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Ellen Hartman

REVIEW: Wanted Man by Ellen Hartman

REVIEW: Wanted Man by Ellen Hartman

Rhian’s Rooftop Resolutions:
1. Write a children’s book
2. Learn to play basketball
3. Have a summer fling

Between caring for her orphaned nephew and working as a tech writer, Rhian MacGregor has spent several years perfecting the art of abstinence. But the arrival of Nathan Delaney—her gorgeous housepainter—has her contemplating a new instruction manual: Seducing Your Handyman.

She’s not thinking of getting serious, of course. She’s only got the summer to herself before it’s back to real life. Besides, Rhian doesn’t do serious, because the consequences are too painful.
Just as they will be when she finds out who Nathan really is…

Wanted Man by Ellen HartmanDear Mrs. Hartman,

I guess this is a reissue since the eharlequin website lists it with a publication date of 2007 and an onsale date of September 2011 but whatever it is, I’m glad I’m finally reading it. Oh, and I love that the cover shows the pepto bismol pink painted house that Nathan paints to get into Rhian’s life. Cover images that match what actually happens in the book – yeah!

Okay the set up for the book requires a little suspension of belief about Nathan. I know some famous authors are fairly reclusive but the lengths to which he’s gone just don’t seem like even they’d be enough. Not with today’s easy access via the Internet to everything about everybody. But I’ll just go with it and keep reading. The celebrity, tabloid “journalist” daytime show host’s decision to discover who author Chris Senso really is seems all too real though. Anything for increased ratings no matter who it might hurt or whose life it might change. That being said, the way you’ve fashioned the character of Lindsey Hall makes her sound exactly like the uber exuberant, “will stop at nothing to get the story,” “perfect hair and makeup” type of modern TV personality. Can I say I fairly much despise them? Yes, I can. And Nathan’s ex Patricia – wow, what was he thinking to get hooked up with her? The scene at the end where those two are pitted against each other is worth it though as the perfect revenge.

Nathan Delaney does have some concrete reasons why he wants privacy – both as Nathan and as his nom de plume “Chris.” Because of his bad experience as a college basketball player, I can see why he isn’t eager to be in the spotlight anymore. And why he’s initially skittish when first introduced to Rhian’s friends and her nephew Jem’s family. I like the slow, sweet build up to a physical relationship that they have but I could see the Big Mis situation coming. When one character tells another “I have something to tell you” and that telling gets interrupted for sex, the hand grenade explosion isn’t far off. Nathan loses a few points with me for his reaction to what happens and I’m not entirely sure his initial “I’m sorry, I should have believed you” is enough for me. The man had lots of chances before that night to tell the truth.

Rhian starts the book as if she’s going to turn into one of those martyrs who gives up her entire life for the service of others. I do like the relationship she has with Jem but I’m glad she is going to have most of the summer to herself and that she already plans on having some adult fun when she’s got the chance. And that she goes ahead with her dream and actually finishes it! The HFN ending to that – her being an author – is a nice change from the usual “she becomes a huge worldwide star with her first book!” epilogues I’ve read in the past.

Matt and Min – kind of sound like they’re a pair of cartoon mice, don’t they – are fun secondary characters and really help with the way Nathan resolves the whole issue of his privacy. Jem comes across like an eight year old, basketball mad little boy who hasn’t quite gotten to the independent “don’t hug me in public” stage yet. He’s in the story just enough to not annoy me.

I might not always end up reviewing all your books but I do always look at them and here I’m glad that I’ve got a chance at reading this one that’s been out for a while. Ebooks are wonderful and reissued backlists are even better. B-

~Jayne

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REVIEW: Married by June by Ellen Hartman

REVIEW: Married by June by Ellen Hartman

Dear Ms. Hartman:

This turned out to be such a lovely book and in a way that totally surprised me. The story opens with Cooper Murphy proposing to Jorie Burke after knowing each other for six months, in a totally romantic and kind of scary way (come on, it was kind of creepy because the reader doesn’t really know Cooper and Jorie and you get the idea that they don’t know each other either). Frankly, I don’t know if the proposal was the best place to start even though there is some nice synchronicity in the end.

