Reviewed by Helyce
Favorite quote: “My sexual dry spell has been going on so long it’s less of a drought and more of a biblical pestilence.”
I simply loved this book. In my opinion, Joellen is an awesome representation of so many women. I could relate to her and remember suffering from similar self-confidence issues in my younger years. Joellen has worked at the same company for ten years. She’s good at her job and because she keeps her head down and just does her work, she tends to be both overlooked and taken advantage of. I wouldn’t categorize her as shy, but she definitely has a hard time saying “no” or speaking her mind in the workplace. She also has a major crush on her very attractive, very married boss and she knows no good can come of it, but she adores him from afar nonetheless. Outside of work, she lives a very quiet life, content to be at home with her cat and not really venturing outside of her comfort zone.
But all that monotony in her life changes when she meets her new, very loud, very obnoxious, but oh so very yummy and always nearly naked neighbor, Cameron. Joellen notices immediately that Cameron is absolutely gorgeous, but he makes a horrible first impression and continues to piss her off with his loud music and partying. Seems her neighbor swapped apartments with his cousin for a month so Cameron could get out of Scotland and ‘lay low’ for a bit.
Cam is everything Joellen isn’t and not just because he’s a rugby player. He oozes self-confidence and while he gives off the impression that he is man-whore player, that changes almost immediately after he meets Joellen.
I love how this story expands on the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and the “ugly duckling becomes a swan” when it comes to both our protagonists–because when all is said and done, you would be very, very wrong if you only looked at the outside. Yes, Joellen has issues with self-confidence and body image and after years of considering herself the ugly duckling in her family of beautiful people-her mom and sister both models-you can easily imagine why. My impression of Joellen is that she wasn’t as overweight as she thought she was, but she had it in her head that if she wasn’t as thin as her sister or the women in her office then she must be overweight. I imagined her a bit frumpy as well, wearing the wrong sized clothing to cover up rather than accentuate her curves. She seemed to be of the “why bother” vibe but then you’d see moments where someone would compliment her and she’d think just a little differently for a second and then it’d be gone.
Cameron also is not just what you see based on the outside. Yes, he’s gorgeous, muscled, athletic perfection and has led quite a fantastic life as a rugby star, that is, until recently when an accusation against him caused such an uproar that he escapes to the states until things blow over. He has Joellen’s number immediately and with a little help from their nosey neighbor Mrs. Dwindle his suspicions are confirmed.
Though Joellen and Cameron start out rocky, they quickly come to an arrangement that expands and builds as Cameron becomes a confidant of sorts for Joellen. When she confesses all about her crush on her boss, Cameron takes the opportunity to encourage Joellen to join him in his morning workouts. Cameron is clear and firm with Joellen about her issues, but it’s done with kindness. In his coaching role, he becomes an advisor to help Joellen woo her boss. He soon realizes his error, however, when he begins to have feeling for her himself.
I think this story does an excellent job of mixing realistic female situations within a romance setting. Joellen is every woman. While the word “fat” is sprinkled throughout the story it is not used in any sort of derogatory manner and is used mostly by Joellen when she’s in her head. Cameron is fantastic for Joellen’s self confidence and he helps her to see herself through his eyes. I loved watching Joellen blossom and change her way of thinking.
There is a lot of focus on Joellen and Cameron of course, but secondary characters like Mrs. Dwindle, Joellen’s eccentric elderly neighbor, bring so much humor to the story. So much is going on in the background with Joellen’s boss and her bitchy co-worker Portia and it all concludes in a hugely satisfying way.
On a personal note, kudos to Ms. Geissinger for writing a heroine like Joellen who I think so many women can relate to, and not just the ones who are or feel overweight and struggle with body image and confidence issues. I know it’s been done before, but for some reason this particular story resonated with me on a personal level. I think it was the combination of Joellen’s work issues that brought it all very close to home for me and made me want a Cameron of my very own.
This was my first book by this author and upon finishing I immediately purchased and read book #1, Burn for You which I loved as well. Geissinger has an extensive backlist and I look forward to exploring it!