Thursday, October 12, 2017

Melanie Jacobson - Twitterpated

Jessie Taylor is furious when her roommate secretly posts her picture on the dating website LDS Lookup -- furious, that is, until she spends all night instant messaging Ben Bratton, a man whose wit and warmth just might make Jessie forget the train wreck of her last romantic relationship. 
Their first date is a smashing success (literally), but Ben's overall awesomeness can't save Jessie from having to deal with Craig, her competitive coworker whose baiting behavior sets new standards for obnoxiousness. Determined to beat Craig at his own game, Jessie spends long office hours finishing projects and putting out fires, but while her performance wows her boss, it only makes Ben skittish -- after a failed engagement to an up-and-coming lawyer, he's not about to pair up with someone who's married to her job. 
Will Jessie figure out how to be true to herself and take her big chance at love before it's gone with a click of the mouse?

Comment: Now that I've read this book I can't understand exactly why I ever added it to my reading list. I just assume it was because it mentioned an online exchange of messages and I usually like epistolary novels, whether real letters or modern email exchanges. I didn't pay much attention to everything else so I can admit being slightly disappointed when the email exchanges were minimal and only at the beginning of the book and the main themes went towards relationships among the LSD community. I have nothing against it, I also like to read inspirational sometimes but it was not what the title, the cover and part of the blurb suggested.

In this novel, Jessie is a young working woman, she has quite the demanding hours, often self imposed, and she is still processing the end of a relationship and thinking about dating again. Jessie belongs to the LDS Church and religion is a good part of her life as well so her roommate signs her up to a Mormon dating site and a guy, Ben, eventually makes an impression and they meet one another.
However, her daily life has many occupied hours and it's not always easy to just life instead of planning things. When the relationship gets to a point where both are seeing how serious it can be, will Jessie be able to take a chance on it or will work still be more important?

Basically we have three themes to think about here: Jessie's overworking, Jessie's religious beliefs she shares with Ben and Jessie's need to put herself first.
This can be read as a LDS chick lit but I confess this was not what I imagined when adding this book... I was more in the wave of having a fun but relaxed story where the main characters would talk/communicate/exchange messages online or through phone messages. You know, an online chat plot sort of thing as it happened with other titles I've read before. But no, it wasn't this at all. Since I started, I continued but well, it wasn't as interesting for me once I realized it was not what I imagined.

My knowledge about the Mormon Faith and Church and how it divides itself to different "branches" is not a subject I feel I can truly talk about since what I know comes from movies and TV shows and Wikipedia. But from the actions and conversations mentioned in this a book about it, it feels people take their faith very seriously and that it is a huge part of their daily lives as well. It's always interesting to learn new things but by having Jessie and Ben as faces of the type of behavior one can expect from believers didn't really made me feel more interested than the basic. I just didn't warm up to them that much. 
Even Sandy, a secondary character that apparently represents a different approach on how to live within the belief, just felt very patterned and not someone I'd love to meet.

I guess this is where the fictional part can win or break a story with realistic contemporary elements. This is the first book by the author I try but although her writing doesn't feel bad, the characters are too superficially done and too bland. I guess the idea was to present a "clean" romance so that surely makes some aspects feel unused but the chemistry between Jessie and Ben was never there, for me. I'm not saying they should have had sex all the time but the way their interacted was always the same, the ideas exchanged, the expectations were all the same. The conflict between them was not dealt with in a believable manner, especially when they talked about so many things.
To be honest, in the beginning, Jessie mentions her ex, someone who fell in love with another woman but struggled with it until those feelings were stronger. I think I'd have preferred to read about this character instead!

Finishing this book was a relief. I don't think I felt truly engaged in it, the characters didn't make me want to spend time reading about them and the things that were supposed to be simple add-ons - the ex, the rivalry with the co-worker, the email exchanges - were the elements that I wanted to focus in the most. There's a subtle HEA, Jessie manages to realize some things in her life, this is all great but I don't feel sad about letting this (sometimes boring) story go.
Grade: 5/10

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