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REVIEW: Because of Jane by Lenora Worth

Dear Ms. Worth:

I picked this book to read because it featured a football hero. I loved football! I love romances! I’m always drawn to sports romances.   Unfortunately, other than the hero’s past occupation as an NFL quarterback, there was nothing sporty about this book.   This book is all about one really unlikeable woman falling in love with the aforementioned former quarterback and he returning her love, somehow.

Because of Jane by Lenora WorthI disliked Jane Harper from virtually the first moment she opened her mouth and it was downhill from there. If there was ever a book that was going to strain my New Year’s resolution of finishing books I started, it was this one. As I read further into the book, I kept asking myself why I was spending time within someone (the heroine) who I so despised and who I thought deserved every humiliating, embarrassing thing that happened to her.

So what got my back up? Let me just quote from fourth paragraph of the first chapter when we are first introduced to Jane:

And if anyone could bring former NFL quarterback Lenny Paxton out of his self-imposed isolation after losing the Super Bowl, losing his beloved grandmother and then losing his cool in front of the world, Jane could. She also planned to get the scoop on the story everyone wanted-’what in the world was wrong with Lenny Paxton?

Jane Harper has a Ph.D. in psychology. Her current job is as a life coach, probably because her ethics would get her barred from practicing as a psychologist in most states in the Union.

This assignment just might beat the band since she'd received a phone call from the notorious Sidelined sports magazine that prided itself on getting the scoop on the most interesting and infamous sport figures in the world.

They wanted her to write an in-depth exposé on Lenny Paxton. Jane had agreed, but only after she'd told the magazine's gleeful editor that she couldn't reveal any client/therapist secrets without the client's permission. While the editor wasn't too happy about that, the man had reluctantly agreed to her doing the article on spec. Now, Jane's main goal was to win over Lenny enough to get him to open up so his inspiring story could help other people.

Then Lenny’s agent contacts her to fix Lenny so that Lenny will follow through on his multimillion dollar endorsement deal. Jane sees this as the perfect opportunity to a) gain prestige and b) show her parents what a great success she is and c) make a ton of money.

Jane Harper, psychologist and relationship therapist, nonfiction author, authority on the human psyche and all-around consummate life coach and perfectionist might have just taken on the most challenging assignment of her career. She'd probably get network interviews and her name in People magazine.

Jane doesn’t admit that she’s on assignment with Sidelined magazine but she does tell him that she is there to clear out the “clutter” in his mind.   Jane is there to mess with Lenny’s head, fix him up so he will fulfill his endorsement deal, and gain his trust so she can exploit his story in a tabloid. Oh and Jane hates jocks. Because she was a mousey girl and never enjoyed sports and felt slighted by them all her life. Oh and despite the fact that she knows that he values his privacy more than his public image, she still plans to get the goods on him. Geezus. Is this the villain? Seriously, usually when we meet characters like these it’s a prelude to them getting their heads whacked off by the serial killer who is threatening the heroine’s life.   At some point in the book, Jane gives up on her scurrilous plans but she never really acknowledges how bad or wrong her objective is. She never comes to any conclusion that her goals as a life coach when it came to Lenny had almost nothing to do with saving Lenny and everything to do with propping herself up.   There was no big reveal moment for her.

I don’t understand why Lenny didn’t just kick her out and send her on her way. No, instead, he invites her into his home, lets her stay there and then takes her to various activities in his life like watching him coach his youth football team. He makes a deal with her: he’ll let her unclutter his life, if he can teach her how to let go.

I really don’t know how many violations of the pscyhologist’s code she has broken at this point, but lying and deceiving her victim, err patient, err client, isn’t where it stops. No! This is a romance and what is a romance without kissing and inappropriate touching between the psychologist and patient.

(Note, Tin Cup is not a good model for sports psychology if that is what the research source was).

I agreed that Lenny was hurting but being forced to recovery when his greatest crime was living by himself and not selling his wares to the general public didn’t sound convincing to me. He wasn’t alone. He had three ex wives, but good relationships with all of them. He was well liked in his community. His house is full of clutter and Jane comes the instant conclusion that maybe he is a hoarder and doesn’t guess the concept that Lenny explains himself:

He sat up, all his kind thoughts going out the screen door. "This isn't some weird freak show, doc. And my problem is fairly simple. Most of this stuff belonged to the woman who raised me, so I'm having a hard time getting rid of it."

