Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Life in Icicle Falls, #4
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: March 26, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
What do women want?
Jonathan Templar and his poker buddies can’t figure it out. Take Jonathan, for instance. He’s been in love with Lissa Castle since they were kids but, geek that he is, she’s never seen him as her Mr. Perfect. He has one last shot—their high school reunion. Kyle Long is equally discouraged. The pretty receptionist at his office keeps passing him over for other guys who may be taller but are definitely not superior. And Adam Edwards might be the most successful of Jonathan’s friends, but he isn’t having any success on the home front. His wife’s kicked him out.
When Jonathan stumbles on a romance novel at the Icicle Falls library sale, he knows he’s found the love expert he’s been seeking—Vanessa Valentine, top-selling romance author. At first his buddies laugh at him for reading romance novels, but soon they, too, realize that these stories are the world’s best textbooks on love. Poker night becomes book club night and when all is read and done, they’re going to be the kind of men women want!
Any trip to Icicle Falls is a treat. It reads like an almost perfect small town, one of those places where everyone knows your business, and wants the best for you.
But like most places, under the surface, things aren’t always what they seem. Not all the marriages are perfect, and not everyone’s experience in high school was happy. Certainly everybody hasn’t figured life out by the time of their 15th high school reunion!
Reading about Jonathan Templar and his Friday-night poker buddies turning to romance novels to figure out what women really want definitely turned out to have its share of hilarious moments…but it also ended in some lessons learned for the men involved.
They did figure it out, even if their source of advice turned out to not exactly be the person they thought she was!
Five guys play poker: the town nerd, the successful businessman, and the cubicle dweller, along with one happily married man and one divorced middle-aged cynic. The happily married man knows that the secret is to treat his wife like she’s the most important person in his world, because she is.
Jonathan, Kyle and Adam need to learn that lesson, for various reasons of their own. It’s Jonathan, the computer guru of the group, who overhears women at the library book sale telling each other that if only men read romance novels they might have a chance at getting a woman and keeping her satisfied.
Jonathan is desperate enough to try, even if he is so embarrassed that he keeps it a secret. Along with his not-so-secret life-long crush on Lissa Castle. But Lissa (of course!) only ever saw him as a friend. Jonathan hopes that, armed with the advice from the books and a complete makeover, he’ll be able to sweep Lissa off her feet at their 15th high school reunion at the end of the summer.
His friends Kyle and Adam are equally desperate for reasons of their own. So they all dive headlong into the world of romance novels, hoping that they will be able to find their own happy ever afters with the women of their dreams.
Even if they have to get hit by a clue-by-four to get their dreams on the right track!
Escape Rating B: There are three love stories packed into this one book, but they are woven together by the constant of the Friday night poker get-together. It was neat to have a romance told pretty much from the point of view of the guys in the story. And it worked!
Adam needs a wake-up call, and he takes a long time to get one. He doesn’t want to grow up and realize he’s been selfish. Kyle’s problem is that he’s been lusting after a bimbo instead of paying attention to a woman who is pretty and terrific and good for him. He’s another boy who needs to man up.
Jonathan is the anchor, because he’s the one who most wants to change. His is kind of an “ugly duckling” story, although he isn’t really ugly–but he thinks of himself that way. He’s just geeky, but very successful at it. His problem is that life-time crush on the former girl-next-door. He needs to get her or get over her, so he decides to get her. And he uses the romance novels as a textbook for what women want. It’s really kind of sweet. He even gets to be a hero.
But because the story is told from Jonathan’s point of view, we really don’t get to see why he loves Lissa. We know that he does, but we don’t know what makes Lissa so special. Jonathan is a terrific guy, and a lot of women would be happy to find someone like him. He goes to a tremendous amount of effort to make himself over for someone who has never noticed him. I wish we had a chance to get to know her better.
I loved the scenes where the poker buddies meet the romance writer who was their inspiration. Those scenes were fantastic!