A Man Like Mike
The back blurb can be a reader’s best friend, but the trick is to pay attention to every detail. That I didn’t do when picking A Man Like Mike to review. My interest was intrigued by “Corporate professional Eve O’Brien needs a crash course in parenting” instead of paying attention to “A lonely, neglected child, Eve has learned to rely only on herself.” With the first sentence I was expecting a humorous story like Baby Boom, the 1987 film starting Diane Keaton, but that I didn’t get. Instead this is a story of about a woman with a horrible childhood that damaged her ability to trust.
Eve O’Brien’s vibrant, vivacious, adrenaline junkie best friend Jacinta was afraid she was losing a big part of herself with motherhood. So she convinced her husband, Derek to go sky diving. Tragically, the plane crashed, and they both died. Jacinta, who could twist Derek around her little finger, also persuaded him that Eve should be guardian to their son Bailey.
To say that Eve is astonished is an understatement. Bailey does have immediate family – Derek’s parents and brother are still alive. Not that she thinks that Derek’s brother Mike would be a better choice. Mike, while charismatic, doesn’t seem to be able to stick to anything. Derek always spoke a little disparagingly about Mike’s recklessness and impulsive attitude. However, Derek did leave Mike the house.
Mike is Eve’s rock during the funeral. He even insists that she move into Jacinta and Derek’s former home, to minimize the disruption to Bailey. And then he disappears.
Mike knew that Derek thought him irresponsible. Pride and maybe resentment of Derek’s status as the golden son caused him to do nothing to dispel that opinion even though he is a highly successful chef. He had a prosperous income as a partner in taverna on the Greek Isle of Santorini. But his nephew Bailey needs a man in his life and Mike is unwavering in his determination to fill that need. After the funeral he flies back to Greece, and sells his share of the business and then returns to Shorncliffe, a suburb of Brisbane, and to Bailey.
Eve looks frazzled, and since Mike wants to be actively involved in Bailey’s life, he proposes that he move in the house and share child care responsibilities. Eve is not enthusiastic about sharing the house with a man, especially an attractive one with a womanizing reputation, but it is Mike’s house.
Soon the positives are definitely outweighing the negatives, especially when Mike has dinner on the table when she comes home from work. And Bailey loves his uncle. Mike has taken to child rearing like a pro. He doesn’t seem frayed with worry about doing the wrong thing. In fact Mike scoffs at Eve’s collection of baby rearing books. If only he weren’t so attractive.
The sexual awareness between the two is nothing new. They both felt it after meeting at Jacinta and Derek’s wedding. But Jacinta warned Mike off, and Eve sure wasn’t looking to be a notch on Mike’s bed post. But nowthat they are living together, it is harder and harder to ignore the growing heat between them. Still the lesson Eve learned as a child prevents her from fully believing in Mike and her own feelings.
I do realize that a portion of my grade reflects my disappointment in the storyline. It is difficult to reconcile expectations. Still, I found Eve frustrating. Trust is built by opening up even if slowly, and asking questions of others. Eve jumps to conclusions and fails to take Mike’s actions into consideration. Also I don’t have a lot of patience with the childhood issues. Of course I am sympathetic to the trauma of poor parenting, but at some point as an adult you recognize that you have issues and work through them instead of constantly thinking that you can only reply on yourself.
I also was very disappointed in the lack of Australian colloquialisms. I am not sure why Harlequin is introducing Australian stories to the United States readers when the book seems whitewashed of that country’s characteristics. Honestly, I read more germane stories from Australian writers in the Superromance line.
Your enjoyment of the story will depend on your expectations. If you like your heroines slightly tortured and are not expecting realistic Australian dialogue, then you may like this book more than I did.