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Julie Cohen

Dear Author

REVIEW: Mistress in Private by Julie Cohen

Dear Ms. Cohen:

Mistress in PrivateI first discovered you when your book, His for the Taking, was nominated for an RNA award. I thought HFTheT was a wonderfully nuanced story but while Mistress in Private shares some similarities, it also requires a large suspension of disbelief and one that I could not get past.

Jane Miller works as an account manager for Pearce Grey Advertising. She’s been put in charge of a very important account for a difficult account — Giovanni Franco’s new cologne. Pearce Grey is the fourth in a line of ad agencies working with the difficult Franco. To make matters worse, her fiancee and co-worker has broke it off with her in a very public manner. To gain back a bit of her pride, she is determined to make the Franco account work.

Jonny Cole is a nerd turned hot model known as Jay Richard. Jonny and Jane have been great friends since they were kids but haven’t seen each other since they were 11 years old. Jonny comes to England to work on the ad campaign of Franco and sends an email divulging his duel identity only Jane doesn’t get it. Instead, she meets Jay and starts a hot and heavy affair with the model, not realizing that it is her great friend, Jonny.

For years these guys have been emailing four to five times a day for years and never once exchanged a photo? Jonny’s glasses were enough for him to go all Clark Kent / Superman on Jane? This was WTF moment number one. Plus, when Jonny/Jay’s identity is revealed, Jane accuses Jonny of being dishonest even though Jonny sent the email and it got lost. What further irked me is that Jonny accepts responsibility for being deceitful? This was the second WTF moment for me.

Jane can’t bear to be dumped again so Jonny suggests that they continue to pretend to have an affair. (WTF! Jane, get a backbone). Only Jonny really loves Jane and Jane really loves Jonny (or Jay) but they each believe the other is just pretending. (No WTF here because this confused unrequited love theme can actually be really moving).

But the worst WTF moment for me was the fact that Jane, whose self esteem was battered by being dumped by a guy, is built up by being romanced by a guy who just happens to be this hot model when he removes his glasses. (I actually think Clark looked hotter with his glasses, but whatever).

Anyway, four WTFs = C-.

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.

Dear Author

REVIEW: His for the Taking by Julie Cohen

Dear Ms. Cohen:

Book CoverYour book, Driving Him Wild, came to my attention when it was announced as one of the RNA nominees for best category romance of 2007. As Sarah from SBTB notes, the lovely Harlequin folks decided that they would change the title for us Americans to His For the Taking. Driving Him Wild was a much more apt title and I kept wondering throughout the story how the heroine in the book was EVER for the hero’s taking.

But aside from the title, this was a very surprising Harlequin Presents. First off, the heroine is the one with money. Zoe Drake finds Maine forest ranger Nick Giroux, sitting outside her great-aunt Zinia’s Park Avenue apartment. Nick believes that his father, who left his family 16 years ago, is hiding out inside the apartment and he is not leaving until he gets inside. Zoe is partially turned on by Nick’s aggressiveness and partly creeped out. After all, Nick is a gorgeous specimen of a man. On the other hand, it is New York.

Zoe explains that she is there to get the clothes that recently deceased Xinia wanted to be buried in. Zoe gives in to Nick’s pleas and lets him inside to look around. He finds nothing but Nick provides a good distraction for the pain of the loss of the one family member that seemed to accept Zoe for who she is. Zoe does not fit in with her immediate family. Her sisters are all successful, petite, and traditionally beautiful. Zoe is the ugly duckling – larger, a cab driver with no meaningful ambition. She dreads family get togethers because of her inability to measure up.

Nick’s family loss happened years ago. His father’s abandonment led Nick to become a caretaker. Ordinarily, his choice of women were much like the animals he was saving – small and helpless. Zoe is anything but he is attracted to her nonetheless. Nick is determined to find his father and sticking close to Zoe, his best clue, seems like the perfect way to muddle around the City.

While I appreciated the themes of the book that family is what you make it and you are not made by your family, I thought that some of the character drawings, particularly of Zoe’s family were heavy handed. The sisters, in particular, were unlikeable, full of pettiness and self absorption. Zoe was actually, for all her outward independence, seemed really in need of Nick’s care. Physically she wasn’t his normal “type” but emotionally she wasn’t much stronger than the wounded NYC pigeon that Nick decided to save.

Nick wasn’t much better. He had been living in the past, unable to make a committment because he was paralyzed emotionally by his father’s abandonment. His inability to deal with this made him project onto Zoe feelings and intentions that she didn’t actually have. One problem I found with this was the speed at which Nick fell for Zoe and then was perturbed by her lack of immediate capitulation which he then viewed as a rejection. Sometimes, I felt like the emotional arcs and revelations were dealt with a heavy hand and that took away from the meaningful character development.

Overall, though, this was an unusual Harlequin Presents because it did not deal with the billionaire businessman and an extravagant locale. Instead, the strength of the book was the extravagance of the emotional exploration. B.

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.