A Sure Thing
Are you tired of romance series featuring large families? Then A Sure Thing probably isn’t for you. This is the first in Marie Harte’s The Donnigans series, featuring a large, dysfunctional Seattle family. While parts of the book felt familiar – a wounded Afghan vet back in the U.S., a large number of siblings and extended family getting involved in the romance – for the most part I enjoyed the book and liked both the hero and heroine.
Landon Donnigan hoped to spend his entire life in the Marines, but a wound incurred in Afghanistan forced him to take a medical discharge. He’s now back in Seattle working in a business management position. While not the job of his dreams, Landon’s good at it and is making the best of things. But what seems to take up even more of his time is attempting to care for his various siblings. One of Landon’s brother’s, suffering from PTSD, is drinking too much. His youngest brother is drifting, unsure of what he wants to do with his life. And Landon’s sister has been dating an endless series of losers, including the latest who may be physically abusive.
Landon’s family takes up so much time and energy, that he hasn’t been with a woman since he broke up with his last girlfriend two months earlier. He’s not looking for a long term relationship, but when he spots a gorgeous woman while working out at a gym he’s definitely interested.
When Ava Rosenthal spots Landon in the gym she definitely thinks he’s sexy, but knows he’s not her type. He’s too big, too muscular. She likes smaller men closer to her own height, so she can fight them off if they get handsy. And when Landon tells her she’s working out with weights incorrectly she gets irritated. He’s clearly too bossy.
The next time Ava runs into Landon, she’s on a date arranged through an online site. Her date fits all her criteria – not too big, professional, likes conversation – and things are going well. Then Landon walks in and sits right next to her date at the bar and begins listening in on their conversation, giving her strange looks from time to time. The whole scene is funny, as are Landon’s comments when Ava’s date finally leaves.
Ava overanalyzes everything, which makes sense as she’s a clinical psychologist. She has a five year plan and has achieved success in all of it except having a husband and babies. There are some really funny scenes between Ava and Landon in the early stages of the story when Ava is trying to make it clear he’s not her type. The dialog between them is often sarcastic and funny. At one point when Ava is trying to discourage Landon, she tells him she prefers “cerebral” men, and wants children. Landon turns it around and says she’s hunting for a “baby-maker” and insists they date so she can cross him off her list of potentials. In spite of Ava’s plan to find the perfect man, they begin dating.
It’s clear Ava and Landon have off-the-charts sexual chemistry, and right off the bat, they have a lot of graphically described oral sex which, for the two of them doesn’t equate to having sex. Landon turns control of when they will do anything more over to Ava. She gets to decide when they have sex, but he gets to decide “what” and “how.” This works in many ways as it allows their relationship to build.
Ava comes to see that Landon cares more about being decent and genuine, than about looking grand or important. She challenges him intellectually. In turn, Ava realizes very quickly that in addition to being attracted to him physically (despite the fact that he’s not her type), she enjoys verbally sparring with him. We also get to see that Ava really is a strong woman.
The focus in the early portions of the book feels far more on Landon and his family than on Ava, but I enjoyed many of the scenes with Landon and his family. The author does a good job building the case that Landon isn’t just a meddler; his family really does need his help. That being said, several points toward the end of A Sure Thing feel more like a setup for the next books in the series than as a fitting conclusion to Ava and Landon’s romance, and for that, my grade dropped a bit.