>> Monday, December 17, 2012
On the cusp of her thirtieth birthday, Maura Mahoney has yet to date a man who really excites her. Her quiet routine as a director at the retirement community Cherry Lane is disrupted by the arrival of Jesse Blue, a bad boy on a motorcycle who roars into her life. Jesse has agreed to avoid jail time by serving community service at Cherry Lane. Instantly attracted but wary of Jesse's checkered past and youth, Maura puts him to work in the garden. Despite the growing sexual tension between them, there are many things keeping Maura and Jesse apart, chiefly their own assumptions about one another. But appearances can be deceiving and Maura and Jesse must overcome the expectations of those around them to find their happy ending...Maura Mahoney is an accountant at a retirement home, a job she loves, even though her domineering parents feel she's wasting her education on it. Maura lives a nice, quiet life, which suddenly changes with the arrival of motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing bad boy Jesse Blue.
Jesse's been ordered to do community service (don't worry, it was for a completely commendable crime, of course), and the retirement home's HR manager agreed he could do his hours there. Right before he arrives, though, the woman has to take some urgent time off, and Maura gets saddled with the duty of supervising Jesse. She takes it very seriously -at least, that's the excuse she gives herself as to why she spends so much of her time watching him through her window while he does sweaty gardening work!
I will admit, my expectations were sky-high when I started this. Susan Fox wrote two of my favourite books last year, the amazingly wonderful Love, Unexpectedly and His, Unexpectedly. They had grown-up characters who actually talked to each other, and this let me see exactly how well they fit together and completely buy that they were falling in love. Body Heat was nothing like those books, nothing at all.
Now, Jesse is a very nice hero, and I liked how he is completely gone over Maura from the start. To him, she's not boring, she's scorching hot, and he's convinced she's out of his league. A beautiful, clever, elegant woman like that, interested in a blue-collar guy like him, who can't even read properly? I did like seeing him begin to recognise his worth, and stop putting himself down.
But Maura, oh, dear. It wasn't that I didn't like the character, it was that she was completely unbelievable. Seriously, we're talking about a woman who's mortally embarrased about liking TV and movies. Not just trashy TV and crap movies -I could definitely understand someone watching and loving reality TV and feeling embarrassed about it (that was me last year, when I got ever-so-slightly addicted to X-Factor), or pretending they only like art-house cinema, but Maura just makes blanket statements about TV and any movies in general. Seriously, woman, who are you? And this is from someone who much prefers books to either of those media and would 99 times out of 100 read a book than watch TV or a film!
Maura also seems remarkably clueless about way too many things. One of my "favourite" scenes was when she was worried at her sudden constant horniness since she met Jesse the day before. She's never masturbated in her life (she calls it "the M word", in fact), and has never felt particularly aroused, even with her two previous lovers, so it's a big change. She decides to do some research to check whether it might have something to do with having just turned 30 the day before. Yep, because maybe it's like throwing some sort of switch, you know. And wait, there's more. She googles "female sexuality" and panics because she gets 5000 results! Ohhh, she has no idea where to start! (For the record, you get over 28 million results, 1.3 million if you use quote marks).
Unrealistic or not, she did kind of grow on me, and the last part of the book actually worked ok for me, because she gets to act a bit more believable. Those sections were fun, and quite hot. The first sections, though, induced quite a bit of eye-rolling. Additionally, those first sections were not sexy at all, which is clearly not what the author intended. It was sex fantasy scene after sex fantasy scene. I expect Fox must have thought it was a way to make the book "hot" without having her characters fall into bed straight away, but it just didn't work for me in any way. I guess, at first sight, a sex scene is a sex scene is a sex scene. All the sex scenes in a book are imaginary, made up by the author, so having one imaginary character imagining one should be just as hot as a having the imaginary characters actually doing it. It isn't. It just isn't. If it wasn't actually happening, I wasn't interested and tempted to skim. Also, these constant fantasies made Maura and Jesse look like idiots, mainly because they tended to happen in the most inappropriate places. Jesse has two of them (two, count them!) while driving his motorbike!
MY GRADE: A C+. I was very generous and gave it a B- in last month's summary, but on reflection, I think that was too generous.