Mr. Complete is the kind of book that left me more impressed with the author than the book itself. Sheridon Smythe writes with a lively and engaging style that shows she has potential for delivering a good romantic comedy, but this story doesn’t really work.
When a paid escort ripped off Lydia Carmichael’s aunt Tempura, Lydia was out for revenge. Believing he loved her, Tempura gave the man money and her late husband’s car, only to have him disappear without a word. A heartbroken and humiliated Tempura closed herself in her mansion and refused to go out. Lydia wants justice for her aunt, so she decides to hire an escort from Mr. Complete Escort Services herself. All she has to do is prove he’ll have sex with her for money, and she can get the business shut down for prostitution.
But when Lydia concocts her plan in an Atlanta restaurant, Luke Reynolds, the owner of the escort service, just happens to be sitting at the next table and overhears her scheme. Luke has had nothing but trouble ever since his former foster brother opened a rival escort service and set out to destroy Luke’s business. Luke knows at least one of the disreputable escorts who worked for him was secretly working for his brother all along. Now, with his brother and the police gunning for his business, the last thing he needs is this woman making more trouble for him.
So when Lydia calls to arrange for an escort, Luke has himself assigned to her case. He intends to prove her wrong and show her there are reputable escorts. He also doesn’t know whether she’s secretly working with his brother and wants to dodge any potential sabotage. But resisting the urge to sleep with her won’t be easy since, the more time he spends with her, that’s exactly what he wants to do.
The story gets off to a good start, with a light, zippy tone and a fast pace right from the beginning. For the most part, the characters are all likable. This is a decent read, not bad by any means, but one which ultimately falls short in several ways.
The humor is hit-or-miss. There are some amusing lines and cute moments. There are also some lame ones, like one lifted straight out of There’s Something About Mary. There’s not much urgency in the attempts to destroy Luke’s agency because the villains are barely present in the story. The police don’t show up until late in the book and Luke’s foster brother, who many characters talk about, never appears. Despite all the fuss the characters make, it’s hard to care about this subplot because it never becomes serious until very late in the story.
But the biggest problem is that the whole story is built on misunderstandings. Obviously the premise begins with a misunderstanding, and it’s one that lasts almost the entire book. When it is finally cleared up and Luke and Lydia each know the truth about each other, the author trots out several more misunderstandings to keep them apart. The final third of the book is increasingly frustrating and annoying, until the story finally ends.
Smythe shows enough promise in Mr. Complete that I may try another book by her. She has the right style and voice for romantic comedy, and there are some good bursts of humor here that work. Ultimately, though, this story misfires as much as it clicks.