Caroline Moore is a successful single attorney in Chicago with a lot on her plate. Her parents died when she was young, and Caroline was raised by her grandfather - who has recently passed away, leaving Caroline with no family at all. However, Caroline finds a letter in her grandfather’s desk that implies that there may be another living family member – and that her true, biological grandfather is another man named Karl.
This startling discovery is enough in and of itself, and Caroline wants to get to the bottom of this family secret that she hadn’t known existed until now. When Caroline’s significant other abruptly informs her that he is reuniting with his ex-wife and their two sons, the rejection gives Caroline the nudge she needs to take a leave of absence from work and rent a small lakeside cottage where her real grandfather resided (or may still reside, if he is alive). What Caroline’s ex does not know is that Caroline is pregnant – but now that she is being dumped, she keeps the pregnancy a secret, at least for the time being.
Caroline is in her early forties and never married; this baby may be her last chance to become a mother. Further, the news of Caroline’s pregnancy will not pave the way for her ex’s intended family reunion. While many women would gloat about their pregnancy under these circumstances, Caroline is not that type of woman. She takes the breakup with dignity and remains silent about her condition.
As Caroline arranges for an extended leave at work, she efficiently works on settling her grandfather’s estate and prepares to spend the summer in a new-to-her small town on Lake Michigan. Caroline cautiously befriends a man named Shane when she enquires of the local folk about the whereabouts of her biological grandfather, Karl. Apparently, Shane has known Karl his entire life. In fact, Karl was a second father to Shane, who came from a less than idyllic family home. Now Karl is ailing and resides in a respite home. Shane has Durable Power of Attorney over Karl’s matters, as well as being a frequent visitor to Karl, although Karl’s memory is not what it used to be.
While Caroline has thrown most of her adult life into working, she adapts quickly to the slower pace of the small town and is drawn into a group of women who meet weekly to chat, talk about men, children and life. These weekly sessions are held at Tori’s house, the realtor who located the summer rental for Caroline and extended an invitation to Caroline to join the “girls’ group.” Caroline bonds easily with these women, and she enjoys their weekly chat sessions at Tori’s house.
Sheer chance and a lack of communication turn things upside-down for Caroline. She is slowly but surely developing feelings for Shane, and it becomes clear that he reciprocates those feelings. His wife, Vickie, divorced him eleven years ago. Now Shane and Vickie’s only tie - but an important one – is their fifteen-year-old son, Andy, who is deeply depressed over a tragic loss for which he blames himself. When Caroline discovers that “Vickie” is actually Tori, things are stirred up in a huge way. Though I will not comment further (to save the suspense for the readers), a rocky road lies ahead of Caroline, and motherhood is just the first of it. Ex’s and Oh’s is one of the better NEXT books that I have read, to date, and I highly recommend it to fans of women’s fiction and romance.