Lenny seemed generally pretty easy going and cheerful. Yes, he was lonely. Yes, he was raised by his grandmother but it wasn’t like he was on a suicide watch and he had to have intervention or would die.   Jane pushes and picks at Lenny’s secrets, at his deepest hurts but with no discernable purpose other than to make him this ephemeral “better” person.   Maybe it was the timeline between how recently his grandmother had died and when Jane came to “fix” him. I don’t think even a year had passed.   Maybe if he had been shown to be more depressed, more of a danger to himself, I would have thought Jane’s interference was warranted but I was never convinced that Jane loved anyone but herself.   And frankly all the talk of clutter and unclutter and organization and making Lenny’s house “shine” after a thorough cleaning made Jane sound more like a manager at The Container Store than a psychologist.

Even beyond the hated Jane is the writing which contained a whole lot of info dumping and telling and weird analogies like

Jane was already prancing with psychologist precision toward Candy.

I didn’t realize precision was a trait of psychologists.   The whole first chapter seemed like a wall of text as we were treated to the internal machinations of Jane’s desire to bag Lenny’s life story.   Later, we had scenes that contained Jane’s notes to herself which read more like diary entries than those of an actual psychologist.   I’ve read a number of psychology records and those people write notes like, well, doctors.

We had a breakthrough this week. I fell in the pond, but that won me some sympathy. That and getting a makeover from Wanda Lawhorn. Memo to self-’Don't do that again, ever.

….

Mr. Paxton seems more willing to cooperate now. Our fitness routine and new diet have brought a healthy shine to his face, and we've managed to pick through some of the clutter. Note to self-’no more sweet potato pie. Too many calories, even if it does have fiber.

I wasn’t even convinced that Lenny was an actual football player after reading this entry:

Then, just before the hit, he'd send the ball spiraling through space, watching, waiting, praying.

And then he'd go down.

Sometimes, he managed to score points. Other times, he missed the running back's outstretched hands.

I mean, I know that the running back can catch balls during screens and short passes, but generally a quarterback in the NFL is throwing to a wide receiver or, perhaps, a tight end.

In sum, I felt this book was unconvincing on all levels. I never believed in Jane, the psychologist; Lenny, the football player; or the romance between the two.     D

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

22 Comments

  1. Kirsten
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 12:31:39

    “but lying and deceiving her victim, err patient, err client, isn't where it stops. No!”

    Thanks for this, Jane. Your review was a nice respite from the news this morning.

    ReplyReply

  2. Maddie
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 13:17:30

    Let’s see a H, who has been married three freaking times, and a h who is using the H to make money get her fame on and get her name in people, whats not to like.

    ReplyReply

  3. Jayne
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 14:31:03

    Jane you did better finishing this book than I did. I got to the pig slopping chapter and had to stop. Her ethics, or lack of them, had been bothering me the whole time and I finally thought, “why am I plowing through any more of this? I’m not enjoying it.” So I stopped.

    ReplyReply

  4. Heather Massey
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 15:18:48

    Oh. My. God.

    I know this is fiction, but having worked in the mental health field as a therapist, I’m shocked to learn about a psychologist being portrayed this way. I just don’t see how manipulative and exploitative behavior is funny or entertaining, especially from someone in the mental health field.

    Guess I’m definitely not the target reader for this book.

    ReplyReply

  5. SonomaLass
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 16:44:59

    I read two books last year in which therapists got sexually involved with their clients. I don’t get it. It’s like teachers and students, doctors and patients — there’s an ethical line being crossed there that needs to be addressed. I’m not saying such a romance could never work for me, but as I’m not big on abuses of power or manipulation in romance, it would be a hard sell.

    Guess I’m not the target either,, Heather!

    ReplyReply

  6. SonomaLass
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 16:51:49

    Also, I have to add that I’m glad no one is trying to “fix” my life this way. The way Lenny is dealing with his grief sounds a lot like mine in the year since my father passed away; having someone working against that to get me back to “normal” again would be awful.

    ReplyReply

  7. Michelle
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 18:56:11

    Yup, nice way to lose your license-having sex with a patient. Especialy one that you want to defraud, exploit, and perform malpractice upon.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jane
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 19:03:34

    @SonomaLass I think this was my biggest problem with the book. Lenny’s emotional trauma wasn’t great enough to justify Jane’s actions and when she did come to conclusion she wouldn’t exploit his story, it wasn’t because she recognized that this was something morally wrong; rather that it really just put her relationship with Lenny in jeopardy. As if somehow, her motives and actions would have been okay with someone else.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 19:06:00

    @Heather Massey Right because what if Lenny were really mentally ill? Wouldn’t discovery of Jane’s intentions send him spiraling?

