Desperate, he interviews to become a live-in manny aboard widowed Sullivan Bell’s yacht, the Aquarian.
The job? Not to look after thirteen-year-old Joanna. No, this child-mastermind needs Reid to befriend her dad, urge him to participate more in family life, encourage him to date, oh, and become his closest confidant and help him unleash his bottled emotions.
At least he’s not entirely out of his depth.
Okay, so he may have a slight aversion to the ocean. And possibly attract more than his fair share of misadventure.
But he is a pro at crying.
Watch out, Sullivan. Reid is on his way with a family-sized carton of tissues. He will help Sullivan through his fears. Will help him find love again.
Will absolutely not fall for him in the process . . .
Comment: This is the 5th installment in the Signs of Love series by author Anyta Sunday. As I did with the previous books, I also liked this one but, all things considered, this one wasn't as addictive to read as I expected.
In this story we meet Reid, a man who has had plenty of rejection in his life but he hides his hurt under a lot of quirkiness and smiles.
His girlfriend dumped him, his best friends are going on a journey around the world which means he is about to become homeless so he replies to a manny announcement. The "child" he is supposed to take care of is actually 13 year old Joanna, is a clever mastermind and lives with her father in a boat.
The problem is that Joanna doesn't need a manny, she has accepted that fact in order to actually find someone to befriend her father Sullivan who, since becoming a widow, hasn't had a lot of fun.
Through misunderstandings, crossroads and presumptions, will Reid and Sullivan really be a good match?
This story has enough elements to make it a successful one. It also follows all the rules one might expect after having read the previous books:
- Somewhat oblivious/clueless main character ✓
- Mysterious/serious second protagonist ✓
- Weird dialogue filled with innuendo ✓
- Missed opportunities to clarify the situation the characters see themselves in ✓
- Obvious connection between the protagonists only they don't see ✓
- Supposedly funny situations ✓
- A sweet slow burn romance with a romantic HEA ✓
Having all these things should be enough ingredients to create a wonderful plot and they do work.
I think, since we are sent on a specific path with these characters, they have to work out, there's no deviation from that. Sullivan and Reid complement each other, not only because they clearly have opposed personalities but mainly because we see through their scenes together and their sharing of personal stuff, they found their match.
I think, for me - and after reading all the other similar types of plot, the problem here was that everything was very predictable and often some scenes seemed quite forced. They didn't feel as spontaneous nor as realistic as in the other books. It felt as if we had to be convinced they were put in the right spot at the right time but in fact those two didn't seem to be that way naturally.
Since Reid is the narrator here, I couldn't help but compare him with all the other quirky/funny narrators in the series. All share a certain vulnerability that makes them be eager for roots, for a connection, for a relationship that feels right. The thing is, for me, Reid seemed a little too needy and way more dependent on someone else's approval to be happy. I can understand why, he does explain it through the novel, but... then, it made me think his actions and reactions were a little too much, too dramatic, too extreme. I didn't see him as a "twink" but getting there and I think often his behavior was rather childish.
Unlike the protagonists of the previous books, I couldn't really match properly the two sides of him: the baffled guy who couldn't understand why life was causing him trouble with the responsible adult he is also supposed to be.
The interactions between characters make sense within this rather crazy plot. All the talk about the boats and such were a novelty but it wasn't always easy to imagine it.
Joanna is a cute character, she behaves a lot more maturely than a 13 year old should but I could put that aside.
The other secondary characters weren't really memorable for me.
The romance follows the pattern of all the others, they keep the innuendo strong, Reid is unaware of how hos words can be interpreted and I cannot imagine a relationship like this being that common. It's one thing to be naive or to not really believe you could entice someone else like that, especially if you don't have such a high self esteem or impression of yourself. But to talk to someone like that and not realize it? I found the relationship between Sullivan and Reid to be a little unlikely.
At the same time, of course I was happy for them and glad they found each other.
Like I said, this book is good to read, particularly if one already enjoys these type of funny plots. However, in terms of overall impressions, I think this one didn't quite reach the mark as the others did. I'll keep reading the author's books, though, so this grading doesn't mean I dislike what she wrote, only that in this book the mark wasn't quite there.