Series: O'Brien Family #5
|*Disclosure Note: This ARC was received with rating conditions. In the interest of transparency as outlined by FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this ARC under the following conditions: “If you cannot rate 3 or above, please refrain from posting your review until after the tour. “ To maintain the integrity of the review system, this blog does NOT withhold reviews. The rating given will be my honest opinion. None the less, beware that you may not be seeing the full selection of reviews from the ARCs distributed till after May 11th!|
I should also note that this ARC came with the following strange request: “Do not quote for publication until verifying information with the finished sale-version book.” That’s listed twice.
If a book isn’t ready for reviewers’ eyes, then it shouldn’t be sent out. Sure as ARC reviewers we realize that there’s likely to be a grammatical mistake here and there and some additional formatting to come, but the gist of the text should be pretty final. Reviewers often juggle busy schedules, reviewing one book after the next. We don’t have time to read both the ARC and the finished sale-version or compare the two. It’s also not our job. We’re here to review the content we’re given and this is what I received…
So Seamus O’Brien, 37, is the last of his sibling to find a significant other, and then he’s pressured into bringing a respectable date to the wedding festivities. Real estate agent Allie Mendes, 35, is also knee-deep in wedding woes—not her own but that of her sister to her ex.
This story affirmed why I hate big weddings and overbearing families. So quite possibly that’s also why I found it more annoying than entertaining. In fact, I’m pretty sure the most entertainment I found here was when I entertained fantasies of throttling Mrs. Mendes. Allie mentions biting and yeah, there’s a thought too. But in all seriousness and at the very least, I’d have blocked both my mother and my sister from any form of communication possible and ejected them from my life. Favoring one child over the other is bad enough, but expecting the daughter whose long term boyfriend cheated on her with her sister to not only be her sister’s best friend and bridesmaid but to repeatedly call her up and rub it in your face, well that’s not just bad parenting; it’s emotional abuse.
As for the romantic angle, Seamus is cocky, conceited, and… the heroine even uses the word Neanderthal. His first meeting with the Allie is a total turn-off. Let me break out my Jeff Foxworthy voice here and explain…If a woman approaches you saying, “‘You don’t remember me, do you?’” and your response is to lie that she was a great conquest and treat her like a ONS who you forgot to call, you might be a MANWHORE!
For the record, Allie’s not a former ONS. She’s been his real estate agent on more than one occasion, goes to church with him, and knows his family; yet, he still can’t place her. And how does he finally remember her?
“‘You’re Valentina Mendes’s little sister. She’s smokin’ and damn, what a body! Hey, she still single?’”
That right there, I’d be out. But it turns out Allie has no backbone so they keep talking. And then to my surprise Seamus actually says something smart in regards to her being the bridesmaid in her sister and ex’s wedding. “
‘Why would you do that to yourself?’”
Anyways, the opportunity presents to fake date for the sake of their families and since this premise has been around the block a few times, no need for details there. What follows is Allie and Seamus getting to know each other. It’s fairly low-angst and would be a romantic build-up I might enjoy if the characterization didn’t get in the way. I just couldn’t fall in love with Seamus and Allie together because I didn’t really like them individually.
Allie is one of those prototypes that crops up way too frequently in the modern romance world. She lacks confidence, can’t emit sex appeal, and has been shackled with a limited history of men who suck in bed. Thus, she’s insecure and gets walked all over. Seamus is the gruff, loud, former manwhore type that’s become a dime a dozen. I definitely didn’t feel any chemistry between them. Ironically though the more the story went on, the more I at least appreciated Seamus’s attempts to read the sister/ex situation for what it was and to urge Allie to stand up for herself. But Allie was such a doormat, and as the story wore on, the more pathetic I found her.
Lastly, I can’t let this story off the hook without a mention of the sexist remarks made about women as well as the poor presentation of many of them. Females are referred to as “sluts” and “skanks.” Yep those are direct quotes. Even the 35 year old heroine is belittled by a client who calls her “little girl.”
Seamus’s younger brother (the hero from book two) exalts his future wife’s “good childbearing hips,” affirming he has faith she can pop out 7 kids. I don’t know where to begin with that one. Should I start with the lofty notion that women deserve to be valued for more than their potential to reproduce or the fact that hip size and fertility are not directly correlated?
In regard to his own sister, Seamus narrates that "‘…none of us ever thought Wren would meet a man strong enough to tame her.’” Tame her? She’s a woman, not an animal. Then there’s the collection of random women (the neighbor, the baker, etc.) who all want to throw themselves at Seamus while dissing Allie. After a while I began to wonder if the request to withhold direct quotes was to keep the sexist sentiment, espoused by many of the characters, under wraps. I can only hope that this ARC is going through another round of edits and those edits include removing the slut shaming terms and outdated modes of thinking.
Told via Allie and Seamus’s alternating first person POV, this is a friends-to-lovers romance but the lovers part comes very, very, very late in the game and thus the steam level is extremely low.