Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Natalie Anderson

REVIEW:  The End of Faking It by Natalie Anderson

REVIEW: The End of Faking It by Natalie Anderson

Dear Ms. Anderson:

I was reluctant to read this book for some reason and had saved it to the end of my monthly HP reading. I’ve read a couple of yours in the past (Caught on Camera being the one I remember). I mostly got caught up in the setups and the setup in this book was slightly problematic but the core of the story, the heroine afraid of intimacy and the hero that pursues her, is a trope that has always worked well for me. Because of that, I’m sure that I have overlooked obvious flaws in the storytelling.

The End of Faking It by Natalie AndersonThe book starts out with our standard HP hero, Carter Dodds, assuming that Penny of the short denim skirt and the red lips must be a siren luring men to their doom. Carter makes assumptions, bad ones, based on Penny’s attire and her fun and free attitude. Further, Carter basically douses Penny with water and then kisses her because that is what men do to random secretaries in the office. Carter is a presumptuous ass. He interferes with her life, thinks she is a bimbo, and then a man eater.

Penny won me over, though. She’s not interested in making commitments, not with people or a place. She temps because she won’t stay in one location for more than a year. She seeks out men who are as commitment phobic as she is. She goes out clubbing all night and takes men home with her. But there is an unhappy desperation to her lifestyle. Penny clearly loves people but she is afraid of intimacy on any level.

And fortunately, around chapter 3, Carter starts acting like a decent human being again once he acknowledges that he can barely think around Penny and he apologizes (although he could have groveled more). Later on in the story, Carter actually seems to become a different guy. One who is more understanding, more about Penny’s pleasure than his own. I don’t think his character arc was to change in this manner, but that the way in which he was written changed. As if the standard HP hero was trotted out in the beginning in order to hook the HP readers, but that the story and Penny needed a different kind of foil. I liked how Carter evolved although I don’t know if it was organic growth.

The reason for Penny’s neurosis is somehow related to a boyfriend she had with a teenager. I bought into the idea that this event that happened to her over seven years ago could still so strongly influence her life. Penny was trying to find enjoyment where she could with traveling and seeing new people and places. And she enjoyed sex and had enjoyed it in the past, although Penny always had to be in control and often, she never orgasmed so she faked it and she planned to fake it with Carter as well. (Thus the title)

My affection for this book rests a great deal on my appreciation for Penny as a character. Her yearning for deeper connections swam just under the surface and her presentation as the “in control but no intimacy girl” read like a gender switch in romance books. I think she could have been pushed harder (i.e. in her partying aspect, in her past relationships with men) but I can appreciate the parameters in which this was written. More

As an aside, I appreciated all the mentions of the modern ways of communicating. The characters text and email. Carter skypes with his father. Penny has an ereader. These things all give a nice contemporary feel to the story. Despite my initial reservations, I found that the Penny and Carter love story was sweet and, yes, very sexy. B

Best regards,

Jane

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo | Harlequin

Dear Author

REVIEW: Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire by Natalie Anderson

Dear Ms. Anderson:

book review Over time, the Australia/New Zealand Harlequin Presents (HPs) have become my favorites mostly because I feel that the women are slightly more emancipated in these stories (not always of course). Pleasured features the requisite millionaire but the heroine isn’t a virgin. Instead, she’s provocative and proactive.

Sienna, on vacation in Sydney, is drawn to a band practicing in a club. Inside she finds not only a band but “Mr. Utterly Attractive.”   She wants him and after seeing the mutual attraction in his eyes, she sets out to get him.   Sienna is determined to abide by her new motto of “living in the moment.”

The target is Rhys Maitland, millionaire in disguise.   He’s taking a much needed vacation from his medical career by hiding in this less ritzy, touristy part of Sidney.   Rhys is constantly pursued by women and  the tabloids as he is an heir to a large Sydney fortune.   His attraction to Sienna is surprising, a little unwanted but still invigorating.

Sienna and Rhys have  secrets that they keep from each other because neither of them want to divulge personal information but for differing motivations.   They both fear that the other will react differently if they knew the truth. Sienna fears pity from Rhys. Rhys  wants to get to know Sienna without the   interference of his money and  notoriety might cause.

The conflict rests some on their mutual secrets, some on a standard HP trope of mistrust and misunderstanding (Rhys accuses Sienna of selling their relationship out to the tabloids), but more interestingly on Sienna’s need to test herself and be autonomous and Rhys overbearing concern for her health.   Sienna’s trip to Sidney and parts far aflung was for the purpose of escaping the bonds of those who love her.   One of the things that I appreciate about this HP is that it took turns that I didn’t expect.   Sienna’s decisions regarding her relationship with  Rhys, in the end, were predicated less on the wrong assumptions that Rhys made about Sienna and more about her fear of ending up in the same type of relationship she had escaped.

Rhys was less interesting.   He plays the mistrusting, cynical alpha male role found in many of the HPs. Of course, the standard characterization is partly the reason that we read HPs but given that Sienna was a little unusual, I felt something more could have been done with Rhys.   He was quick to forgive and forget and there is a big dramatic ending which was enjoyable, but I felt there could have been even greater emotional connection had Rhys been a more vibrant character.

In the end, I found the reliance on the old HP tropes were unnecessary and leached away part of the uniqueness.   For all that Rhys’ standard alpha male shtick was mundane at times, Sienna’s vibrancy made up for it.   I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Natalie Anderson books. B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.