The Trouble with J.J.
I first read The Trouble with J.J. nearly ten years ago. This time around, I had an audio version for review. Although some of the cultural references are a bit dated, they don’t stop the reissue from being a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Genna Hastings has just returned from a lousy vacation when some neighborhood boys inform her that the most awesome quarterback in the world has moved in next door. Genna takes one look at what her new neighbor has done to the wonderful house next door, and decides he’s her worst nightmare. Pink pelicans are peeking out from the shrubs, the lawn has been mowed into stripes, and a buxom mannequin, garbed in shorts and a hot pink top, is sitting in a lawn chair.
J.J. Hennessy, the star quarterback of the fictional Hartford Hawks, has a reputation as a party animal and a player and Genna’s initial meeting with him reinforces that reputation. Although she’s not his usual type, J.J. is attracted to Genna. While Genna is attracted to J.J., she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. She hates football, and thinks he’s a complete jerk.
However, there’s more to J.J. than what is on the surface. Although he does have totally bizarre taste in decorating, he also has an adorable little daughter living with him, who he loves to distraction. Genna ends up as his “image consultant” in a convoluted plan J.J. dreams up to try to clean up his image so that his former sister-in-law doesn’t get custody of his daughter.
Genna and J.J. were a fun heroine and hero with some unique quirks. I loved how Genna kept baking – despite the fact that it was summer – the more anxious and nervous and attracted she felt to J.J. I spent a good deal of the book craving the fantastic baked goods she made. In spite of his reputation, J.J. turns out to be a true family man, with his values in the right place, and with some insecurities of his own.
I had a few minor niggles with the book. Some of the prose during the love scenes struck me as a bit purplish, with dueling tongues, passion’s dance, and a silken pocket. The way J.J.’s hair is described at the beginning of the book sounds vaguely like a mullet. I tend to skim over many details when I’m reading, but that’s not possible when listening to an audio book. While some of the cultural references are dated, there weren’t enough to distract from my enjoyment of the book.
Minor problems aside, I didn’t doubt for a moment that J.J. and Genna were truly in love. This isn’t a serious, issue-driven category romance; it’s just a fun, contemporary romance, with a lot of humor. I found it to be a great summer read. It also reminded me how much I loved some of the old Loveswept romances, and how saddened I was when they stopped publishing.