Dinner First, Me Later
I am about done with contemporary romance save my usual auto-buy authors that I can rely on. I think Dinner First, Me Later was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Boring, absurd, and exasperating aptly describe my reading experience.
Jake Sims, a retired baseball star, is fighting for custody of his 13-year-old daughter from his evil ex-mother-in-law. The former playboy just bought a nice house in a suburban Chicago development and plans on devoting his life to his daughter, with whom he hasn’t had much contact over the years.
Alicia Greene is the real estate agent who sold Jake the house that is conveniently located across the cul-de-sac from her own home. They meet, they attract each other, Jake keeps his eye on the prize – giving his daughter a good home – and Alicia turns into a schizophrenic. The pair does a little fantasizing and some over the phone nooky, while trying to help Danielle settle into her new life. Blah.
It’s not hard to like Jake – well, it wouldn’t be if there was more to his character. He’s an upstanding guy who realizes his past mistakes and takes pains to correct them. His teenage daughter has a major grudge against him because of the lies her grandmother told her over the years. Instead of taking the easy way out with excuses, he shows Danielle his love. My respect for him grew throughout the book, even if he lacked that 3D quality we look for in heroes.
Alicia is another story altogether. Described as a cross between Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith – with a Harvard degree – I wasn’t in her fan club from the start. She’s cold and uptight. Many good characters start out this way, but Alicia didn’t progress very far during the story. It’s her actions during the first half of the book that disgust me: shamelessly trying to attract Jake, becoming enraged when he doesn’t respond, and then pushing him away when she finally drives him to the edge. She is just too much. The story would have benefited nicely from her early demise – at, say, around page 15.
Jake’s daughter Danielle was definitely a key player. She tries to do what’s right, believing she needs to please her grandmother, but at the same time, she starts to question the lies told to her about Jake throughout her life. She desperately wants love and a real family, it just takes her a little time to come to that conclusion. As with Jake, her character could have used more definition. It’s that pesky romance that stood in its way.
Dinner First, Me Later is the second in the Housewives Fantasy Club series, a group of four neighbors who get together each week and discuss their fantasies. I hadn’t read the first book, but the idea of these women coming together every week to discus fantasies was far-fetched. Particularly so in that the book barely mentions it, so I never got the feel for what exactly goes on at these meetings. Alicia is the only single member without children. She’s also the only one (unless I missed something in the first book) with a career. Honestly, it didn’t seem as though any of them really liked each other. Opposites attract, I know, even in friends, but I just didn’t buy the friendships. This was a small part of the overall story, yet it is supposed to be the foundation for the series.
What could have been an engaging father/daughter story was ruined by the author’s insistence on making this a romance. Dinner First, Me Later might have a sexy cover and catchy title, but no matter how you put it, it’s not worth it.