Married by June  by 	Ellen Hartman The story is about Cooper and Jorie actually falling in love which, unfortunately, happens after the marriage proposal and not before. Jorie’s mother dying wish was for Jorie to get married and she got The Wish Dream to agree to pay for the wedding. (I called “Make a Wish” in my head). As she was dying, she encouraged Cooper to ask Jorie to marry him, not wanting Jorie to be alone. Cooper, caught up in the idea of being the white knight on the charger, does so. As he attempts to write his vows six months later, he realizes that he can’t marry Jorie. As a speechwriter, his inability to articulate his commitment to Jorie on paper is meaningful and he breaks it to Jorie almost immediately.

Jorie’s life is falling apart. Her job as a wedding planner is struggling because since her mother’s death, she’s not been able to connect with her brides. Wedding planning used to be effortless and at one time she was called the “wedding whisperer” by one happy bride. Now her bridal themes include movies where every one dies at the end.

But Jorie isn’t the only one who is reeling. Cooper finds out that he has to write a resignation speech for his brother, the US Senator, who has gotten someone other than his wife pregnant. Worse, his father wants Cooper to serve out his brother’s term so that the seat can be set up for their cousin Theo. Cooper’s whole world has been laboring for his father, then his brother, writing campaign speeches and position statements.

Finding out his older brother was fallible, seeing his family turn on the older brother, is creating a rift in Cooper’s world. Nothing really makes sense anymore. And now, in order to hold the seat, Cooper has to go and convince Jorie that he isn’t quite ready to call off the wedding because “bride jilter” is not much better than “cheater.”  He doesn’t really want to do this to Jorie and he tries to remember what led him to the path of engagement in the first place.

He remembered it from their first blind date. They’d been set up by their mothers, who’d met at a spa in Arizona. Chelsea had been living there and Rachel had gone for a reunion with some college friends. He’d asked Jorie where she’d like to go and she suggested a trip to the Antietam Battle Museum with that same challenge in her eye. She told him later she’d hoped the museum would scare him off. Her mom had a habit of setting her up on blind dates and she’d developed a strategy of boring the guys to death so they wouldn’t call again. Instead, he’d told her he loved the Antietam Museum and she’d given him her first genuine smile, putting one hand on her hip and leaning toward him just enough that he noticed her breasts. He’d realized in that second that he was going on a date with a beautiful history geek who had a hot body and a killer smile and he’d started scheming right then to get closer to her.

Once the engagement was on, though, Jorie didn’t talk to Cooper about anything but the wedding and whatever connection they had slipped away.  Jorie and Cooper flip flop positions more than once through the story as we trace their path from meeting to engagement to break up to falling in love, for real this time, because they both learn a little more about themselves, what it means to love someone else and how to juxtapose that love with life’s obligations. Cooper wants his life back to normal and Jorrie is grieving for her mother.

The farther I got into the story, the more I appreciated it. One thing I like about straight up contemporaries is that it focuses on the characters and in good straight contemporaries, you really get to explore the concept of love being buffeted by reality. There is no soul mate connection telling Jorie and Cooper that they have to stay together, no metaphysical imperative driving them to be one, and no serial killer forcing their emotions to a fevered pitch. Instead, it’s two ordinary people trying to figure out their way in life.

There were a couple of other scenes in the book (particularly one that is designed to show Cooper’s manly side) that seemed out of sync with the rest of the story, as if I was supposed to be convinced that Cooper’s testosterone level was sufficient for him to be cast in the part of “leading male, romance hero”.  And I wished that Jorie, at times, would have been a bit more proactive.  Cooper really lead the romance dance, even when he was breaking up with Josie for her own good.  (or maybe particularly so).

However, I particularly loved how Cooper would write in his little speech book every one of the promises he wanted to make Jorie. It was truly like watching someone fall in love which is part of the magic of romances. I just hope other readers won’t be dissuaded by the opening scene. Perhaps I am the only one it bothered. B

Best regards,

Jane

PS for those who have trouble envisioning a hot speechwriter, let me help you.

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