REVIEW: One and Only by Jenny Holiday
Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless
With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape–even if it means babysitting the groom’s troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the “cake” is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.
Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he’ll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he’s had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?
To understand this quote, you’ll have to read the book.
“Jane was pretty sure Hercules didn’t shop at Whole Foods.”
Dear Ms. Holiday,
It was your name that made me check this book out because frankly, the bridezilla with a bridesmaid who will do anything to keep the peace plot has been done to death. But I saw “Jenny Holiday” on the cover and that was enough for me to try it anyway. The rest of the blurb doesn’t do the book justice as it’s much deeper emotionally than what sounds like just hawt smexing in horrible dresses – be they plum or mulberry.
As the responsible member of their friendship circle, problem solving Jane is usually the one who gets delegated jobs but with Elise on full DIY, Pinterest bridezilla rampage, all of the group is getting dragged – smiling and trying to maintain happy faces – into whatever project the bride latches onto next. At this point they’ve turned to a nip of alcohol to get them through. Jane is even less thrilled at the idea of spray painting teapots so she actually jumps at the Assignment of the Day which is babysitting the groom’s brother. Cam has a reputation and it’s up to Jane to keep him from careening through the wedding plans like a loose cannon. Jane’s best friend Elise is still somewhere trapped inside this bridezilla so Jane sucks up and heads out.
Cam, freshly back from his second tour with the Canadian Forces knows a minder when he sees the one waiting for him at the airport. He doesn’t care if Jane keeps telling him she’s not there to babysit him, he knows she is. Right now she’s fucking with his “to do” list which includes bars, alcohol, fast cars and hot pick up sex. It’s not noble but he figures he deserves it for many and varied reasons. Buttoned up Plain Jane isn’t going to derail this and if she insists on tagging along, he’s going to poke at her. Just because. Cam is a little hurt that Jane, hell none of the bridal party, seem to know he existed but from his older brother’s perspective, Cam’s youthful activities – one barn burned, one girlfriend knocked up and a long history of antagonizing Jay and their mother – aren’t anything to brag about.
Jane swings into action at their first stop after roaring out of the Toronto airport with Cam in a Corvette – with a 6.2 liter, V-8 supercharged engine. The sound of freedom as Cam tells her. The next thing on his list is a stop at one of Toronto’s finest steakhouses where he’s appalled to see the salad she orders. As Jane cock-blocks Cam’s efforts with the blonde pixie waitress, he temps Jane with steak. Their conversation leads to Cam learning that Jane’s a multi-book published author – see, he knew from the start she was smart – and he even recognizes the portal fiction genre. Hmmm, Plain Jane has layers.
Cam begins to see that Jane acts as if she was born thirty years old but then his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned him a little world weary too. Yeah he’s seen some shit but meetings with the shrinks have given him some mental tools to try and deal with the worst of it. Beyond needling Jane he wants to get her to try some new things – like hanging off the highest building in Toronto. If it’ll keep Cam from another booty call, Jane sees it as a negotiation victory.
Jane surprises Cam with her daring during a day trip to Niagara Falls and he begins to see her as someone worthy of better than the random sex hook-up while she begins to see that there’s a lot more to this man whom no one knew about. Cam is totally honest about his past and admits to everything but why does Jane have the feeling that she still doesn’t know the whole story? The dares Cam comes up with makes Jane ponder the fact that she never takes risks anymore. And when did the last person take care of her who wasn’t obliged to?
Cam is reckless, impulsive and dangerous but he’s also been kind, considerate, well mannered. He takes care of people. Cam delights in seeing Jane in what he thinks of as Goddess Mode. Why on earth did he ever see her as Plain Jane? Yet even after the 3 alarm smoking hot sex starts, both are clear with the other that they’re not looking for a relationship. Been there, got hurt, don’t need it right now or maybe ever. But hope and hearts are a funny thing and they might not make it through the wedding without a Niagara Falls worth of introspection.
“Sometimes you have to open your eyes and jump.”
Throughout the book, we see Cam and Jane acting as others expect them to act but seeing for themselves the real people underneath. People have expected Cam to be a fuck up so they don’t know how he was trying to man up and make something of his life. Jane has learned to make herself unobtrusive, be in control and make sure things go smoothly. Cam’s time in trailer park hell followed by his time in the Army have exposed him to things he never wanted to experience and will deal with for the rest of his life. Jane’s alcoholic father’s disease took over her childhood and forced her to become the responsible one. Their family and friends might love them but it takes a fellow wounded soul to see what they’ve buried.
It needs Cam’s “take no prisoners” approach to sex for Jane to see what her previous boyfriend didn’t ensure she got. As he tells her, “…to my mind, being threatened by something you can use to give your girl screaming orgasms doesn’t sound like a very smart move.” Cam is totally on board with Jane’s “fine collection of vibrators” and looking forward to seeing what he can do for her with them.
Jane’s close friends might warn her about not letting Cam break her heart but Jane believes in Maya Angelou’s quote.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.”
Cam has shown her who he really is. But does he have the strength to believe in himself? To believe that he’s worthy of love? It’s going to take an Intervention plus a concession from the Bridezilla herself to get this romance back on track after Cam wounds Jane when Jane takes a risk and jumps with her eyes open. This is one wedding I would actually like to see – the walk down the aisle would be priceless while the wedding pictures alone will be collectors items and enough to spark a whole dinner party worth of conversation.
He waited until she’d hit the ground before saying, “I am completely, utterly, fiercely, surprisingly in love with you. I know you don’t believe in the concept of ‘the one.’ I wouldn’t have thought I did, either, but damned if I don’t want, more than anything else in the world, to be yours. Your one and only.”
“It scares me, though,” he went on. “You scare me.”
She saw, suddenly, that he had no experience with things going his way, with things going right.
And even more surprisingly? She also saw, suddenly, that she didn’t, either.
A sob escaped.
“Hey, hey, baby. Don’t cry.” He sat down, arranging himself cross-legged across from her. Reached out a hand as if he were going to touch her face but stopped short, like he didn’t have the right. “Kick my ass to the curb, but don’t cry over me. I’m not worth it.”
Jane swallowed the lump in her throat and reached for his hand. She did what she hadn’t been brave enough to do a moment ago, which was to bring it to her cheek. She made the biggest eyes-wide-open jump of all as she leaned into his palm and said, “Then don’t give me up. Be my ‘one.’ Let me love you—because I do.”
I wasn’t thrilled that Cam and Jane have to overcome a final hurdle to their HEA that seemed too pat – and both of them having the same hang up. I did love Jane’s friends, even the Bridezilla who proved her worth at the end. Kudos for not having true lurve magically erase all Cam’s and Jane’s real life issues. It’s not so much that they “fix” each other as that they understand and accept each other – that they see the best in each other. Plus Cam’s Prime Directive will be to cultivate Jane’s Goddess Mode. I hope we hear what costumes they’ll attend ComicCon in next year. B+