Published: May 3, 2016
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Heartbroken handyman Avery Dean can’t get away from his ex—who just happens to be the maid of honor in his sister’s upcoming wedding. As the best man, Avery has to grin and bear his sister’s misguided attempts to get them back together, until the perfect excuse presents itself in a pretty out-of-towner.
With her time in Cricket Creek, Kentucky, coming to an end, hair stylist Sophia Gordon can’t deny the town’s charms, or her attraction to Avery Dean. That’s why she finds herself saying yes to dinner, and then, a wedding date.
Sophia agrees to be Avery’s pretend girlfriend until the big day is over, but when their make-believe fling shows signs of real passion, Sophia starts to wonder if staying in Cricket Creek could make all her wishes come true.
Sometimes, bad reviews are the most fun to write. Other times, it just makes me, well, sad. And this is one of those times. This was a book that just didn't work for me on any level. I felt that the potential was there, but it just never materialized.
I should start with a quick disclaimer. I didn't realize when I agreed to read this book that it was the 10th in a series. Because of that, I felt like the action had started long before the first page and that I was missing out on some character development. If I had read the earlier the books, this might not have been an issue. So, even though the lack of character development irked me, it is the one thing I'm willing to give a pass.
I did have moderately high expectations for this book, simply because the set up was intriguing. There are two things going on. One is a the "two people pretend to fall in love for show, only to fall in love in reality. It sounds dorky, but it is pretty common in romance novels and it does tend to work for me. The other part of it is a good old fashioned love triangle--I hate to admit it, but I'm a sucker for those. The problem is that the book really isn't either of these things. The characters are already in love with each other at the beginning, which eliminates pretty much all romantic tension. The love triangle, such as it is, is more a case of a jealous third party.
There are actually two love stories here, which is...odd. I couldn't quite figure out where McLane was going with that, but it came off as if she had two stories, neither of which were strong enough on their own to support a book, so she put the two of them together. Instead of creating one complete book, it just felt unfinished and I wasn't able to get emotionally involved in either story.
I was problems with McLane's writing. For one thing, she spends far more time telling than showing. I get it--there are times when you just have to tell, but those should be few and far between. Here, it is the bulk of the narrative. All that does is keep a wall between the reader and the story, which prevents the reader from forming any sort of emotional attachments to the characters. There were also long passages to catch up the readers on what apparently happened in the first 9 books of the series--which did nothing more than to take up space because most of the characters did not even play a part in this book.
The characters were another problem for me--they were all so, well, perfect. I don't think any of them had any flaws, except Ashley (the third corner in the triangle), who was all flaws. No one had any depth at all and none were believable.
This problem was amplified by the dialogue. None of the characters had an individual voice! So, if I picked up the book in the midst of a section of dialogue, I'd have no idea what characters were speaking. The male characters, Avery and Easton, were not even very male. I don't want to say they were exactly feminine, but they definitely came across more like female characters than male. I can't even tell you how many passages there were of these two men dissecting their feelings. Don't get me wrong, men talking about feelings is a good thing--but what is presented here is just plain unrealistic.
Finally, I felt the text needed a few more run-throughs with editors and copy editors. I wouldn't say that it was littered with grammatical errors, but there were enough for it to be noticeable. There was also just some messy issues that should never have made it to print. One example (it was near the end of the book, so it is fresh in my mind) took place when two characters were chatting in a hot tub. At one point, the jets come on...which is find. We then have a few paragraphs of dialogue which, again, had its own issue...and then we're told again that the jets come on--which just happened a few paragraphs before. This is the sort of thing that should be corrected before the book makes it to print.
I really wish this book had worked for me. The premise had great promise, but I think the story may have been doomed from the start.
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.