The Man Plan
I generally like books by Tracy Anne Warren, which is why I requested this book to begin with. Unfortunately, this book hit quite a few of my “ick” triggers and I just could not get past them enough to enjoy the story.
Ivy Grayson has loved James Jordan since she was a little girl. Unfortunately, it was Ivy’s sister Madelyn who initially won his heart. The book opens with Madelyn calling off her wedding to James at the church. Fifteen-year-old Ivy is heartbroken for him, but takes the opportunity to tell James that she is in love with him. James gently lets her down and they go their separate ways. Fast forward five years and Ivy has dropped out of college to become an artist. She is moving to New York City and will be living with several college aged males in a sketchy part of town. Her parents are naturally concerned and call upon James to look out for Ivy in the big city.
James has maintained contact with Madelyn and Ivy’s parents despite the broken engagement between him and Ivy’s older sister. Growing up next door to the Graysons, he spent more time at their home than his less than hospitable house and has always had a fond place in his heart for Ivy. Having changed her diapers as a toddler and bounced her upon his knee, James felt as if Ivy were the little sister he never had. So when the Graysons call upon him to watch over their baby, he is all over it. As a very successful financier, he owns a building in Manhattan and offers Ivy one of the apartments in this highly secure building.
Ivy is thrilled with the offer of an apartment in James’ building. She has never stopped loving him and being in such close proximity will give her a chance to show him that she has now grown up and is old enough to be more than a sister figure. Unfortunately, James has a girlfriend and Ivy is going to have to contend with competition for his affections. So what is a girl to do? Seduce him of course.
While this is not exactly a May-December romance, sixteen years is a pretty large age gap when the heroine is only twenty years old. If Warren has made Ivy twenty-five instead of twenty, I might have bought into this relationship more, but there is a great deal of maturity that happens in those five years and in this book, we don’t even have the excuse that Ivy is mature for her age. She acts like she is twenty, or maybe even eighteen. This is ick factor number one. Then Ivy decides to seduce James. James protests and tries to stay away, but Ivy just keeps pressuring him. I felt like the trope of a man pressuring a woman for sex until she finally gives in was just turned on its head here. Sex should never be about pressure in my opinion and that brings us to ick number two.
Then we have the pseudo incestuous angle. There is something about forming a romantic relationship with someone who has changed your diaper that almost makes my flesh crawl. Ick number three. I also do not like cheating and technically James cheated on his girlfriend Parker with Ivy. Parker is portrayed as a high society princess, but I actually formed more sympathy for her than I did Ivy. Ivy was really a little bit of a brat and she never really grew up as a character over the course of the book. Other than her long legs and gorgeous body, I have no clue what James saw in her other than a familiar face. Warren delves a bit deeper into Ivy’s character than she does James’ character. I do not feel as if I know him well enough to truly get a sense of who he is and frankly, I do not care to. The book did not have that much of a plot and was meant to be character driven I guess. Unfortunately I did not like the characters. I also did not care for the tightly contained, wealthy older man vs. the talented ingénue trope. There was just too much in this novel that ran to clichés.
I will not give up on Tracy Anne Warren over this one stinker, but I will read the book description a little more thoroughly before giving her next book a try. This book did NOT do it for me.