“I’ll see you later,” he said, low-voiced, with a wink for Jessica. Then he left, closing the door gently behind him.
– My One and Only (Locations 126-127)
From Amazon: Getting snowed in with a hot guy is not a bad way to spend the holidays…
Five Years Ago She Was Left at the Altar
Five years later…Jessica Monroe has moved on with her life in Harper’s Corner, and her fabulously successful bridal business. She has her friends, and her comfortable life in one of America’s most beautiful small towns. What more could a girl possibly want?
Matthew Larson is roguishly handsome and happily enlisted in the Army. He lives for two things: serving his country and Jessica Monroe. He’s loved her for years, long before she was engaged to his arrogant and self-absorbed brother Will.
When Will left her at the altar, Matt was there to comfort her, as much as an almost brother-in-law was allowed, before he deployed to Afghanistan.
They were almost family so Jessica kept in touch, but little did she know how hungrily Matt would read each email. She was his escape from the horrors of war and a reminder of a simpler life that awaited him back in Harper’s Corner.
When Matt finally returns Jessica is taken aback by a rush of emotions – suddenly faced with the reality that she nearly married the wrong brother.
This is a standard third person narrative, very much in a romance by numbers format. There is a lot a technical skill here but I was disappointed with the overall subject matter. This book was well edited, and care was taken in ensuring that there was continuity, and that all loose ends were tied up. However, the story was not inspiring or revolutionary, and the outcome was advertised for the reader right from the beginning, including in the blurb above. There was a bit of laziness of the part of the author with the reuse of action. That is to say that these characters wink at each other far too much. And not just Matt, the protagonists. Everyone is winking at everyone else. ALL. THE. TIME.
“When Matt finally returns Jessica is taken aback by a rush of emotions – suddenly faced with the reality that she nearly married the wrong brother.” (Blurb)
“Well then, I’d say you almost married the wrong brother,” Jules piped in, and Maggie’s mouth curved. (Locations 133-134)
“Getting snowed in with a hot guy is not a bad way to spend the holidays…” (Blurb)
“Clothes, off! But keep your bra and panties on if you insist,” he added with a small smile. “The rest is soaked through, and you’ll never warm up if you stay dressed. Hypothermia can kill, so let’s prevent it.” (Locations 566-567).
“And Matt! Well, what did Matt end up doing but cleaning up your messes and going off to help save the world? And you can’t stand that, can you? That no matter how many degrees you get, or how big your paycheck, you’ll always be a poor man’s Matt.” (Locations 1193-1194).
I must admit that I was very disappointed with sex scenes in this novella. They were tepid at best, and when compared to the rest of the narrative, felt rushed. I don’t think that sex in romance novels should be the be-all-and-end-all of the narrative but these scene seemed out of place. Almost as if they were an afterthought, or written by a different person. More descriptive text was put into Jessica’s outfits than was used to recount their finally requited passion for each other, when the time came.
My real issue with this novella is not the story, or how predictable it is, it’s with the author’s choices when dealing with difficult themes, issues and problems. There were moments where she could have really added depth and character to her protagonists, but she took the road more frequently traveled. I dislike the lip-service paid to the horrors of war and the fact that Ms George chose to skim over the fact that Matt is having a hard time dealing with some of his experiences (e.g. nightmares and reliving of events). Instead, the character seemingly ignores these signs and “chooses” to be happy. Not a good message when it comes to serious psychological distress, such as PTSD.
Further, I detest this genre’s need to emphasize that a woman’s purpose in life is to net a good man, get married and start a family. The level of “good” in the aforementioned partner is relative. Jessica was jilted, and this would definitely cause heartache and sadness, and many other emotions, that a person would have to work through. The character seems to works through all of these in the narrative but rather superficially. What annoyed me was the further perpetuated idea that a woman can only feel beautiful (in this case the word was “incredible”) because someone, usually a love interest, tells her she is and makes her believe it.
“You’re an incredible woman, Jessica Wade.” Her heart felt like it was going to burst out of her, singing. How long had it been since a man told her she was incredible? And how long had it been since she actually believed it? (Kindle Locations 986-988)
If her blooming career and stable life aren’t enough to make her feel incredible on her own, she likely shouldn’t be in a serious relationship. Can we please stop reinforcing that women need a man to make them feel whole or beautiful or special? Perhaps this is a jaded, cynical view to have but I see so many women around me who buy into this fantasy, and who measure potential partners on what they say and not on what they do and how they live their lives. Words are pretty but actions truly show you the soul of a person. In the wise words of RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
The one thing that I did appreciate about the story was that Matt and Jessica didn’t just meet, fall in love and decide to marry in the space of 7 days or less, which is what many romance authors seem to do. This is a slow burn love that has been unrequited for Matt, for many many years. Jessica just needed to catch up. There is the usual back and forth about not wanting to put his feelings out there because he doesn’t want to potentially ruin a great friendship. I have listed a few books below that give the reader a meatier story, not necessarily in length but in charaterisation and emotion.
This style and genre of romance will always have a place in the marketplace. So, if you like fluffy, HEA, basic romances, with a touch of sex, by all means buy this one. However, if you want a little more story, struggle and growth from the characters and a little more, realistic, introspection, have a look at the list below.
My rating: 2½/5
This review was requested by the author.
Buy My One and Only on Amazon.
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