One True Pairing
Okay, y’all. This book is a lot of things. It’s got insta-love/insta-lust, it’s got a fake-relationship, it’s got a famous actor falling for a ‘normal person’. Throw in a stalker subplot, an agoraphobic sister, and it’s a lot to pack into 200 pages. That being said, it’s generally successful and a lot of fun and I’d encourage passionate fandom members to give it a shot, particularly if Supernatural is one of those fandoms.
Jake Reese is the son of a Hollywood legend, who also happens to be a walking advertisement for Fatherhood: What Not To Do. Jake is struggling with being his own man and creating his own career, but he also cannot seem to keep his father from butting in. This is not helped by the fact that Dad is still a beloved figure and his crappy parenting is generally not public knowledge. He’s got the ear of Jake’s agent, which causes no shortage of angst for our hero. Currently, Jake is on a show called Mystics – about (to the best of my understanding) Knights Templar who fight crime/evil and travel through time. Ms. Yardley references the Winchester brothers and Supernatural enough that I’m sure we’re meant to believe it’s a bit like that. Jake loves his co-stars, he loves being on the show and he wants to stay with it, but his agent is telling him that he may not be picked up for the next season.
Mystics is on basic cable and therefore relies heavily on its fans. They’re doing their first fan focused convention in a small Washington town outside of Seattle, and when we meet Jake, he’s fleeing from a group of overzealous fans who have literally torn his clothing to get a piece of him. To hide, he dives into a coffee shop and takes refuge behind the counter, only to meet our heroine and get hit by the insta-lust bug.
Hailey Frost is one of the most self-assured and feminist heroines I’ve read in a long while. She knows who she is, what she wants, and what is most important to her. After a truly horrific childhood, she’s gathered the two most important people in her life close to her and does not see any need for anyone else. Sex is fantastic, she’d like a lot of it, but love and romance and covenant? Nah, she’s good. She’s also savvy and desperate, because the bookstore she runs with her sisters is careening towards closure if they don’t do something drastic. When Hailey finds out that Jake is in need of publicity to increase his Q-score, she strikes a deal with him. She’ll be his fake girlfriend in exchange for his making a personal appearance at the bookstore.
There is a lot of drama in the ensuing pages as we head towards our happily ever after for Jake and Hailey. There’s drama with the bookstore, drama with his contract, and drama within themselves. If that had been all there was, I’d’ve been much happier with this book, but instead the author adds in a stalker subplot that just doesn’t ring true. For a book that celebrates consent and confidence so strongly in Hailey, to dip into the stereotypical crazed lady fan in the vein of Brooke Shields on Friends just felt off-kilter. If it had been eliminated completely, I’m think the book would have been stronger.
That’s not going to deter me from reading more works by Ms. Yardley. I appreciate her celebration of this sect of society and her explorations of romance for geeks, nerds, and all of us who enjoy deep dives into fictional worlds via video games, television, movies, or books. I wish Jake and Hailey all the best in their HEA, and look forward to whoever we’ll be meeting next.