Instant Gratification is the second book in a trilogy about three daredevil brothers, and though it’s not without its problems, I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read.
Dr. Emma Sinclair is used to the fast-paced urban life of New York City, so she feels a bit out of her element when she moves to small town Wishful, California to help her ailing father with his medical clinic. Emma only plans to stay until her father has sufficiently recovered from his heart attack and can continue running the practice, and then she’s heading back to New York City.
Stone Wilder (yes, that’s really his name) is one of the co-owners of Wilder Adventures, an outdoor adventure/expedition company. While Stone loves leading the various rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking expeditions, lately he’s been feeling like something is missing from his life.
Stone and Emma “meet cute” when Stone is brought into the clinic with cracked ribs, bleeding gashes, and a serious case of road rash. Stone humorously plays the tough guy role to hide the fact that he’s petrified of needles, while Emma steadfastly ignores his assertions that Band-Aids are a cure-all, and tries to ignore their mutual physical attraction.
While there was much to like about Instant Gratification, there were some issues that dropped the book down to a B-. I like to end on a positive note, so I’ll start with the bad stuff first. The two main reasons for the grade were the secondary characters and sagging middle. Many of the secondary characters felt two-dimensional, and it’s hard to really dig into a book when the secondary players feel like caricatures instead of characters. There was also a secondary romance introduced late in the book which was interesting, but would have benefited from more page space, and would have helped perk up the sagging middle had it been introduced earlier on.
Two minor quibbles I had were Stone’s super-human healing powers, and all the rehashing of the first book in the series. As to the first, I just don’t believe that after a few days Stone could be leading rock climbing and whitewater kayaking tours with apparent ease after the injuries he sustained. As for the latter, I don’t mind when previous books in a series are discussed in the current book. What I don’t care for is when the plot re-hash feels like a contrived insert into the current story.
Now, on to the good stuff. Despite the issues I’ve raised, I really did enjoy Instant Gratification. I smiled often, laughed out loud on occasion, and generally had a good time. Although different in many ways, I thought Stone complemented Emma well. Emma helps fill the void Stone feels in his life; he’s laid-back where she’s uptight; she’s distant from her family where he’s close with his. All in all, I thought they were good together.
Also on the plus side: the author’s self-deprecating meet-cute humor at the end. I love it when an author is self-aware enough to recognize her use of a plot-device such as the “meet cute,” and love it even more when she’s confident enough to admit it and insert a joke about it into the story.
I’m giving Instant Gratification a qualified recommendation because, in spite of the criticisms I had, I found it to be an enjoyable read. When I’m left smiling at the end of a book, it’s hard not to recommend it.