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Heidi Betts

REVIEW: Knock Me for a Loop by Heidi Betts

REVIEW: Knock Me for a Loop by Heidi Betts

Dear Ms. Betts:

Knock Me for a Loop by Heidi BettsI came across your book cleaning out my towering stash of review copies that needed sorting and sending out to the reviewers. I read the back and realized that it had a hockey hero. I love sports books and I set it aside to read. When I opened, it however, it started with some magical frou frou prologue that saw some grandmotherly type infusing magic into some yarn. The magic is used to bring couples together because why? Is it that humanity left to their own devices could never find love without the help of magic yarn? The yarn bit played no part in the story, merely book ended the book, appearing in the prologue and the last chapter.

But the yarn bit is emblematic of how the other distinguishing characteristics are treated: shallowly and without much thought. Grace Fisher, a daytime talk show host out of Cleveland, and Zack Hoolihan, the star goalie of the Cleveland hockey team, had a spectacular breakup after Grace found a girl in Zack’s hotel room during an away game. When Zack injures his knee and refuses to rehabilitate, only Grace can get him out of his doldrums and forced together, Grace must reexamine Zack’s claims of innocence.

Grace is fairly dumb. She goes to Zack’s room. He not only invites her in, but lifts her bodily into the room and then starts kissing her, assisting her in removing her clothes. As they move toward the bed, Grace notices a girl in lingerie propped up there. Her first thought isn’t that some groupie snuck in but that Zack cheated on her and what? just conveniently forgot the body of cheating evidence waiting for him on the bed? Strangely no one, not Grace, not her friends, or even Zack points out how ridiculous it is that he would have INVITED her in and proceeded to maneuver her toward the bed when he already had a chick there.

But then Zack is no brainiac:

Zack–formerly “Hot Legs”–Hoolihan sat in his wheelchair, left leg propped straight out in front of him, staring at the fifty-two-inch screen of the state-of-the-art plasma television taking up nearly every square inch of the far living room wall.

His friends had been so damn impressed when he’d bought the thing…Little did they know his main reason for replacing his perfectly good thirty-two-inch flat screen was because he’d needed something to hide the hole Grace had left.

First, a hockey player who has more money he can spend in three lifetimes (per the book) would not be amazed by a fifty two inch flat screen. Those can be bought for less than a grand. Neither would his professional hockey playing buddies be impressed by this. I don’t know many men that would be. Further, a fifty two inch screen that took up “nearly every square inch of the far living room wall” would mean that the living room was about 4 feet wide. I certainly hope that a professional athlete, making millions, would live in an apartment that had more space than a kindergartner laying down.

(What hockey trophy could Grace have stuck in the wall? I looked up a list of them and couldn’t find one that had an “ass end” that could hang out of the wall)

And you continued to make a big deal out his television:

“Give them a week and they’d be back, ready to watch the next big game on his fifty-two inch plasma…”

“He’d put up a gaint, flat-screen televeision–even bigger than his old one, which had been mammoth…”

But let’s move beyond the giant 52″ flat screen in the professional hockey player’s living room which is apparently the size of a single man tent to the hockey player himself. The plot here is that Zack refuses to start rehabilitating because he has been told he might not be able to play again. A star goalie of a professional hockey team is not going to be allowed to languish neither would his drive to compete, to be the best, allow him to do so. Someone from the team would be there, doing something. He probably would have a contractual obligation.

Zack had no motivation. He mentions nothing about his team. Doesn’t watch them on TV. Doesn’t miss the ice, the competition. Doesn’t even watch ESPN. He knits and watches soap operas.* Seriously what is the point of making Zack a professional athlete if you aren’t going to include ANYTHING about the sport at all. He doesn’t have any close teammates? No one from his team visits him in the 6 week span of this freaking book?

