Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: "The Guy Next Door" by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, Victoria Dahl

The Guy Next Door (Includes: Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor, #0.5; Donovan Brothers Brewery, #0.5)The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ugh, what a nightmare! This was one of the "strangest" anthologies I've ever read. The first story ends with a cliffhanger, the second has some of the most idiotic characters I've met, and the third makes no sense at all. :(

Ready, Set, Jett by Lori Foster (3 stars)
This story is a prequel to LF's new series, Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor. Jett Sutter and Natalie Alexander are "neighbors with benefits". Their no-strings affair should be the perfect setup for a man intent on maintaining his bachelor status, but for whatever reason, Jett feels uneasy about it. He doesn't want to marry Natalie, of course, but having her using him only for booty calls isn't enough anymore. He wants to see her outside the bedroom, even date her, but he knows someone has hurt her in the past and she's wary of getting emotionally involved with him. Will he be able to get past her barriers and, maybe, reach her heart?

I liked this story, but the cliffhanger wasn't necessary. In fact, all the events connected to it could have been left out of the story, as they added nothing to the development of Jett and Natalie's relationship and were only there to hook readers to the upcoming series. It had been a while since I last read a book by Ms. Foster and I had forgotten how much I enjoy her writing and how good her love scenes are. She made me care and root for Jett and Natalie's HEA, and the ending was satisfying enough. (In case you're wondering, Jett and Natalie do get their HEA; the cliffhanger has nothing to do with them.)

Gail's Gone Wild by Susan Donovan (1 star)
Gail Chapman's seventeen-year-old daughter Holly wants to go to Florida with her friend Hannah for spring break, but Gail knows better than to let the two girls take that trip alone. After some thinking, Gail concludes that she deserves a spring-break vacation more than them and decides to enjoy it at Key West, offering to take the dynamic duo (Holly & Hannah) with her. Gail is supposed to be the chaperone for the girls during their vacation, but after meeting Key West neighbor Jesse Batista - a sultry, sexy, earring-wearing sea captain with a big secret - she's the girl who's about to go wild.

Oh boy, what can I say? I thought the premise was absurd, the romance didn't engage me, and I disliked all the characters in this story:

1. Gail was an hypocrite: her concern about her daughter's safety and "virtue" simply disappeared after she met Jesse and she had no qualms doing everything she'd told her daughter not to do. Granted, she was thirty-six and her daughter was only seventeen, but she should have thought about the kind of example she was setting. Plus, her ditching her chaperoning duties and saying that she trusted her daughter didn't make sense, considering how she'd made a point of forbidding the two girls to spend spring break by themselves because they couldn't be trusted to be behave. Huh?!? I guess lust short-circuited her brain.

2. Jesse was a lecher and a liar. He was introduced to Holly & Hannah when they were fresh out of the swimming pool and wearing skimpy bikinis, and he couldn't help noticing Hannah's "hellacious curves and video-ho bikini". A thirty-eight-year-old man having that kind of thought about a seventeen-year-old girl is too disgusting for words so all I can say is, eew eew eeeew!!! Then, Jesse decided to hide his identity from Gail - he was a successful author with eight New York Times bestsellers under his belt - so he could be sure she wasn't after his money and fame. He went so far as to ask a friend who owned a bookstore to hide his books so Gail didn't find out who he was, disregarding the fact that Jesse's name was the only marketing hook his friend got to face the competition of the new chain store that was threatening to kill his business. With friends like Jesse, that poor bookstore owner didn't need enemies.

3. Holly & Hannah were stereotypical dumb teenagers, and I'm still wondering why did they deserve to have their own POV in the story. Nothing happened with/to them, so what was the point?

This was my first read by Ms. Donovan and it was very disappointing. Most of my friends like her writing so I'm willing to give her another try, but I'll wait until this story is out of my mind.

Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl (1 star)
This story is supposed to be a prequel to VD's new series, Donovan Brothers Brewery, but it's more like a teaser or a sneak peek because it has no ending. The story just stops and we're left with no resolution. WTF?!?

I don't know what to say about the plot(?), so I'll just copy/paste/edit some lines from Ms. Dahl's "Dear Reader" introduction:

The Donovan siblings run Donovan Brothers Brewery right in the heart of Boulder, Colorado. Tessa is the youngest of the family and the only sister, but she keeps her brothers wrapped around her little finger... while she keeps them in the dark about her extracurricular life. Jamie runs the front room at the brewery with ruthless charm and a devastating smile, though he can’t manage to get control of his love life. And then there’s the oldest brother, Eric...

Eric Donovan took charge of the family and the brewery at the age of twenty-three, and he doesn’t have a rebellious bone in his body. He’s the soul of responsibility... until the night he meets Beth Cantrell in a hotel hallway and decides there’s something to be said for an occasional walk on the wild side. Even the most straitlaced guy needs to loosen up once in a while, and Beth is a woman experienced in smalltown discretion.

That's it! Eric and Beth meet at a business convention, she somehow mistakes him for his brother Jamie and he doesn't set the record straight, they have wild-monkey sex and, after nothing was said and all was done, they part ways. The End.

Reading this story was a complete waste of my precious time. I'm sure everything that happened in it will be rehashed when the series is released, especially because Eric and Beth's book will be the last and readers will have forgotten this "prequel" by then. I could have ignored the lack of purpose in this story if Eric and Beth had been interesting characters, but alas, I didn't care for them. I never understood why she thought that being seen with him would ruin her reputation as an "erotic boutique" (aka sex shop) manager, and I thought his excuse for lying (by omission) about his identity was flimsy at best.

This was one of the most frustrating reads of my life and I'm sorry to say that, contrary to its goal, this story made me not want to read the series.

Note: I received this eARC from Harlequin via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.

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