I didn't plan on him...or for him. I didn't plan on anything that had to do with Cal Donovan from Boston. Meeting him was a complete and utter surprise, taking me completely off guard. I met new people every single day in my line of work, and none of them affected me. Isn't that just the way of things? You could meet a thousand people, and they'd all mean nothing to you, but then you'd meet that one and they suddenly meant everything. I was a self-professed workaholic. When did making yourself your number-one priority become such a horrible thing? I wasn't entirely sure, but I learned fairly quickly after my last breakup that men don't like being second on a woman's priority list. And they seemed to be intimidated by a motivated female, calling me things like hard to handle, challenging, and difficult. Being single seemed to work best for me, and I didn't plan on changing my relationship status anytime soon. But then I met Cal. And he f***ing ruined everything.
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I am really surprised by all the rave reviews for this book. While it’s far from one of the worst romance novels I’ve read, there is no way it’s a 5 star read.
There are some good things about it - I think the writing is pretty smooth, and I think the delivery is pretty solid. But, while I appreciate a comment made by another reviewer that it is nice to read a ‘good old fashioned’ romance novel that isn’t trying to incorporate every sexual move and every romance novel component (though there are a few cliches thrown in,) a book does still have to have a little something going on to interest the reader. This book had so little plot that until chapter 19/20 there was nothing happening - no tension, no drama, no nothing but endless ‘this happened, then we ate this, then I wore this, then I met this person and talked to her, then I told him what I talked to her about, then we ate something else’....it was all bland, ‘day-in-the-life-of’ comprised of boring conversations between characters and long, repetitive internal ones:
“Do you need anything?” I asked Jules as she walked at my side. “I’m good.” “You sure you’re not hungry?” “Not yet.” “All right.”
Yawn. Yes, there was supposed to be a bit of tension - the long-distance relationship kind, and the professional drive vs. personal life kind, but it was just a little ripple in the pond which didn’t make itself felt. Then, because the author finally felt something needed to happen in the book, she forced it to become an issue by tossing a random cannonball into the water. After that, the book just sank like a cannonball, and the characters sank right along with it. They became childish and annoying and it all felt like a high school drama. No amount of rationalizing their behaviors or thought processes was going to bring them back to life. They were DOA, and even the super rushed HEA couldn’t resuscitate the book.
The story is narrated by both Jason Clarke and Erin Mallon, though Erin seems to narrate a larger chunk of the book. I think they both do a pretty solid job, though, it’s true, as another reviewer noted, that Erin does this little intake of breath after each sentence that sounds like her characters are making these little gasps a la Hillary Duff - that, plus she does this little quavery thing. Her narration makes her female characters sound timorous and worse - either like wide-eyed simpletons or impossibly fake ingenues. She does, however, speak clearly, uses good pacing and intonation and she does great male voices. It comes down to personal preference, but I do find that I am frequently distracted from the story because I find myself critiquing her delivery, so while she’s pretty good, she’s not my cup of tea. Jason Clarke was though.
SPOILER ALERT and a bit of a rant: I thought the way the author forced the drama in chapter 19/20 was pretty lame. It was great that something finally HAPPENED in the story, but Cal’s reaction to Jules’ taking a couple days off and passing on a full commission for a house was so overblown and unrealistic. And, the way he handled it via total radio silence was supremely juvenile. He couldn’t explain things to Jules because she would be ‘ruled by her emotions’ and would ‘fight him on his decision’? What? Likewise, Jules’ rapid fire transition from mature professional to pathetic hanger-on is hard to swallow - texting him again and again, mentally going on and on and on about her pained heart, it was tiresome to listen to for FOUR chapters. Then, the author wanted us to forgive Cal because he actually did it all to help Jules?
“When Jules had told me that day about handing off her client to her coworker, my chest had ached for her. The last thing I’d wanted was for her to sacrifice anything work-related because of me.......I figured she’d eventually hate me for it...”
Give me a break. You can’t go back now, J. Sterling - no amount of sweet talking is going to bring that character back from eye-rolling, you don’t make any sense but you keep on trying to sell it, pansy-assville. You wrote him into a corner, and you can’t write him out of it. Make your characters believable, consistent and rational. Sure people make mistakes, and sure they can be forgiven, but that kind of total wimpdom? No. Oh, and create real drama by building it rather than springing it. And Jules, really? When Cal put himself into your phone as ‘Dream Lips’ you shoulda known right then and there that he was not the one for you....it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t cute, it certainly wasn’t sexy, it was just gag-worthy. You got that, Babe?
The story was great. The characters were awesome. one issue I did have was with the Erin Mallon, her voice has a tendency to be whiney or insecure sounding and it was off putting at times. Jason Clarke however, has a gorgeous and sexy voice. Overall I was very happy with this book.