Thursday, May 3, 2018

Stephanie Doyle - For the First Time

There's not a lot former CIA agent Mark Sharpe hasn't done. Yet suddenly he's in a world of firsts--first time being a father, first time being self-employed...and first time being attracted to his employee. JoJo Hatcher, with her attitude, her tattoos and her investigative talents, tempts him in ways he can't explain. With each day she becomes more irresistible. How is he supposed to function in this messed-up situation?
Then his teenage daughter, Sophie, is threatened. There's only one person he trusts to help him: JoJo. As they work to untangle the mystery, Mark imagines a future together that includes another first--family.

Comment: For many years, before I went to the university and started having a bit of my own money thanks to the help of scholarships and before I was able to buy some leisure books of my preference here and there, I would only read library books. 
I also started, after one memorable day in the supermarket (before Harlequin/Silhouette books stopped being sold in those places) to read those little romances and managed to get quite a certain amount of them even if not always I'd be very impressed by those stories. 
I still keep some favorites but when I started to read more in english, I realized the Portuguese editions of the same stories were substantially reduced and some characters' names were switched and other annoying details. I stopped buying them - they were also getting more expensive - because I could more easily get them in the source. However, that didn't last for long because then I "discovered" PNR and my tastes changed rapidly.
However, I still remember not being very fond of these sort of stories anymore, as if my experience made me sort of immune to their appeal. I still read one here and there but it's not something I actively out look for.

In this book, which got my attention somewhere I can't no longer remember, I was mostly interested in the relationship, featuring a non experienced woman with a single dad. 
Jojo Hatcher is a young woman, approaching her 30s, who is a private investigator. She is a talented professional but has some issues with authority so she prefers to work in a more "casual" work environment. Jojo also still suffers a lot due to the death of her twin sister when they were teenagers and how her father wasn't able to cope with this.
Mark Sharpe is a professional who has worked for the CIA. He let go of his demanding job to become an investigator, founding his own company, in order to be near his teenager daughter Sophie, who is a fantastic piano player. Their relationship isn't that good and there are some threats to Sophie so he only hires Jojo after a job interview because of her trendy look (short spiky hair, tattoos and piercings) so she could bond easily with Sophie and could act as her body guard. What he didn't count on was the attraction for Jojo.

Apart from some details, this story is pretty much what one would expect from a category plot: many situations that try to show us how the main couple must seek happiness together, even if nothing in their actions seems to be reason for that.
I found it too obvious how the author kept making the characters say/think they shouldn't be noticing how the other was attractive just to give us the sense we should expect so. The development of the main characters' relationship is probably the element that interested me the most but it wasn't as well done as I imagined.

Jojo and Mark don't seem to have that much in common nor any real attraction but they spend time together and that seems to be enough to turn them into a couple. 
The biggest conflict here was how both were a bit scarred of their past experiences, especially Jojo. She is a virgin, she has some logical reasons to be so but while I hoped one of two scenarios (or Jojo would slowly fall in love, so her need to be close to Mark would justify some psychological change of heart, or she would be adamant to stick to her convictions and would only give in after they established a love relationship) but neither happened and Jojo suddenly felt she needed to heal and move on from her pain so she had sex with Mark.
I could go on and on about how silly this feels to me, how annoyingly portrayed this scenario feels like but suffice to say I thought this aspect of the story was done bad.

I also found the plot to be very unlikely and not that interesting all the time. Some elements were well thought, I confess, but for such a short amount of pages, I think this over planned and too many situations are here for us to focus on (the Jojo situation, her past, Mark's negligence of his daughter in hr younger years, the current threats, secondary characters that are too obviously inserted...), which means that, for me, the opposite happened.
This is also referenced as being part of a series but I felt I didn't lose much by not having read the others, expect in one or two mentions in dialogues but that was fine.

All in all, this wasn't a bad story on its own but the ensemble of details didn't result in a well pieced story for me. Now, I cannot say if it's just the story itself, if it's a mix of it along with my already low expectations but I finished this story thinking this was not the best one to attempt to get my love for category back again. Unless something really special is recommended to me, I think I'll stick to other things or if I do read another it must be something out of the more distant parts of my TBR...
Grade: 5/10

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