Dear Ms. Tenorio:
Thank you for sending your book for review. I liked the premise and the story had a lot of promise. My struggle with understanding the hero’s motivations, however, diminished my overall appreciation for the story and the strongest character on the page wasn’t the hero, but the heroine’s older brother.
Amanda Jackman has six overbearing brothers and she has felt like the direction of her life has been dictated by them. No man or boy in her hometown of Rancho Del Cielo has been brave enough to ask her out for fear of her brothers’ retribution. In a bid for independence, Amanda moves out of the family home and buys her own tiny house. This movement signals to Locke, her eldest brother, that Amanda must be ready to have her own family and he tells a family friend, Cole Engstrand that he has the green light to pursue and win Amanda.
Unfortunately, Amanda overhears this and her fragile self esteem is crushed. She’s always had a thing for Cole yet he’s never returned her interest. Hearing him and her brother Locke engage in a some kind of medieval transaction that would see her married off is hurtful and frustrating. Amanda decides that part of her emancipation will include the seduction of Cole.
Cole Engstrom was taken up by the Jackman brothers in high school. He had a terrible home life and his parents’ unhappy marriage sours him on the happy ever after thing. He’s always been attracted to Amanda but he values her friendship and the friendship he has with her brothers. When Amanda starts her seduction attempts, he’s aroused and interested but afraid of going too far. Further, he is a little perturbed that Amanda is going to seduce and abandon him – something he learns through eavesdropping.
What I struggled with was Cole’s resistance to Amanda’s seduction which seemed an attempt to simply draw out the sexual tension. Cole wasn’t going to sleep with her, but he’d help her feel sexy and attractive by fooling around or keeping her an everything but virgin. Amanda was going to seduce the pants off Cole, but never gives one thought to how to deal with the fallout of a failed sexual relationship.
The push/pull of their relationship often seemed disjointed. One scene would begin with Cole dreading being seen in the same restaurant as Amanda and the next scene would be Cole dragging Amanda in for a deep open mouthed tongue kiss in the middle of the restaurant. Cole’s purported friendship with the brothers seemed non existent during the book. His closest friend appeared to be Amanda.
The characters are cute and likeable but I didn’t understand them or the arc of the story. I loved the idea of Amanda bartering with people to learn tasks that would increase her independence from getting basic car maintenance lessons to learning how to fix a sink. But because the motivations, particularly of Cole never made any sense to me, the story dragged. While there was humor and sweetness and sexiness, it just didn’t come together for me. C