Security consultant Mick Hollister is used to women looking at his ugly mug – but not with the genuine pleasure he sees in the face of the girl with the charcoal-smudged fingers and terrible skills at covert surveillance. A security breach brings the two into fast and furious collision, and an unlikely friendship begins to blossom. And an even more unlikely – and very reluctant – love.
Introvert Sophy is content with her independence and solitude. She’s never looked for a long-term relationship, and isn’t sure she wants one now. Mick, apparently born with a face that not even a mother could love, has given up all hope of having one.
They have nothing in common. They shouldn’t even like each other. And they can’t stay away from one another.
Comment: I had this book to read since 2017. I added it to my TBR because it would feature a shy heroine and a hero that wasn't considered handsome by most people. I was really curious how such a pairing would work and, besides that, I got aware this was the same author who wrote some of the best contemporary books I've read in the past years, Lucy Parker. Since I liked all the books under the Parker's name, I was hoping this would be a winner as well, but I must say this wasn't as great to me.
In this story we meet shy artist Sophy James, a young woman who isn't the best in talking to strangers but she certainly has an eye for detail, and while visiting a art exhibit she can't help but being captivated by the face of one of the security men. He is Mick Hollister, someone used to be judged by his looks and not having a handsome face makes others think him less than good, including his own family. The day he and Sophy meet, there's a bombing at the gallery and Mick protects Sophy, which she, in turn, reciprocates by sharing something she saw, and that allows authorities to find the culprits of the attack. As the days go by after the bombing, these two find ways to be together and slowly start to share things bout themselves. Will it be possible they can be each other's HEA?
I liked reading this book and I confess part of the charm was to try to pick similarities with the author's other work, which I've been a fan of lately. However, let me start right now by saying that, in my personal case, were I to not know they were the same, I would not immediately make the connection. I found this book to be choppy in the scenes' sequences, the characters rather dull and the writing itself a little less captivating than what I envisioned. In sum, I think ti shows the author wasn't as confident in her skill while writing this or, perhaps, her vision wasn't as well executed then.
The plot is quite simple. The main characters meet under extraordinary circumstances, they feel attracted to one another but don't want to let the other see while they keep on dealing with the effects of how they see themselves in society's eyes. Mick deals with a cold, unsympathetic family and the prejudice because of his body type and lack of looks (his perception) and Sophy is an introvert who struggles to let her thoughts and wishes be known except in her art. I think the emotional construction of these characters isn't in question, for they both can be seen as having layers to peel as the story develops, but the way that happens wasn't really one to remember (to me, at least).
I said the moving from scene to scene was choppy. At times, it did feel as if some things didn't move as smoothly as they could, and because of that, the supposed emotions linked to some situations the characters faced ended up flat. For me, this also meant that the transitions gave the plot a very slow pace. Now, this doesn't have to be a bad thing, but with so many details to include and (some) lack of development in making things look smooth, I'm afraid that parts of the story were rather boring.
I don't mean to be unfair and the story was cute, but yes, it was a little boring as well and since both main characters don't interact much socially or in that many situations with lots of other people, there's no way for their relationship to develop in any other but between themselves. I don't really mind this but the execution wasn't as great as it could, so I felt Mick and Sophy weren't that vibrant anyway. I just think that, considering the descriptions of their personal issues, there could be a bit more angst involved or even a bit more complexity in the way they interacted with others... again, a good idea but the execution didn't convince me.
Sophy is an introvert and she is shy so I could relate to some of her thoughts when it came to take her chance on letting Mick know she was interested. Mick had people surrounding him always letting him be aware they didn't like how he looks like. We have a couple that, although not anti-social, doesn't have the biggest interest in dealing with others. I found this made them a little too isolated from secondary situations - and there were many happening - so when a confrontation here and there happens, I can understand their reluctance to let their voice be heard but this means the story fails to carry a continuous need to reach a goal. It ends up being boring...
Perhaps I'm being unfair, it's true, this story didn't seduce me as much as I wanted. I don't see myself thinking on it for a re-read even if it isn't as bad as others. It just didn't feel as if this could have been the author's best effort - something proved in her other books - but everyone needs to start somewhere and apparently this was her first work...