Suddenly You, by Sarah Mayberry

>> Friday, July 11, 2014

TITLE: Suddenly You
AUTHOR: Sarah Mayberry

PAGES: 288
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Superromance

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Category romance
SERIES: Stands alone, but the hero was in All They Need

The definition of a happy man?

The guy who knows exactly what he wants and has it. That's Harry Porter. He's got the perfect job, the best buddies and no commitments beyond the next good time. It's the ideal life.

Then he stops to help Pippa White when she's stranded by the side of the road. He's known—and liked—her for a while, but as the ex of a friend, she's entirely off-limits. And as fun as the banter with her is, Harry knows single moms are out of his league.

So why all the excuses to see Pippa again…and again? And why can't he stop thinking about her? But most puzzling of all is how Harry suddenly wants to swap a night with the boys for one with only Pippa!

One night, heading into town for some fun, Harry Porter sees a car he recognises by the side of the road, clearly having broken down. It belongs to Pippa White, ex-girlfriend of a friend of his. That relationship didn't end well: Pippa became pregnant and decided to keep it, and Harry's friend has gone on and on about how she harassed him, even getting the government on his case to bleed him dry.

Harry always liked Pippa fine, though, and he's a good guy (not to mention a mechanic), so he stops to see if he can help. Pippa is reluctant to accept anything from him, even a lift home, which he finally persuades her into. After seeing her house and noticing that after a few days she still hasn't had her car towed, Harry suspects she must be suffering financially. Surely his friend will help the mother of his child, even if the kid was unwanted?

It turns out, to Harry's surprise, that his friend is a real turd. Pippa isn't bleeding him dry; in fact, the sack of shit falsified his books so that it looked like his company was insolvent, just to get out of paying any child support. He's not giving her a cent.

Harry doesn't think that's right at all. He's ashamed of his friend and he admires Pippa for the way she's been dealing with things, so he decides to help out with stuff, starting with her car. But spending time together leads to attraction, and soon they're both trying to remember why they shouldn't give in to it..

It's a setup with plenty of potential for angst, although mainly on Harry's side, really. He feels uncomfortable with the idea of a relationship with an ex of a friend, even if that friend was the one in the wrong and clearly doesn't have feelings for her any longer. He's also very uncomfortably trying to reconcile his friendship with the man with the knowledge that he behaved so badly to Pippa. That felt very real and painful. It's easy to think (and that was my instinct) that he should just dump the bastard as a friend, but I understood completely how the history they had together would make that easier said than done. There's also stuff going on with his father, who wants Harry to take over his garage when he retires, and doesn't understand why Harry would rather do the same work but independently. I loved the way that was developed.

Harry's great, but Pippa I found much less engaging. I'm quite a heroine-centric reader, so that was a bit of a problem for me. To be completely honest, I think part of it might be that being on my own with a baby and struggling to make ends meet, forced to live a life very different from the one I'm living and enjoying now, is possibly one of my worst nightmares. My difficulty engaging with her as a character might have something to do with that. It's very probably an "it's not the book, it's the reader" situation, and I expect she'll work much better as a romance heroine for most readers.

On the whole, though, and even with those issues, this was one I enjoyed very much.



Darlynne,  11 July 2014 at 16:45  

Pippa and Harry? Mayberry's book have been hit or miss for me and those names would be a hurdle to overcome at the outset. Not saying I can't, but similar to anyone naming a character Xander or ice dancing to Bolero: once it's become iconic, no one but Joss Whedon or Torvill and Dean should attempt it.

And see? I'm completely distracted by the names, even with your excellent review. I wonder if research shows that people respond positively to characters named with something they regard favorably. Which makes me the outlier because I'm running in the other direction. Weird, huh?

Rosario 12 July 2014 at 08:10  

Heheh, I did find that distracting as well. And the funny thing is, the author is aware that she's got an issue with names, just not that one. The jokes in the book are all about Harry Porter/Potter (which I, like you, had been too focused on the Harry/Pippa thing to even notice!).

Fernande,  13 July 2014 at 01:52  

Hi Rosario, I just reread this one while on holiday, (don't you just love bringing 600 books on holiday with you, thanks to your ereader of choice?) ) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I love the complexity of Mayberry's novels: in this case Harry's relationship with his father/the family business and with his best friend, who's clearly a bit of a bastard, as well as, of course, with Pippa. I enjoyed his growing up, and I did like Pippa, even though I thought she was too reluctant initially to accept his help. I always enjoy the slightly exotic cast of Mayberry's settings (names and all) , since I'm Canadian, and particularly enjoy reading about characters who are actual grown ups, with ordinary jobs (no 24 year old billionaires) and family responsibilities, and a vision of what they want from their lives and the strength and drive to achieve it . And Mayberry does really lovely hot sexy romance too!

Rosario 13 July 2014 at 07:47  

Hi Fernande! I've come to realise that some of my favourite romances are the ones where the characters are also dealing with a certain level of conflict in the other relationships in their life, not only in the romantic relationship. Mayberry is really good at that!

And oh, yes, I still remember going on holiday and having to use up half my luggage allowance on heavy books. I do adore my ereader!

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