Have Me, by Jo Leigh

>> Monday, July 09, 2012

TITLE: Have Me
AUTHOR: Jo Leigh

COPYRIGHT: 2012
PAGES: 224
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Blaze

SETTING: Contemporary New York
TYPE: Category romance
SERIES: 2nd in the It's Trading Men trilogy, follows Choose Me.

Trading Card:
Jake Donnelly
Occupation: Really, really sexy cop
Marry, Date or One-Night Stand: One night -and totally worth it!
His secret passion: For him to know, and you to find out
Warning: Zero commitment. This is a onenighter-and don't forget it!
Bottom Line: Hot and fun. You'll be very, very satisfied

Part socialite, part high-powered executive, Rebecca Thorpe isn't looking for Mr. Right. What she does want is Mr. Right-Here-Right-Now. So when she spots the trading card featuring police officer Jake Donnelly, she knows she's found the perfect guy?.Jake is hot, sexy as heck and completely different. More important, he's not looking for anything serious. But when a little sizzle turns scorching hot, Rebecca wonders if a tiny taste of this tempting cop will be enough. If she plays her cards right, maybe she can have more?and have him!
I didn't much like the first book in this series, Choose Me, but I've enjoyed Jo Leigh's Blazes so much in the past that I thought I'd give this second one a try. After all, it sounded like it wasn't as celebrity star-struck as the first one. Unfortunately, it was still not great, although in a different way.

Have Me shares with Choose Me its preposterous premise: a group of women create trading cards with men with whom things didn't work out, but whom they liked enough that they want to "pass them on" to their friends. The cards tell the recipient whether the guy is looking for long-term or not, as well as some key things about their character.

Rebecca Thorpe is the last book's hero's favourite cousin. Both have moved away from their wealthy family's super proper, socialite lifestyle, but while Charlie chose to do so by doing something his family finds unacceptable, Rebecca was less radical. She's running the family's charitable foundation, moving it, as she puts it, from a tax dodge to an organisation that really does some good. This keeps her very busy, so she's decided she can't do long term. When she sees Jake Donnelly's trading card (well, mostly his photograph on the trading card!), and that he's also down as ideal for a one-night-stand, she jumps on the opportunity.

Jake's reasons for wanting only a short-term deal are much better than Rebecca's (I mean, so she's busy at work, big fucking deal. Isn't everyone?). Jake was an undercover police officer until he got shot. He was given the choice between a desk job and early retirement, and he took the second option. Now, as he recovers from being shot (months and months of rehab, accompanied by pretty bad pain if he overdoes things -I did like that his injuries are a big deal), he has no idea what he's going to do with the rest of his life. For now, he's slowly rehabbing his dad's house, in preparation for the time when the man's arthritis becomes so bad that he needs his wheelchair full-time. All Jake knows is that his future will include taking care of his dad in some shape or form, but that's it.

The whole thing with Jake sounded really interesting, and I looked forward to reading this. Unfortunately, this very interesting conflict gets pretty much ignored. What I got was a) boring sex, b) a tacked on suspense subplot, and c) a truly crappy ending.

Right, so the boring sex. That was mostly at the beginning, when they first meet up for a date. Before we even knew them, let alone they knew each other, they're in bed. It felt really cold and weird. Yes, once they do meet it does seem like they connect and really are attracted to each other, but I think what rubbed me wrong was the coldness of the arrangement. Their mutual friend basically sets them up for a one-night stand, before they even know each other beyond a photograph. And both arrive at the hotel where they're having drinks, and book a hotel room before even setting eyes on the other. That seems very calculated. I have no problem with string-free sex at all, it's not that. I wouldn't have had a problem with it if the whole thing had been set up as them meeting up with the goal of having a fun evening with an interesting person, and then it turns out they hit it off so well and they're so attracted that they end up in bed. But having them set out to plain get laid as they did was a bit icky to me, and read kind of strange.

And that wasn't the only thing that felt off. I think Leigh is trying to do cool city girls and not really hitting the right notes. Things like the dialogue between Rebecca, her friend Bree and her assistant, Dani, just felt wrong. Or, the text messages. It read like she was trying too hard to be cool. They're not teenagers, they shouldn't text like teenagers. I do confess that I might be a bit too much in the opposite direction (confession: I've used a semi-colon in a text message), but come on.

So anyway, once the boring sex is over, and they start actually dating (with remarkable lack of resistance for two people who were all about the no long-term), the book gets better. I liked the scenes where Rebecca spends some time with Jake's dad and his friends. I thought this was going somewhere.

And then, a tedious suspense subplot pops up. Suddenly, they're running around being chase by a bad guy. And then, the book ends. Just ends. The bad guy is still at large, Jake's future is up in the air, they just go like "oh, well, we love each other, we'll make things work", and bam! the end. It was bad enough that I thought there was something wrong with my book. In fact, I deleted it from my kindle and redownloaded it, but no, that was it. And I had a look on goodreads and a couple of people were complaining about the ending as well, so it must be the actual ending. Really puzzling.

MY GRADE: A C-, because there were a couple of good bits there in the middle, and because I did appreciate that Rebecca wasn't made to feel guilty for being wealthy. Good thing I didn't just go ahead and buy book 3.

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