Dear Ms. Quint:
Thank you for sending me your book for review. The blurb and excerpt you sent signaled a cute contemporary romance with a storyline that I had not read recently. Mac is recently divorced and trying to enter the dating scene but he is inept. Inept is actually a kind word for Mac’s skills with the ladies. Mac uses more dated lines than are tossed around at a Tucker Max convention ( “Hey, Sexy! Wanna get naked with me?” ). Rachel agrees to tutor him in handling the current social scene if he agrees to accompany her to her brother’s upcoming wedding.
Mac’s confident in some areas like poker playing and hanging out with the guys, but put him next to a pretty woman and his tongue is tied in knots and his confidence plummets.
Mac envied how comfortable they looked. He casually slung his arm across the back of the couch the way Jake had told him to. They talked poker for a while, but when the conversation shifted to other things, Mac fell silent, afraid to risk opening his mouth and have something stupid fall out.
Everything about this book screams cute and in the first half it is. There’s limited sexual tension between the characters as Mac goes out on dates with other women, but it gives the relationship between Mac and Rachel time to develop slowly. The second half of the book, however, is weighed down by the treatment of the character’s issues. Rachel, in particular, has a steamerful as her best friend, Claudia says in the book when warning her brother Mac to not fall for Rachel. Rachel’s problem is that she was raped as a teenager and has never been able to have successful intercourse since then. Of course despite her desire to be in an intimate relationship, get married, and have babies; she refuses to do anything that might move her forward like, oh, talk to a counselor. She is so innocent that she doesn’t know the difference between a circumcised and uncircumcised penis.
I was always bothered by the timeline in this book. Mac is only eight months out of his divorce and already he is looking to get hitched up again. I’ve read somewhere that 80% of men are remarried within 2 years of death or divorce and so this might be true to life, but I wondered whether he was really ready for another long term commitment. In making sure the reader was convinced that Mac was hero material, he was the victim of his marriage’s dissolution. He was faithful, loved his wife, treated her family well. She was the heartbreaker because she did not want to have kids.
“Neither of us was ready when we got married.” His voice was emotionless, as though he was looking back at people he barely knew. “It took a while to realize that when Gloria said she didn’t want kids, she meant ever. I don’t know. Maybe I thought she’d change her mind. Most likely, it just didn’t seem that important to me then.”
“Maybe she knew she couldn’t have children,” Rachel offered tentatively. “I worry about that sometimes.”
“Gloria could conceive.”
And then it spirals downhill from there. Gloria is the terrible evil bitch who aborts children.
How could Gloria have thrown away what Rachel would give anything to have? Sleep was a million miles away now. “Why didn’t you stop her, Mac? How could you let her do that?”
Rachel’s innocence, her sexual healing at the hands of Mac, and their ultimate HEA never worked for me. The emotional tension was created through the unwillingness of each character to talk about their feelings. Mac continued to pursue other women while still sleeping with Rachel. All the cute and fun in the beginning of the book was eroded after Rachel’s reveal.
Complicating this was the sequel baiting. I believe there are 13 siblings and every one of them has to have a scene in the book. The book felt overlong to me due to what seemed like a number of superfluous scenes, as if there was a checklist of events that needed to be included in order for all the future books to be set up appropriately and to reassure any readers of past books that the happy ever afters were continuing. The tender and intimate moment between Rachel and her sister in law to be before the wedding despite the two having not been good friends before the wedding. I.e., where was the bride’s close friends or family at this moment? The catching of the groom surreptitiously fingering his bride in front of the entire wedding party so that we could be assured that the newly married couple was truly happy. The cornering of the Mac in the men’s room by Rachel’s brothers where they tell him that no means no. I didn’t understand what that was about at all.
What this book did well was sell me on the socially awkward male being made over by a more confident female. That’s a romance trope twist. What didn’t work so well is that the heroine was portrayed as emotionally inaccessible and sexually damaged and she’s healed, of course, through the mighty wang of the hero. That trope is as tired and old as Mac’s come ons. Further, the way it played out with Mac dating other women but also trying to heal the heroine of her sexual fears, only heightened my nervousness about Mac’s readiness for a long term commitment. C-