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 19:06:24

    @Jayne I wasn’t happy after the first chapter.

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 19:07:04

    @Kirsten I was eating lunch at a restaurant today wondering what my life would be if I lived in the Middle East right now.

    ReplyReply

  12. Char
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 21:37:28

    This sort of book bothers me. How many people are reading these types of books, seeing that movie Prince of Tides and thinking that you’re supposed to have sex with your therapist?

    I’ve met one man who kept switching therapists because he couldn’t find one who ‘cared’ about him, which he defined as being willing to have sex with him. I blame his view on the above noted movie, I’m surehe doesn’t read romance.

    But this is just wrong on so many levels. Not going any where near this book.

    ReplyReply

  13. Author On Vacation
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 00:26:20

    [blockquote](Note, Tin Cup is not a good model for sports psychology if that is what the research source was).[/quote]

    I admit, “Tin Cup” came to mind when I read the review.

    It’s very disheartening to me when I’m left with the feeling an author didn’t invest time into researching people/places/things relevant to their storyline.

    I know most readers aren’t interested in many details of a character’s profession, but the author should at least sound like s/he knows what s/he’s talking about.

    ReplyReply

  14. Heather Massey
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 09:08:18

    I know most readers aren't interested in many details of a character's profession, but the author should at least sound like s/he knows what s/he's talking about.

    Seems like the author was playing a lot of things for laughs (and I sure hope so because I’m horrified to think anyone believes that is how a real psychologist might act), but isn’t there a way to do it without portraying the psychologist heroine in such a monstrous light?

    The film WHAT ABOUT BOB is one example that comes to mind of a film dealing humorously with a psychiatrist-patient relationship. But at least Dreyfuss’ character attempts to maintain boundaries even though Bob is heck bent on trying to insert himself into the doctor’s life. One of my professors even showed it to our class and we used the film as a jumping point for discussions.

    Hm, methinks I’d like to revisit the film again.

    ReplyReply

  15. Sunita
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 09:45:27

    Jane and Jayne, you both made it farther than I did. I bailed after two chapters. I don’t mind if all the details aren’t correct, but violating the most basic rules of a profession before we’ve gotten to know the character? Also, two of the heroine’s three major motivations for taking on this client (“life coaches” have clients not patients)? Prestige and money. Yes, that spells heroine in a romance novel.

    Plus, the writing style and word usage grated on me.

    ReplyReply

  16. Ann G
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 12:08:40

    Tell us how you really feel…LOL. While I’m not generally drawn to sports themed books, I have read some by Carly Phillips & others, and they did a better job of it than this author seems to do. Also, getting involved with a patient…no way. I could imagine that if an HONEST relationship did develop between a doctor & patient, that the doctor would advise the patient to find ANOTHER doctor (if he still needed treatment). Thanks for the helpful review.

    ReplyReply

  17. jo
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 13:25:40

    I just don’t get the standard that’s applied to publishing a book where so many things are wrong. I get queries about historical things that I’ve referenced to death (mine, usually) just to make sure I kind of know what I’m writing about. Why would an editor give a pass to a psychologist heroine who is unprofessional, boundary-challenged, and in need of an ethics refresher? It’s really discouraging.

    ReplyReply

  18. Lori S.
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 16:44:48

    Out of curiosity, what kept this out of F territory?

    ReplyReply

  19. jody
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 00:48:49

    @Char: I have to defend Prince of Tides against being mentioned in the same breath as this awful thing. Nobody had sex with their therapist in P of T. Lowenstein was Tom Wingo’s sister Savannah’s therapist. And if you haven’t read the book, it’s wonderful.

    ReplyReply

  20. Lenora
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 13:04:25

    Hello. Wow, tough crowd. I just wanted to clarify that whether you liked this book or not, my hero and heroine never had sex in this story. Never. I don’t write graphic love scenes in my books.

    I appreciate the review, regardless.

    ReplyReply

  21. Jane
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 13:28:54

    @Lenora Yes that is true which is why I refer to it in the review as “kissing and inappropriate touching but, unfortunately, it’s not just coitus that counts as sexual misconduct.

    ReplyReply

  22. Jane
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 13:29:46

    @Lori S. I’ve read some really horrible books like The Gingerbread Tryst and the time traveling urinal book and I guess I felt this book was a level above those.

    ReplyReply

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