So maybe Zack is the Barry Bonds of his hockey team and no one likes or talks to him. Let’s move on to his injury. He has some problem with his knee but he “woke from surgery with a hip to toe cast.” What kind of knee problems involves a hip to toe cast? And if he has a hip to toe cast, he wouldn’t be a) in a wheelchair a month later and b) without a cast and c) having had missed three rehabilitation attempts already!   And this is hockey. A brutal sport were fights are an accepted part of the game.   A knee injury? That’s nothing to these guys.

Later in the book Zack agrees to do a photoshoot with Grace for her favorite underwear manufacturer, Inside Outs. Why would a daytime talk show host do underwear endorsements that could be worn on the outside? How does that fit the image? And you don’t think that Zack’s team would be incensed that he is off trotting to New York to get his picture taken when he’s supposed to be rehabbing his knee and preparing to get back in the game so that they can make the playoffs?

And why would a daytime talk show host like Grace be qualified to help him through rehabilitation like ensuring he is safely extracted from a shower or getting him dressed or moving him around (based on home exercises sent home by his orthopaedic surgeon??? This is a multi million dollar asset to a multi million dollar franchise!!!)

Oh details, right? What’s the point of details. This book isn’t about details, it’s about the love relationship between Grace and Zack. If it is not about the details, then why include them? Why make Zack a professional hockey player when none of his story revolves around actually being a hockey player. Why make Grace a daytime talk show host when none of her talk show hosting abilities are shown or discussed or part of the plot? They could be Zack, the plumber, and Grace, the rehab specialist. Frankly, they could be tchotchke one and tchotchke two for all the interest that they hold.

Half the time I wondered where the copyeditor was. Like the above reference to the tv size but also in lines like this that occur in a conversation about Grace liking soaps and maybe scoring a guest role on one of them:

“You angling for a daytime TV career now?” he asked.

She is a daytime TV talk show host. That is a daytime TV career. It’s not a primetime TV career. It’s not a radio career. It’s—I would :facepalm: here but my hand is sore from slapping my forehead so many times.   And Grace went all Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats on Zack, destroying his Hummer, throwing his clothes out of his apartment window, etc. etc.   Wouldn’t that have affected her talk show host status?   It was never addressed because I guess that isn’t important to the romance, right?

The book wasn’t even about knitting. Sure ol’ Zack secretly knitted and so did his two BFFs, conveniently heroes of the two previous books in this trilogy but the knitting could have been totally removed and this would have been the same book about the plumber and underwear fetishist.

I managed to read to the end. I don’t know how. But then it had this:

“The noise in the Quicken Loans Arena was deafening. The Rockets were ahead by six points, and fans were going crazy with every new shot of the puck.”

The average goals scored in a game is usually less than 6 but you have them ahead by six points and scoring more?   Maybe the yarn helped all of Zack’s teammates to have magical abilities?  I don’t know much about hockey, I’ll admit, but nothing in this story rang true about professional sports or professional athletes.   How was the romance? Who cares? I didn’t. I could not bring myself to care about underwear loving Grace and knitter Zack because it seemed like so little care was given to making the details of the story authentic.   D

Best regards,

Jane

| Book excerpt | no Kindle | Amazon | Nook | BN | Borders |

no Fictionwise | no Books on Board

*Zack expresses extreme embarrassment over watching soaps, but why? Common knowledge that athletes watch soaps. Several have been guest actors. Famously Mark Schlereth, a football player, had a recurring role that he lobbied hard for. ESPN wrote an article about athletes love for the soaps.

**I am not linking to the author’s website because I want her to come read but as a service for the readers in case they want to check out her books.

