Dear Ms. Beck:
Like many books these days, the love relationship between the couple happens nearly instantly and the conflict comes after. In order to enjoy this book, you have to overlook that. Chloe Kincaid is a massage therapist who works for a temporary agency that places her all over the US. Her latest gig is in San Clemente with the Camp Pendleton Massage Therapy Clinic.
Chloe’s got restless feet. She doesn’t like permanent relationships and the itinerant nature of her current position suits her perfectly. In a series of incredulous but somewhat plausible events, Chloe ends up getting kicked out of her temporary housing and ends up staying with her neighbor, Major Michael McCade. Michael is a Marine helicopter pilot grounded due to a sciatic back condition. He’s ordered to get massage therapy which he doesn’t want to do. (He’s so uncomfortable he leaves his socks on – a visual I found hilarious).
Chloe’s massage is so fabulous that she and Michael start fulfilling the age old assumption about what really goes on in those massage rooms. While Chloe acknowledges their cliched encounter with the phrase “Happy Endings” I’m still left wondering why Chloe, a professional, would let things get so far out of hand. I guess they are just so swept away by their passion for each other?
Chloe and Michael are put in the position of needing something from each other. Chloe needs a place to stay and Michael needs for her to pose as his fake fiancé. What follows is predictable and the two suffer what most do in a fake engagement. There isn’t anything surprising in this book but the narrative is swift and the banter is quite good. Not just the bedroom banter but the banter between Michael and his doctor friend as well as the interaction between Michael and his CO. In fact, their exchange at the very end of the book was one of my favorites – a perfect injection of humor at a black moment.
This is a category book and there isn’t any deep exploration of feeling and because the narrative moves by so swiftly, there isn’t any lingering over a particular feeling, not a high or a low. I found Chloe irritating at times (rearranging someone’s furniture when you’re a guest seems like the height of rudeness to me). I understood I was supposed to find her flighty but I didn’t think she needed that characterization. Her inability to settle down was due to past failed relationships and the trauma of her parents’ ugly divorce. That she was trying to find her chi in some rude and silly way detracted from her rather than made her character charming.
I didn’t love the first McCade book because of what I felt was unnecessary slut shaming and the good thing is I didn’t see that in this book anywhere. The sex is just as hot. Michael is a dirty talker (my fave) and even though I didn’t like Chloe moving the furniture or acting like a dumb ass at her place of business, I still found her character appealing. It’s low priced and I think a reader gets the value of the $2.99 so long as she goes in with the expectation that its a fun, sexy contemporary that will occupy a couple hours of her time. C+
Dear Ms. Beck:
Part of this book was great. The other parts made me cringe and I used SHOUTY notes at points on the PDF review copy I received. BUT, I was engaged for most of the book which is more than I can say about some of the stories I’ve been reading.
When her stripper sister gets injured, Kylie Roberts is forced to go on stage to save Stacy’s place at the Deuces. Kylie is kind of a judgmental sister. She doesn’t approve of her sister’s stripping even though it is what pays for the high rent apartment they rent (“even though her income as a yoga instructor barely covered a third of the rent.”). To be fair to Kylie, no one approves of the stripping including both Kylie and Stacy’s love interest. What frustrated me about this was that Kylie and Stacy came from the same oppressed small town, one that was super judgmental about both of them and their family.
And on that particular point, Kylie and Stacy agreed one hundred percent. The only thing more unacceptable than being homeless in LA? Returning to their tiny, backward hometown of Two Trout,
Tennessee, as the penniless failures all the naysayers predicted they’d be.
So Kylie is not only disapproving of Stacy’s profession, but Kylie benefits from this by living in a nicer apartment and from not being forced to return as a penniless failure. Further, her sister’s stripping is basically subsidizing Kylie’s pursuit as a yoga instructor. We get further judgment down the road when Stacy is the slut sister and Kylie is a virgin.
And yes, I plan to use this image every time I encounter a virgin in a contemporary. Worse, Stacy is not only a stripper and a slut, be she also is mean to her co workers where as Kylie is nice. I get it. Strippers are the devil’s spawn.
Trevor McCade is a detective working undercover at Deuces to try to ferret out the murderer of two patrons who have been beaten to death. Trevor has to manfully endure strip shows and lap dances in the course of his undercover investigation, all on the LAPD dime. He knows he is not supposed to be attracted to any of the strippers but he can’t help it. The scenes wherein Kylie dances for Trevor are very hot and the best part of the book. In those scenes we are treated to Kylie and Trevor feeling a multitude of emotions from power on Kylie’s part to frustration and guilt on Trevor’s part. They are also funny and hot at the same time:
“Glad you’re enjoying the show, Trevor.”
“Absolutely. In fact, you need to lift up a little or… ah…”
Too late. She felt some of the “incidental contact” Stacy had warned of, and jerked away, almost losing
her balance in the process.
Unfortunately we can’t have an entire book of private lap dances. (I say that totally unironically) The investigation intrudes and we have Kylie pretending to be Stacy and answering questions of the LAPD. We have Kylie and Trevor making out in the LAPD witness interview room. We have Kylie acting so stupidly toward the end which results in bad results all around.
There is a secondary romance between Stacy and Ian, Trevor’s partner. The story is told only from Kylie and Trevor’s point of view so we are treated to Kylie listening to the two have sex or Stacy recounting events. The secondary romance didn’t seem to smoothly fit into the narrative nor did Stacy and Kylie’s abrupt reconciliation toward the end where they acknowledged their envy of the other.
Finally, I think you need to review the diagram explaining where the hymen is.
So what to grade this book? I gave it a C. There were some really good parts and some really bad parts.