Where You Least Expect It
The premise of Where You Least Expect It attracted my attention, but, unfortunately, it didn’t hold it for more than a few pages at a time and, even worse, when it did perk up, it only managed to annoy me. Any 248 page book that takes me a full three weeks to slog through isn’t something I can recommend with any enthusiasm.
Penelope Moon is a pretty 24 year old virgin who has never been out on a date (I kid you not). She lives with her dog Max and her grandmother Mavis on the outskirts of town and runs a new age bookstore. Everyone in town believes she’s weird and/or a witch because she prefers to wear loose, flowing clothing and has long, wavy hair (hmm, guess I’m weird too!) and because Mavis is a tad kooky. (She has a tendency to do impulsive things like run around town naked and cultivate marijuana.) Penelope – who’s never made any friends and apparently hasn’t tried to dispel the rumors swarming about her – spends her days running the store and acting all door-matty while local customers feel free to insult her as they buy her goods. She returns to her lonely home each night with only grandma and Max for company. It’s a sad state of affairs indeed until she gets friendly with hunky school teacher Aiden and starts to break out of her shell and want more (marriage, babies, a new house!) out of life.
Aiden Kendall, however, isn’t your average, everyday school teacher. He’s a man on the run, hiding a painful past that is quickly catching up with him. He’s attracted to Penelope but can’t risk starting a relationship with her and possibly putting her life at risk. But wouldn’t you know it? He soon does just that!
The characters are both nice enough people who deserve a quiet life filled with love, but the reason I found myself folding laundry instead of reading is that they’re sort of dull. Their courtship was sweet, but it was missing the spark and wit necessary to make the pages fly. Not helping matters any was the lack of sympathy I felt for Penelope who never considered striking out into the world on her own and chose to remain miserable until Aiden enters her world. In fact, it’s made pretty clear during a restaurant date that much of her so-called alienation is all in her head. Aiden, as the tortured hero, fares better but all of his internal “I should leave before getting her involved” bunk about wore me out, especially since he lingered around and started dating her despite his dangerous secret.
The pace does pick up towards the end and those who really enjoy romantic suspense may find it more exciting than I did. Instead of focusing on and exploring the feelings between the new couple, they are separated time and again “for her own good” as the story eventually goes into all-out heroine in grave peril mode. The only thing Penelope was missing was the white nightgown.
What else can I say about a book with a first half so bland that I feared it might never end and with an ending that requires you to swallow a great big helping of unreality in order to buy the prettily wrapped up happy-ever-after ending? Just that there are better, more original books than this one around and if your reading time is precious to you, I highly recommend turning to one of those instead of Where You Least Expect It