Catarina is a journalist for the online newspaper Columbus Community Chat, or The Chat for short. She writes a column where she is brutally honest when it comes to relationships. She is stunned when her boss tells her what her assignment for the summer will be. Over the course of six or so weeks, Catarina must “fake” date Barrett Fox an ex-NFL player/sportscaster with a reputation for trouble. They’ll “date” and then each will write their version of how the date went.
Barrett Fox, had been playing for the NFL until a shoulder injury ended his career on the field. He then did some sportcasting from the sidelines until he made some disparaging comments about a call to a female referee that was broadcast to the world and the network had no choice but to suspend him. His agent, in an effort to somehow rebrand him, signs him up to do what he thinks is a puff piece that is sure to shed a more positive focus back to Barrett.
Barrett and Catarina could not be more opposite. Catarina is pretty straight-laced and conservative. She has a boyfriend named Northrop (which says it all IMO). They’ve been dating for several months and Catarina likes their relationship because it fits in exactly with what she envisioned for herself–he’s handsome, cultured, has a great job, etc. Unfortunately, things are not very good in the bedroom lately. North has been working a lot and is always busy; he’s just not interested in getting busy with Catarina. But she doesn’t press the issue, thinking they’ve just hit a dry spell.
Barrett is a gorgeous, over-confident playboy and he is living life to the fullest. He’s looking at this temporary writing gig as a bump in the road, sure that he’ll regain favor and be invited back by the network in no time. He also thinks Catarina is hot in a nerdy librarian kind of way, so hanging out with her and pretending to date will be no hardship.
I enjoyed this story, for the most part It’s humorous and light with just a tiny bit of angst. Catarina and Barrett are like oil and water initially, and Catarina struggles because she’s so regimented and Barrett flies by the seat of his pants. Their dates are fun and it’s not long before Catarina is looking at Barrett in a non-platonic way–especially after she realizes her relationship with North is over. It’s the perfect opposites attract situation. But Lemmon throws a bit of a wrench into this story by giving us a character with dyslexia.
Barrett is dyslexic, but he doesn’t want anyone to know. He doesn’t want to become one of those cliched stories of athletes who made it big in spite of his learning disability. He doesn’t feel one has anything to do with the other. So he hides it. Writing his part of the articles feels like torture as Lemmon’s words describe him working for hours, often missing deadlines. He smiles and flirts and talks his way out of a reprimand each time. When Catarina asks if she can help, he refuses, determined to complete his portion on his own. As Barrett and Catarina get closer, and he feels more and more comfortable, he does tells Catarina. She encourages him to tell their boss, Mia, and he does eventually-getting her promise to keep it under wraps.
Barrett and Catarina together are fun and from the beginning their fake dates don’t feel fake at all–which was exactly how it was supposed to appear to their readers. They have chemistry and their clashing personalities make their scenes fun and full of humor. But the dyslexia part felt a bit like it wasn’t entirely thought out. I didn’t expect statistics or a lot of emotional upheaval or childhood memories of a boy that struggled; but as a plot device used to create conflict-especially in the way it was used-didn’t sit right with me.
Other than that, I did enjoy Barrett and Catarina’s story. The opposites attract theme works well in this quirky tale of the nerdy girl who gets the jock! While part of a series, it can be read alone.
Coming up: I am so excited for next Thursday. I will be sharing my thoughts on The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Inspired by her own experiences, Ms. Hoang delivers a spectacular debut novel.