A Brighter Spark manages to be both perfectly ordinary and thoroughly revolutionary, in that it's a story of a woman who meets a man and they date and fall in love, and it's a romance novel in which people are fallible, responsible, kind to each other, and recognizable people... I'll just cut to the chase: the hero is not a douchebag.
Repeat: The hero is not a douchebag.
For some of you that might make it a must-miss, I don't know, but Daniel is sweet and considerate and doesn't try to take Suzy to places she isn't ready to go. He's not mean to her and she doesn't want him to be. The only things scaring Suzy in this novel are whether, despite being a mother already, she's ready to be a grown-up in a grown-up relationship -- and of the possibility of getting hurt. But it's worth it for the sake of feeling alive again, which is what falling in love with Daniel gives her.
There are other little rebellions: Suzy's rant against the women's magazines, her unashamed sexual drive, her friendship with the father of her children who also happens to be in a relationship with another man. It's like -- and I'm pretty sure this is what happened -- the author read a romance novel and thought "Let's fix this shit."
It's not my favourite genre and it's still a problem that falling in love doesn't make for a very solid plot on its own, but as a piece of sweet, reassuring fiction, like a hug and a pat to tell you it's all going to be alright, it might be just what the doctor ordered.