Thursday, November 25, 2021

Ashlee Mallory - Her Backup Boyfriend

Straight-laced lawyer Kate Matthews always plays by the rules. But when her ex gets engaged and a big promotion is on the line at work, she blurts out that she has a new boyfriend. And now that she's proved she “has a life” outside of work, everything is perfect. Except for one teeny little detail―there is no boyfriend. And now Kate's liable for her little white lie...
Dominic Sorensen is hot, charming, and very definitely not Kate's type. But not only does Dominic want to help Kate renovate her home, he's also willing to play “boyfriend.” All he wants in return is a little pro bono work for his sister. Now instead of Mr. Right, Kate has a delectable Mr. Fix-It-Right―and some unbelievable sexual chemistry. And if falling for Dominic is a breach of contract, Kate is guilty as charged...

Comment: I got interested in this book after seeing it recommended somewhere if one would want to read a story containing "x" but I really can't remember anymore which specific reason that was. I suppose now it must have been the fact the heroine felt she was alone in the world and the hero's family was supposed to be welcoming. I tend to enjoy these types of plots.

In this story we meet Kate Matthews, a young lawyer who is almost at the point of getting a partnership, something she feels will be the validation of all her hard work and determination, even though she didn't have a family and connections to back her up. However, the owners are a little traditional and feel she isn't mingling enough and after she blurts she has a boyfriend, of course they expect her to bring him to the company's winter retreat...
Dominic is her neighbors' nephew and he seems to understand about construction, which Kate has some need of, since her fixer up house isn't no where near ready. While talking, she also learns his sister needs legal advice after a divorce so they agree he will be her boyfriend while she will help his sister. The plan was for them to simply be partners in their mutual deceptions but apparently all this time together makes them see each other quite differently...

At first sight, this book has all the bones for a good story. There were several elements I liked in the book, especially the ones related to the heroine's stage in life and how that affects her goals, her thoughts... the story seems to have all the necessary details for it to work perfectly but, nevertheless, I still found the final effect to be a bit bland and I kind of wish some things had been done better.

Kate is a hardworking woman who feels she will prove her worth and ability by doing everything she can to be successful, as a way to prove to herself that despite not having close family, only grandmother, nor social connections that those in her circle of acquaintances at work have, she is still a good employee and an asset to the firm she works at. In fact, she is close to be promoted but the big case she has in hand proves to be a little more ethically challenging than she anticipated.

At the same time, she becomes friends with a man who has a loving and supportive family, very much opposed to her own experience and the contrast between their lives and the demands at work will be the big obstacles to solve in this book. I found all the elements to be interesting, but the execution was a little slow and the way the protagonists' personalities were developed not very exciting. Kate is  the type of character that embodies many of the things I like in heroines but something about her just made the story feel boring sometimes.

I can't exactly pinpoint what, but Id say the romance between her and Dominic was too bland. I'm not talking about the fact we don't see graphic sex scenes, it all fades to black, but they don't interact enough in a way I'd say is strong on the chemistry and sexual connection for the full impact of their feelings later on to be that big to the point of convincing me they are in love. I'm told that and we do see them sharing scenes and conversations but they just lack a powerful connection. I think the author could have written things differently, perhaps wording things differently in some moments.

The obstacles are eventually solved, Kate has her eureka moment when it comes to her self validation and we are aware they will be a happy couple, with Dominic's family a solid support. But these things are inferred, not really constructed because the focus was in other elements. I don't mind it but then, the romance should have been done in another way too, to make it more believable. It was very good they were respectful of one another but then everything between them felt robotic, too much of a plan and I think there's a lack of spontaneity and emotion in their moments together.

All details considered, this was an average story, slightly predictable, readable yes, but in my opinion could have been stronger at all levels.
Grade: 6/10

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