She Said, He Said
She Said, He Said is a light contemporary romance told in an atypical way. The story unfolds in first-person from both the hero and heroine’s P.O.V. It’s a decent read, but not a particularly satisfying one.
Megan Sullivan and Jack Spencer grew up together on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They lived in neighboring apartments. Their mothers (known to one and all as the Ritas) were best friends, and so were Megan and Jack. Their mothers dreamed they would fall in love with each other, but it never happened. Then came a fateful New Year’s Eve when Megan was supposed to get married. Instead, her fiance ran off with their wedding planner. Depressed, Megan was comforted by Jack. One thing led to another and they had sex. The next morning Jack apologized for what happened. Megan got mad and stomped off.
They haven’t spoken for months when their mothers conspire to get them together. Jack is an actor who recently hit it big as a regular on the network drama “The D.A.” He’s moving into a new apartment and their mothers arrange for Megan, an interior designer, to decorate his new home. Working together soon forces them to confront their feelings for each other.
Cheryl Kushner gives her story a Chick Lit feel, with a breezy, conversational style. The author uses plenty of narrative flourishes, throwing in little interjections, using bullet points, and relating some of the conversations like dialogue from a play. Some of the gimmicks occasionally make the story a little harder to get into than if it were told in a more conventional way, but they also give the book a bit more of a contemporary sensibility than regular Harlequins, including other Flipsides.
The story is fun in a slick, glossy kind of way, but beneath the gimmicks and the unusual narrative style, it’s just not very interesting. Jack and Megan are both shallow characters, and the first-person perspective didn’t make them seem any less one-dimensional. Mostly this romance seemed like much ado about nothing. Nothing seems to happen and it never seems to go anywhere. I couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t just get together. Megan is interested in Jack, but spends most of the book denying her feelings for reasons that never made any sense to me. Jack is interested in Megan, but wastes a lot of time not doing anything about it. He spends part of the story dating an L.A. publicist, a Valley Girl stereotype so cartoonish she’s obviously here only so the New York characters can feel superior and spend time mocking her. I suppose in some respects, the story is more realistic than many romances, the way the characters waver indecisively and the love story proceeds slowly and not at all smoothly. But after a while, I just didn’t care anymore. I needed to feel like they were getting somewhere in their romance, and for most of the book, they just weren’t.
The author does offer an appealing cast of supporting characters. According to the author’s note in the beginning of the book, she lived in New York for a while, and I think it shows. The story has a nice sense of place, even if some of the details of Jack’s showbiz career aren’t realistic. In addition, Jack and Megan both seem like nice people. It’s just too bad the author doesn’t make better use of her good characters and great setting, putting them in a more interesting story than this one.