Tangling with Ty
It’s hard to call an author to task for being too ambitious, but in this case I’ve simply got to do it.
In this second entry in her South Beach Singles series, author Jill Shalvis has undertaken the tremendous task of featuring both a hero and heroine with some pretty darn serious issues – the kind of issues that shouldn’t be resolved in either a 30-minute sitcom or a 219-page series romance.
A surgeon at the ripe old age of 27, Nicole Mann has achieved her impressive position as the result of a total dedication to her education and career. The off-the-charts genius is so socially reclusive and single-minded that the comfort of close friends and the mindless joy of flaking out in front of I Love Lucy reruns are pleasures completely unknown to her. Beyond the satisfaction she gets from keeping in shape, her interest in her personal appearance is so low that her everyday uniform consists of camouflage pants and tank tops.
But things might be changing in Nicole’s disciplined world. Though she’s clearly learning as she goes along, Nicole has found herself involved in a close friendship with Taylor, the owner of her building and Suzanne, the heroine of Roughing It with Ryan. The three seem to have made some kind of stay-single-forever pact, an agreement that both Taylor and Nicole, despite the defection of their newly engaged friend, plan to keep.
Enter architect Ty O’Grady. The sexy jeans-clad architect – with the Irish (or is it Australian?) accent – bidding on the renovation of the historic apartment building rubs Nicole the wrong way from their very first meeting. And though both are immediately attracted, Nicole wants nothing to do with any man, much less one so clearly hazardous to her determination not to get involved.
Ty, for his part, is more than willing to get involved with Nicole in the you-know-how kind of way, but he’s far less inclined towards anything even remotely more serious. Raised in brutal poverty in Ireland by a mother who eventually abandoned him, Ty’s salvation came in the form of adoption by a kindly Australian cop . Though Ty found security in his new life, he’s never gotten over the tragic circumstances of his early years. Determined to make enough money to protect himself from poverty forever and equally focused on remaining footloose and fancy free, the mysterious emails he begins receiving asking about his Dublin roots are anything but welcome.
Tangling with Ty is a character, not a plot-driven, book and the author does a great job of exploring the motivations of both Nicole and Ty. Still, I can’t help but feel that featuring two such complicated characters in this very short romance does both a grave disservice. As described by the author, Nicole’s reclusiveness goes far beyond that of someone simply focused on her career. She is, to put it simply, in need of some pretty serious therapy. Ty, as well, has issues that go far beyond the anti-commitment phobia of most single males. Understandably, considering his horrific early years, Ty has carried his determination to remain uninvolved to an almost pathological degree. And, though I hate to be too cynical here, their HEA is just too easy.
But, again on the positive side, Shalvis has a pleasing style and the story moves along quite nicely. I do have to say, though, that in many ways everything here just seemed to be, well, young. I know I’m getting older, but if you’re much over thirty, you may have some trouble relating to this story and these characters.
Those who enjoy Shalvis and who read the first entry in this series will probably be pleased with the second. For my part, I commend the author on her ambition. I just hope that in the next book she’ll have a bit more time to do it justice.