***This is a Macmillan book and thus the ebook list price is $14.00.

REVIEW:  Fortune’s Forbidden Woman by Heidi Betts

REVIEW: Fortune’s Forbidden Woman by Heidi Betts

Dear Ms. Betts:

Fortune\'s Forbidden Woman (Silhouette Desire)I have been gaining newfound respect for category authors of late and when I saw that your book, Fortune’s Forbidden Woman, was selling like hotcakes I thought I better see what the fuss was about. After all, Keishon had very good luck with buying one of the e-Harlequin bestselling titles’ Billionaire’s Bidding by Barbara Dunlop. I had determined, prior to reading this book, that perhaps the cringe-worthy titles of the Harlequin/Silhouette Categories were the only thing that were bad about these books. Alas, Fortune’s Forbidden Women is one of those stereotypical romances that give fodder to its critics and provide no footing for its supporters. In fact, my head hurts from all the desk banging that went on during the reading of this book. (I had to give up throwing my e-reader around whenever I was unhappy with a book).

Maya Blackstone is a 25 year old virgin who has been dating a very nice young man for over a year. While she sometimes has some physical feelings toward Brad and actually leads him to believe that he is going to get lucky, she finds that she cannot bring herself to actually consummate their relationship. In fact, she becomes quite fearful and panicky when the two of them become close hinting at some type of terrible sexual experience in her early years.

Her stomach clenched, but not with desire. Nerves flared to life in her bloodstream, her muscles growing tense, her breathing growing labored as panic set in.

Since the origin of her sexual dysfunction is revealed in the first chapter, I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to talk about it here. After your lead up, what do I find to be the cause of her intimacy problems? Her fear? Her panic? Well, apparently, her stepbrother caught her in the arms of some teen punk and lashed out at her, calling her a slut. And this is the reason that she cannot be intimate with her boyfriend of over 1 year and why, at the age of 25, she is still a virgin.

"This is all your fault. You've ruined my chances of ever having a normal relationship with a man, ever sleeping with a man. You blamed a seventeen-year-old girl for being attacked by her boyfriend and called me a slut. You're the reason I can't have a normal relationship, and I hate you for that!–?

Seriously. The heroine sounds like she is still 17. Melodramatic and immature. Creed isn’t much better.

Creed Fortune has had the hots for his stepsister since before it was really age appropriate and he doesn’t believe it is appropriate now. So of course, he treats her like crap because he cannot give in to his FORBIDDEN feelings. You really made sure that I understood that he believed it was forbidden and because it was forbidden, he immediately goes over to Maya’s house and impales her with his FORBIDDEN stick which she completely welcomes despite her previous panic attacks at being intimate. And then he leaves her with this classic line:

"Why would I stay? Now that I've gotten you out of my system, I can leave you alone. Get on with my life.”

While ostensibly Maya is all hurt by Creed’s callous attitude, it doesn’t stop her from dropping her drawers whenever he snaps his fingers. Further, Maya doesn’t have decency to let Brad know that she is playing the bonefish grill with Creed, several times. In fact, Brad conveniently disappears for the remainder of the book until Maya, at the end, gives him his walking papers without telling him that she had been cheating on him non stop since the aborted attempt to make love.

She'd been dating Brad for nearly a year, growing closer by the week. She even thought they might have eventually ended up walking down the aisle. Even so, when it came to moving past first or second base, she'd kept him at arm's length.

But the minute Creed looked at her with so much as a hint of passion in his shadowy blue eyes, she'd fallen into bed with him faster than he could say "pretty please.–?

There is some character arc for Maya that doesn’t include being a sneak and a cheater and that is that she never felt comfortable being part of the Fortune family even though her mother was the love of papa Fortune’s life. The external plot force was that Maya’s mother disappeared 3 weeks before and hasn’t been seen since. I found this to be lacking in authenticity since Maya seemed fairly unconcerned about it.

Creed is given the main characteristics of the romance alpha male. He’s rich and full of angst over his FORBIDDEN love. And that was about it. His big character arc was getting over the idea that this love was FORBIDDEN because after all, as many characters tell him, the two have no BLOOD connection despite being raised as brother and sister and so this is no FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.

All the previous couples in the series make an appearance in different stages of pregnancy because love is fertility, baby. I am sure that you are a better writer than what is in this book, but I could not find one positive to thing to say about it. D.

Best regards

Jane