You Don't Know Jack
You Don’t Know Jack is a fun mixture of Romance and Chick Lit and I had a great time while reading it. You will too.
Jamie Peters is a Kentucky native who lives in New York with three roommates and works as social worker in a halfway house for men and women who have just gotten out of prison and who need to work on social and professional skills so they will stay clean. Jamie loves her job – she is idealistic, but realistic too. One of her successes is Beckwith Tripp. This being New York, Beckwith doesn’t have a non-flamboyant job. He’s a cross-dressing former drug addict turned psychic. Hey, at least he’s working. One day, Beckwith offers to tell Jamie’s fortune which is….she is destined to meet her soul-mate that day. He will be tall with light brown hair and they will meet on something moving under circumstances that involve food.
Jonathan “Jack” Davidson is on the subway with a container of spaghetti for his grandfather. Retired at 29 after having made a fortune as a trader, Jack is currently at cross purposes. He is suspicious of love, having been pursued by fortune hunters, and he’s burned out on trading. He doesn’t want to retire, but he’s not sure just what he wants. Suddenly, a pretty curvaceous woman with a delightful southern accent bumps against him and spills the spaghetti sauce on his suit. But one look at her and Jack is lost. So is Jamie. They agree to meet for dinner, then they go to his apartment to talk and then finally they make love. (You may want to read this scene while sitting in a walk-in freezer). The next morning, dizzy with love, Jamie finds some pictures of Jack with her roommate Caroline Davidson. She puts two and two together and realizes that Jack is Caroline’s brother Jonathan, the filthy rich millionaire whose family foundation just turned down her agency’s request for a grant. Jamie is still in love with Jack, but hurt that he didn’t tell her the truth, so she leaves.
However, Jamie isn’t going to get rid of him that easily. Jack is a man smitten to his core. He will grovel, he will plead, he will give away all his money if only Jamie will come back. And since Caroline is getting married and both Jamie and Jack are in the wedding, they will be in each other’s company – like it or not.
First the pluses. I loved the characters – loved, loved, loved them all! Jamie and Jack are instantly likable with enough quirks to make them appealing but not so much that they become silly. Jack is a sweet and loving man with a kind heart. He’s also intelligent and handsome – practically perfect. Jamie is a good mixture of idealism and hard headed practicality. She loves her work, loves her family and friends, but she’s been unlucky in love. The minute she and Jack met each other, I was cheering them on. Two nicer people I have seldom met in a book. The secondary characters were a treat as well especially Beckworth, and Jamie’s salty tongued grandfather.
I mentioned the love scenes should be read while seated in a freezer. They were hot, really hot, but tender and funny and passionate too. Sometimes when I read a book with hot and lengthy love scenes, I get bored and skip them. Not in this case. The love scenes were so tied to the characters (have I mentioned how much I loved them?) that I savored every word. They are luscious love scenes indeed.
Now the minuses. The plot is a bit thin and there are some characters, most notably Jamie’s estranged father, who are not developed as well as they should be. There’s a very intriguing secondary character – a foul-mouthed brilliant hacker teenager whom I really wanted to see more of. But maybe we’ll see him in future books. I certainly hope so.
I’ve read a couple of Erin McCarthy’s books now and have enjoyed them very much. I’m not all that fond of straight Chick Lit, but McCarthy mixes Romance with a Chick Lit sensibility, populates it with some of the best characters I’ve come across in some time and then seasons it with snappy dialogue. It’s a mixture that works for me.