By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
This is a pretty good book with a truly dreadful cover and an even worse blurb. I took a chance on it anyway because I really loved the second book in this series, The Derby Girl, though I hated the first, The Rebound Girl. I bought The Party Girl figuring it was a crapshoot, and I ended up getting lucky. I didn't love this book, but I liked it quite a bit. (Each book stands alone: if you want to learn from my mistakes, you can totally skip the toxic heroine in The Rebound Girl and not miss anything important.)
Kendra is not the sort of heroine I usually connect with. She's an aesthetician at an upscale spa, and her obsession with beauty is anathema to me. (I'm a low maintenance girl. I've never had a manicure. Twice, people have given me gift certificates for a massage, and I let both coupons expire unused. I rarely wear makeup and I get my hair cut two or three times a year.) The only part of her character that I could relate to is Kendra's tendency to organize everything around her. She's the person who dots the i's and crosses the t's at the spa. She's the one her youngest sister comes to when a relationship goes sour. She's the girl her ex comes to when he's been stabbed in a bar fight. Kendra is calm, cool, and totally collected, in any situation.
Noah is a backwoodsman who dropped out of society after his ex-girlfriend cheated him--and a lot of other people--out of a lot of money. He quit his job and moved off the grid, in to a no-frills cabin where he milks his own goat, raises his own chickens, grows his own vegetables, hunts or fishes for his own meat, showers with solar-heated rainwater, and builds his own furniture. The only thing he and Kendra have in common is Lincoln, Kendra's ex who got stabbed in the bar fight. Well, Lincoln and a raging case of Hornypants for one another, that is.
I liked that Kendra and Noah were both strong willed characters who know their own minds and aren't willing to change to please a lover. I liked the honesty and humor of their conversations. I liked that the conflict between them was not one I'd encountered in romance novels before, especially in a contemporary setting, where authentic conflict can be hard to come by. I liked that even though Kendra makes no sense to me as a person--her values and priorities are so different from mine--I was able to like and root for her anyway.
This is a slow burn book by design, but even so, I thought the pacing could have been tighter. I didn't mind that it took Noah and Kendra a long time to get together, and I thought the buildup was fairly well done, but then there was a significant stretch in the middle where they were together but there was all this other stuff going on, and the plot seemed to drag a bit.
Mostly, I liked how different this book was from anything else I'd read. And in light of that, maybe it makes sense that the cover and blurb are so bad -- perhaps Carina Press is just trying too hard to find a marketing niche for a book that doesn't fall easily into any established category.