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REVIEW: Dinner First, Me Later? by Candy Halliday

Dear Ms. Halliday:

Dinner First, Me Later?When I saw the blurb for your book, I had to have it. Jake Sims was a retired baseball star who was trying to make a new life for himself and his thirteen year old daughter in the suburbs of Chicago. Alicia Greene was a woman who had suffered a bad divorce, took the husband to the cleaners, and lived her happy life child and animal free. The start of the book made me think that this would be a different, fresh take on a straight contemporary romance.

While there were moments of likeability with the atypical heroine, the romance felt contrived and the characters lacked depth.

Alicia Greene grew up in Chicago and formed an unhealthy attachment to a baseball star by the name of Jake “The Rake” Sims. Early on in his career, he had an interview with Barbara Walters wherein he dashed Alicia’s crush to shreds by coming off as a macho jerk. Fast forward several years and Alicia finds herself living across the street from her former dream man. Determined not to be a number on his bedpost, Alicia immediately declares her disinterest. However, when Jake acts disinterested in return, Alicia is spurred to lure him in.

Jake believes that he cannot have any woman right now. He is fighting his mother in law for custody of his thirteen year old daughter. His daughter, Danielle, believes that because Jake left her with her coke addicted and absent mother, that his desire to now renew a relationship is suspect. Yet, Jake has had a turn of heart and desires to start anew. His need to repair his relationship with his daughter is in conflict with his attraction to his gorgeous neighbor, Alicia.

The topics that were brought up for the basis of the conflict were meaningful but the treatment of them was anything but. Danielle overcomes a lifetime of hurts with one tearful session. Jake barely acknowledges that his previous abandonment of his daughter was something with long lasting consequences. Alicia and Jake barely know one another yet seemingly fall in love after a couple furtive makeout sessions.

I wanted to like the book more, particularly because Alicia was portrayed as a career women disinterested in procreation which is quite outside the norm in romance heroine archetypes. She recognized that she had power in her femininity to attract men and she wasn’t afraid to use it. Jake was less interesting. He often talked like a woman. In fact, the whole gaggle of male characters shared their feelings to such an extent that it seemed that the men were the desperate housewives. The larger problem, though, is that while not every book needs to have meaning or substance, the fact that darker subjects were brought into the story and treated with such blitheness led to a greater sense of disappointment. It’s a frothy read with superficial characters. C

Best regards,


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Jennie
    Jun 16, 2007 @ 08:27:07

    The title actually turned me off this one. Is it about asking for oral sex on a first date, or is my mind just in the gutter?

    Okay, mostly I wanted to comment to see if my avatar shows up. :)

    It didn’t. :( I thought I’d done it right.

  2. Jane
    Jun 16, 2007 @ 14:33:33

    Sometimes it takes some time to show up – like a few hours. I don’t know if the invitation was for oral sex, but it was for sex.

  3. Kathy
    Jun 20, 2007 @ 10:25:19

    We obviously didn’t read the same book. I LOVED this book and I thought Jake’s handling of the past with his daughter was honorable. He didn’t try to make excuses for being a lousy dad but he promised not to fail her as a father again.
    And as for Alicia & Jake falling in love too quickly I thought this is true of all romance books.

  4. dottie
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 08:07:43

    This is the first book I have read of yours, the Title of the book is what caught my eye. I read alot of romance books and most of them of course do not have near enough “romance”. Sometimes I like “hot, steamy, sexy ” books and yours fit the bill. Fantasy’s are great, I am sure we have all had sometype of dreamy fantasy at one time or another. Phone sex, well don’t knock it til you try it.

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