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REVIEW:  Just for Today by Emmie Dark

REVIEW: Just for Today by Emmie Dark

Dear Ms. Dark:

I had high expectations for this book after reading the Recommended Read review from Sunita of In His Eyes. Unfortunately the magic of that resonated in In His Eyes for Sunita didn’t carry over for me into Just for Today. It started out poorly when the hero, Sean Paterson, is described as the black sheep of his family of accountants. Despite his success as a comic book artist and horror novels, he is still looked upon disapprovingly. I’m sure Neil Gaiman’s family thinks to themselves, that poor schmuck earning money with his pencil instead of the calculator. He hit #1 on the NYTimes list, but we shall shun him and badger him into accounting where real men work.

This idea of him being frowned upon by his family when he was so successful lacked even a modicum of believability:

He was a multipublished author, so famous in his genre that his latest release commanded elaborate in-store promotion like cardboard cutouts and entire shelves dedicated to his new book.

….

“So,” Jess began when she’d taken enough deep breaths to calm herself, “why did Hailey tell me that you weren’t very successful? The way she described it, you’d written one or two books that were, well, struggling. Even Rob never said much about it.”

Sean shrugged. “Hailey has been spending a lot of time with my mother, from what I understand.”

“And?”“My father reads the newspaper. My mother only reads biographies and Nancy Mitford novels.”

Jess shook her head, not sure what he was getting at. “So?”

“So they have no idea what I do, what I’ve achieved.”

“Why haven’t you told them?”

“I’ve tried.”

Just for Today by Emmie DarkFrom the very beginning, the set up for Sean doesn’t work for me.  There is a slight bit of slut shaming as veterinarian Jess Alexander, the heroine, doesn’t do one night stands because she’s “not that kind of girl.” (Words repeated from the blurb). Only she must be because she goes home with Sean on the night of her nurse’s wedding to Sean’s brother.

The old chestnut of the good girl and bad boy is repeated throughout the story without any surprises or twists.  And Sean isn’t even bad and I’m not sure how Jess qualifies as good since she does go home with Sean that first night.  By her own standards, I think she’d fall within the not-so-good category.

If we could have stripped away the labels and not had that been the conflict, Just for Today, could have worked because Jess, in particular, was more interesting than the early pages make her out to be.  She runs out on Sean, uninterested in more than a one night stand, and this is an affront to Sean who wanted a bonus early morning round at the very least.

When the housesitter hired by Sean’s brother flakes as the brother is about to leave on his honeymoon, Sean agrees to stay for six weeks.  Because Sean is an inept creative type, he breaks the plumbing, misses the dog eating some pills, and is generally not to be trusted doing anything responsible.  At times he was portrayed as incapable of taking care of himself.

Portraying Sean as this hapless lothario was kind weird.  He had tons of short term relationships but was so spacey that he’d often drift off into his fantasy world involving his main character in the middle of actual conversations.  It was hard to see Sean as both socially awkward and so amazing with the ladies that he had a bad boy reputation.  There wasn’t anything “bad” about Sean. He was successful, a good listener, and understanding.

Jess’ feelings of inadequacy based on her husband’s infidelity was more understandable. Her vulnerability well conveyed.  However, for adult as these two characters were supposed to be, their interactions were fraught with immature behavior.  I guess it was for the conflict.

While the book had potential, it never delivered for me, relying too heavily on overly common character tropes.  C

Best regards,

Jane

 

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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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