REVIEW: Dinner First, Me Later? by Candy Halliday
Dear Ms. Halliday:
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