Just Say Maybe by Tracy March
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
1 1/2 stars, technically.
Holly Birdsong first encounters Bryce Bennett when he crashes his rented mountain bike after riding too recklessly down a trail. She next encounters him when he walks into her law office seeking a real estate attorney who can help him with purchasing an abandoned lodge that has caused everyone in the small town of Thistle Bend, Colorado, a great deal of heartache, especially Holly's family. Their attraction is instant...and threatened by secrets and emotional baggage from prior relationships.
I so wanted to like this more than I did! I really liked the first book in this series, and Holly was one of my favorite secondary characters in that one, so I was excited to get my hands on the eGalley copy of this one, courtesy of NetGalley (in exchange for my honest review), but...ugh. I couldn't wait for it to end, almost from the first page. That is never a good sign, and if I hadn't been reading an ARC, I'd have quit and moved on to something better. But I felt obligated to keep reading, and I just kept hoping it'd improve. I did enjoy the brief scenes with the Montgomery sisters, so it wasn't all bad.
I know other reviewers have raved over this book, but I read for character (a la Nancy Pearl's Appeal Doorways), and this book had immature, one-dimensional characters, including the protagonists. They came off as shallow and superficial to me, perhaps because Ms. March spent so much time describing how they looked and how hot and sexy they were. One of the many instances where less would have been so much more! I kept thinking, "SHOW them falling in love, don't tell!" Also, I wish all romance authors would stop writing until they have been through all of Alison Armstrong's workshops about understanding men and women. Lust DOES NOT EQUATE NOR NECESSARILY LEAD TO love, people! No amount of flipping your hair or acting like a ninny is going to make a man fall in love with you. Neither is strutting or showing off going to make a woman want to spend her life with you.
There was virtually no character development or real growth. I don't want to include any spoilers, so I'll just say that Holly's lack of faith in Bryce near the end disappointed me--it was childish of her to jump to (illogical) conclusions and not at least listen to what he had to say. That's not how you should treat people you (supposedly) love!
To sum up: this installment of the series felt juvenile, like it was written by maybe a college student, not the same author who wrote Should've Said No. Or perhaps it was just rushed to print without sufficient revisions and editing? *sigh* I think I'll wait until the 3rd book is actually published before reading it so that I can quit if it's as bad as this one. I really hope it turns out to be as good as or better than the first!
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting secondary. There are several sex scenes and lots of sexual references (see above about confusing lust with love). Some swearing. No violence.
p.s. Why is the woman on the cover wearing an apron? Holly is an attorney, not a baker or chef!
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