Not Quite Dating

Catherine Bybee
November 2012, Contemporary Romance
Montlake, $7.77, 258 pages, Amazon ASIN 1612187145
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Maybe it is because of my preferences, but every time I visited Amazon this book would be on the opening page. Finally I couldn’t resist it anymore. While the book is pure fantasy, it’s a fun read, leaving me with no regrets that I gave into temptation.

Jessica “Jessie” Mann has been taught almost from the cradle that it is just as easy to love a rich man as a poor one. She never followed that advice, but now after five years as a single mother raising her son alone, she sees the wisdom of this platitude.

Working the night shift at Denny’s is not going to make her rich, but the job provides her with the flexibility she needs to take care of her son and help her younger sister Monica through nursing school. It allows her to spend time with her son Danny during the day, while her sister attends school, and then her sister watches him at night. Her mother Renee is still living but both Monica and Jessie tend to shun spending much time with her, preferring to avoid the drama of her roller coaster love life and revolving door of men.

Jessie never dreamed she would make the same mistakes her mother did, but her past history proves she has no luck with men. Danny’s father up and left as soon as he graduated from high school, and the next guy she was serious about stole her rent money. She is not going to do to her son what her mother did to Monica and her. She is looking for a steady guy.

Being the son of a very wealthy man and rich in his own right, Jack Morrison has always recognized that fawning parasites are drawn to him like vultures, hoping to break into his inner circle. But he knows that Mike, Dean and Tom, his best friends from high school will always have his back, no matter what. He hadn’t looked for that type of trust in a dating relationship because he hadn’t felt the desire to be serious about anyone. But after a bitter ex-girlfriend angrily tells him that all women are just interested in him because of his money and that he going to wake up one day and realize that the person he married is more interested in his trust fund than him, he realizes that he is tired of the avaricious women that come on to him. Maybe it is because Dean is getting married, but he ready to meet someone genuine and authentic instead of the fake women he has been dating. After quite a Vegas send-off for Dean, they pull into Denny’s at two in the morning, looking worse for the wear, smelling of booze and wearing days-old beards.

Jack is immediately attracted to Jessie, but it is her action of making up the difference in an elderly patron’s check that really claims his attention. He’s soon laying on the charm, but Jessie is having none of it and even tells him “so unless you have a checkbook as big as your ego - and my guess is, since your friends spotted you for your meal and gas, you’re probably broke - I’m not interested.” While Jack is taken aback, he has never taken no for an answer, and he doesn’t plan to start now.

Overall this is an appealing, light read. Jack and Jessie are very engaging as are the secondary characters. There is a sequel about Jack’s sister Katie coming in spring of 2013 and I enjoyed this book enough that I plan on reading it.

Two issues brought the grade down a little. Even though the author’s writing has its own charm, I found the story just a tad too predictable. Plus there is no ambiguity or question about the repercussion of Jack’s deception in pretending to be poorer than he is. And in the last third of the book I found Jack’s misstep and Jessie’s reaction not quite believable.

Still, this is a book well worth reading if you are looking for something cute.

-- Leigh Davis

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