REVIEW: Dating Mr. December (aka Decent Exposure) by Phillipa Ashley
“When a nice girl asks twelve men to get naked, it's sure to cause a scandal-
Emma Tremayne leaves her high-powered PR job and moves to the Lake District looking for peace, quiet-and celibacy. So perhaps it's not the best idea when, in the spirit of "community-mindedness," she agrees to help the local mountain rescue team fund raise by putting together a "tasteful" nude calendar. Especially since quite a lot of the community seems to mind what she's up to-including the tall, dark and handsome Mr. December, Will Tennant, who appears to have gotten the wrong impression about Emma's intentions. So how does she convince him that he's more than just the flavor of the month?”
Dear Ms. Ashley,
Your publicist had already contacted us about potentially reviewing your book, “Dating Mr. December” when we featured you in our First Sale series. That, plus the interesting information that there was a movie made from the book which would be airing soon in the US and also out on DVD got me moving on reading it. Even though it’s not truly a Christmas themed book, I still think readers will enjoy it for the holidays.
The workplace issues/snake boyfriend/skank boss are a reasonable set up for Emma to leave her high paying job. It was more of a stretch to think she’d end up in Cumbria, which I gather is not far from the ‘back of beyond,’ but that’s required for the plot. Once there, I liked the local color though I’d love to know what a real Cumbrian accent sounds like.
I enjoyed the rescue team scenes with lots of male camaraderie and teasing about the idea of the calendar and then about the actual photos. But isn’t a nudie calendar as a fund raiser wearing thin by now? Do these things still sell or is the public surfeited with them?
Will’s reluctance about the calendar makes sense from his POV – he thinks it will make them look silly and a laughing stock and less professional – all guy concerns. At least he acknowledges that Emma has done a good job presenting the idea.
Will’s response of pushing Emma into absieling – indeed his response of pushing her, period – also seems so guy. A little boy response of teasing someone he’s actually interested in. But then he also does the guy thing of pushing her away when he’s startled by his attraction to her. I like that when he does realize what he’s doing – acting like a horny schoolboy – he decides he wants better in their relationship – he wants to earn her respect.
But I am appalled with Will that he initiates then continues with the foreplay while in Emma’s workplace. She maintains some degree of professionalism and given his status and experience as a businessman he should also. He only just redeems himself by being appalled too. His caveman actions are balanced a bit by the times when he feels clumsy and gauche in her presence. Brava that Emma decides that she wants – and deserves – more than she knows (at the time) Will is willing or able to give. She does keep her eyes open until she falls in love. And even then, she thinks her feelings are returned before giving in.
Will moves himself back into my good graces as once he hears the story of why Emma arrived in the area, he’s all man, wanting to defend and protect her. And also beat up the idjut who’d hurt her. For me it showed a growth of real feelings for her beyond simple attraction. He starts to understand her better and feels protective, showing her affection and respect – not just lust or manners.
I like that Emma believes in Will before she hears the truth about his broken engagement. She doesn’t automatically project his past onto their potential future and she’s willing to take the chance. The reason she’s so hurt is not what she’s been told he did to Kate – though she feels for Kate – but that he doesn’t ask her to stay. He doesn’t or can’t take the leap of faith in them to commit. That’s what hurts her the most and makes her leave.
But oh the lovely groveling scene when Will Reveals All (well, all except for his middle name) and finally gets out what he really feels for Emma. That plus the fact that his reasoning for not having told people what truly happened with his first engagement makes sense, again in a guy way, and that he’d be willing to move to London for Emma’s job leaves me satisfied. Since this was your first book, I’m hoping that I will enjoy the others you’ve written just as well if not more. B