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 book has TONS of glowing reviews on Goodreads, and was recommended by readers of smartbitchestrashybooks.com, but wow, I just don't get it. I struggled to finish.
The first thing that irked me was the weird, casual sexism in almost every layer of the story. In the very first chapter, we learn that the hero, Mason, has been invited back to his home town -- along with 4 other men -- as a potential investor in a shopping plaza the mayor hopes to build. And, we soon learn, these five men have yet more in common: in addition to being successful and rich, they've all dated the mayor (or, in Mason's case, had a well-known crush on her in high school). Yes, the mayor is a woman, but she's the worst stereotype of a flaky, dizzy, shallow ex-cheerleader who does none of the actual work associated with leading the town. (The actual work falls to the heroine of the story, Adrianne, a nice girl who prefers to stay out of the limelight.)
Then, when Mason gets back to town and walks into the bar (the only place to get a meal after 8 pm), he finds an auction in progress, in which the men bid on dances with women (the money is supposed to go to raise money for this shopping plaza). Then the next night, Mason gets invited to a poker game with the guys, at which the women have cooked, cleaned, organized, and actually serve drinks and snacks at the game, but are not welcome to play.
And throughout the entire book, there are several examples where male friends and associates of Adrianne's (other than Mason, who as her lover might have some excuse) make casual comments about her physical assets, her breasts and legs and curves, and the narrative gives no suggestion that this is unusual or inappropriate or squicky, which IMO, it totally was.
The second thing that bothered me is that the reader is constantly told that Mason is a genius who doesn't fit in with normal people and has always been a geek. In one of the early chapters, we're told that his IQ is 135. Um, what? I don't put a whole lot of stock in IQ anyway, but I happen to know my own IQ is slightly higher than 135, and I'd like to think I'm a fairly smart cookie, but I'm no genius. A quick internet search tells me that 140 is considered "high" IQ and 160 is "genius." Yes, I know this is a minor plot point, but it bugged me.
My third complaint is insta-love. Within forty-eight hours of knowing each other, after I think only three brief meetings, Adrianne and Mason were ready to declare their undying devotion to one another. Now, I'm enough of a romantic to accept the possibility of love at first sight, but if you're going to write a story about that, you have to make me believe it. The connection has to be intense, and based upon something more than physical attraction. It's not enough just to have the characters say that it's intense and goes beyond the physical. Also, and this is key, that rare and incredible bond has to be strong enough to resist the first conflict that comes up in the relationship.
Which brings me to my final complaint: the conflict in this story was manufactured, melodramatic, and could have easily been resolved through adult conversation. Here, when Mason's business partner shows up and tells Adrianne that his relationship with her is standing in the way of his big, important work saving Haiti, instead of saying, "Huh, let's talk to Mason about the problem and see what he wants to do about it, since he's a grown up and wicked smart and capable of making his own choices," Adrianne says, "Oh, okay. I'll break up with him in a humiliating public scene so that he'll be so upset he'll leave town and never talk to me again, and it'll hurt, 'cuz he's my One True Love, but it's what's best for Haiti, sooo...."
No. No no no no no. Just No.