Ain't Too Proud to Beg
For the most part, this one works. But be prepared for major clichés, a high degree of wackiness, and painfully obvious series set ups along the way.
San Francisco newspaper writer Josie Sheehan is 35 and a veteran of a string of failed relationships. In a miraculous three paragraphs, she loses 10 pounds, buys a hip new wardrobe, and gets a great haircut – all of which give her the courage to barge into the workplace of the hot guy she just met. Turns out that instead of the dog groomer she thought he was, Rick Rousseau is really the owner of a string of pet stores and the scion of an east coast dynasty. He is also, of course, rich and by that I don’t mean just plain rich, I mean rich in an HP kind of way. The kind of rich you don’t often come across in contemporary single title romance anymore.
Rick is also Damaged – definitely with a cap D. Seven years earlier he drove a motorcycle while both drunk and high and the resulting accident left his young woman passenger in a coma. As the book opens, Rick’s victim has just died. He feels genuine remorse for the death and has spent the last seven years remaking himself into a better person – make that a w-a-a-a-a-y better person. Rick donates millions, doesn’t drink or do drugs, and hasn’t had sex in seven years. That’s right, he’s celibate.
Only he can’t deny his attraction to cute, wacky Josie. Soon enough (and it does seem rather vroom-vroom fast) they’ve moved from dinner dates to spending a weekend at Rick’s gorgeous vineyard estate to deciding that it’s really and truly forever and ever.
Their super train to an HEA, however, is about to be derailed. The father of the woman who died at Rick’s hands wants revenge. Of the eye for an eye kind. Which, as you can imagine, spells problems ahead for Josie and Rick.
Honestly, looking back on my reactions to this book, I’m coming up with mostly quibbles. But I did enjoy the story. I really did.
But, there’s no denying that Josie came across as a bit cartoonish – never once did I feel as if she was a real person having real person reactions. And Rick is just too, too perfect. Rich, handsome, and good! Good, good, good, good, good!
Not to even mention that Josie’s fellow dog walking friends (and future heroines) make a wacky pact to swear off men. Okay, bad enough. But these intelligent, successful, professional women take this romance novel cliché to the ridiculous point of Josie hiding from her friends the fact that she’s seeing Rick (betrayal!) to zany scenes in which her pals stalk her to try to catch her out. Only in a romance novel, right?
Then there is the bad guy. Now keep in mind that he lost his daughter in a tragic accident at the hands of a drunken, irresponsible, entitled idiot, so it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for him. But, again, it’s all over the top and the resolution especially so. Not to even mention the book’s tone problems, with the story careening from wacky pacts to people dealing with genuine grief and remorse to mucho adorable dog goofiness, and the antics of a cute (and, yes, wacky) old lady. It’s jarring. Make that very jarring.
Still, there is a charm and a breeziness here (despite some pretty tough subject matter) that kept me reading and largely enjoying the book. It’s just that Susan Donovan is a writer from whom I expect a lot. I don’t always get it, but the expectation is definitely there.