawn into the lives of its two emotionally chaotic men.
As Robert Frost once said, “The best way out is always through,” which becomes a test of endurance for both Grant Eastbrook and Oliver Rossi. They both must go through an often painful series of awakenings and accepted truths in order to find their way out of the complications that have kept them from living their best lives for so many years. First, however, they use their own histories and hurts to bleed their pain and project it onto each other, and it’s those moments of unfettered friction and denial that paradoxically begin to strengthen their connection to each other. The metaphor of the onion is there for a reason, as it becomes their individual mission to poke and prod at each other and to begin to peel back the layers of their lives and their external selves to get to the person beneath the skin. A good bit of self-reflection and inward examination doesn’t go amiss in helping the process along either.
A sense of purpose maintains a direct correlation with feelings of self-worth, a concept that Grant begins to unravel, thanks to Oliver, but only grudgingly. Grant resents that he’s been left to turn to Oliver for help. He utterly loathes that Oliver’s help comes with strings and conditions attached. Namely, Grant being unemployed, homeless, and flat broke isn’t due to Grant being unemployable, and so Oliver assigns tasks to Grant that force him to look at some unvarnished truths about himself—that he’s been habitually underperforming and not living up to his fullest potential. It cost Grant his marriage, for one. It has cost him his job and his self-respect along with it, for another. Oliver pushing and picking at him is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, however. These are two hurting people whose individual lives are in a bit of a shambles, who think they can fix each other, but they need to fix themselves first. The primary difference between them is that Oliver’s life is based on the illusion that he’s thriving.
The Infinite Onion is a story about two men whose lives are filled with hurt and distraction, in which comfort is discovered in the least expected of places. Grant and Oliver find simplicity and balance once they allow themselves to take a deep cleansing breath and face rather than hide behind what had been holding them back. It is a sweet and sentimental story, sharp and confrontational in its insights at times, and Archer’s voice remains captivating. This book wrung every spare bit of emotional investment out of me, which I gave up gladly.
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